14 May 2013

Leap for Literacy

Hello Fellow Bloggers, Family, Friends, Followers and passerby's,

On June 8th, 2013 I will be participating in the Hearing Speech and Deaf Center's (HSDC) Leap for Literacy 5K. This event raises money to help support children with hearing loss or speech-language challenges through Hearing, Speech & Deafness Center's Connor R. McRae Scholarship Fund! 

I would love if you could help support this cause by donating to this event. My personal goal is $50, which is part of a larger goal of $300, set by team, Seattle Central Community College's ASL Club. Anything you can give will help. Thank you all for your support!

Quick Facts on Deafness/Hearing Loss & Communication/Reading

  • 24-28 million people have some some degree of hearing loss in the US
  • 2 million of these people are classified as Deaf
  • 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents
  • 10% of those hearing parents learn to sign
  • 90% of those parents, do not learn to sign or communicate effectively with their children
  • 92% of Deaf Children graduate from high school with a 1st to 3rd grade reading level
  • Research shows that deaf children exposed to a first language by six months of age can and do develop written languages skills as early and as well as their hearing peers.
  • A Signed Language is the natural, most effective, and best way to teach a Deaf or Hard of Hearing child language.
  • American Sign Language is a distinct language with it's own syntax and grammar
  • American Sign Language is the the 3rd most commonly used language in the United States
  • Sign language is a great bridge and crucial in the teaching of English and reading to Deaf/Hard of Hearing children in America.
Let's help to increase the literacy rate in Deaf and Hard of hearing children by making communication easier and education more available! Help me to raise money for this great cause

11 May 2013

A Mother's Day Reminder

For the days we are running on empty. For the days we just don't think we have it in us to read one more story, play one more game of Uno, wash one more round of sheets. For the days when we think everyone else has it together. For the days we're sure anyone else would do this job better.

For those days. You know the ones.

Repeat after me:

1. I shall not judge my house, my kid's summer activities or my crafting skills by Pinterest's standards.

2. I shall not measure what I've accomplished today by the loads of unfolded laundry but by the assurance of deep love I've tickled into my kids.

3. I shall say yes to blanket forts and see past the chaos to the memories we're building.

4. I shall surprise my kids with trips to get ice cream when they're already in their pajamas.

5. I shall not compare myself to other mothers but find the identity within me.

6. I shall remember that a messy house at peace is better than an immaculate house tied up in knots.

7. I shall play music loudly and teach my kids the joy of wildly uncoordinated dance.

8. I shall remind myself that perfect is simply a street sign at the intersection of impossible and frustration in Never Never land.

9. I shall embrace the fact that in becoming a mom I traded perfect for a house full of real.

10. I shall promise to love this body that bore these two children out loud, especially in front of my daughter.

11. I shall give my other mother friends the gift of guilt-free friendship.

12. I shall do my best to admit to my people my unfine moments.

13. I shall say sorry when sorry is necessary.

14. I  promise I shall never be too proud, angry or stubborn to ask for my children's forgiveness.

15. I shall make space in my grown-up world for goofball moments with my kids.

16. I shall love their father and make sure they know I love him.

17. I shall model kind words to kids and grown-ups alike.

18. I shall not be intimidated by the inside of my SUV; this season of chip bags, goldfish crackers and discarded socks too shall pass.

19. I shall always make time to encourage new moms.

20. I shall not resent that last call for kisses and cups of water but remember instead that when I blink they'll all be in college.

... with love from one tired mother to another.

Editor's note: This piece was written by Lisa-Jo Baker (http://lisajobaker.com/) and originally appeared on her blog, but I LOVE it and NEEDED it and thought you might too.

Happy Mother's Day to all!

06 May 2013

{currently loving}

Today Kameron took a pretty big fall; 6+ feet to be exact. Today I also found out that I have been accepted into the University of Northern Colorado's ASL Bachelors of Interpreting program. This exciting news seemed so unimportant as I lay next to my (now sleeping) son in the ER hospital bed. His head injury from the 6ft fall through the upstairs banister to the floor below was all I could think about. He is so perfect, so innocent, so sweet. At that moment as I was taking in my current situation with the news of my exciting future, I couldn't help but think how insignificant the latter was. No matter what had happened with UNC I would still have this baby boy. Life suddenly became clear. There would have been other opportunities, other programs, other paths (be they more difficult or not) that I could have taken had UNC not gone my way. I would have been ok. I realized that this little boy and his sister are my purpose in life, and I will sacrifice a lifetime of my dreams and goals to make sure they reach every single one of theirs. Kameron is fine. A possible concussion, closed head wound and small hematoma but aside from that he is doing great. Things could have gone a lot different. Much more worse; much more life changing than acceptance into one single university or not.  The moment was bitter-sweet; he is a lucky little boy and I am a very lucky mama. A mama who is looking forward to her new future as a UNC Bear with her two wonderful, beautiful and most imporatantly HEALTHY kids in tow!

::Currently Loving::

Washington weather the past week has been nothing short of fantastic. This Tatum family has been taking full advantage of this precious Vitamin D. Everyday we are outside in some way, be it backyard fun or playground adventures. I made a vow that I would not take for granted the sun when it is out, and so far we have lived up to the promise.

 Every other day, I lace up my running shoes and I hit the pavement/trail/streets alone. I take this time to improve my health, to clear my mind, to train, to seek guidance from the world around me. I don't run with music; the headphones drive me crazy and I can't think straight with Phillip Phillips bumping loudly in my ears. I love the burn in my thighs as I run and the sound of my methodical and paced breathing as I am 8 miles into a 15 miler day. I love the sound of the raindrops splashing in puddles and I love the idea of being healthier than I have ever been before. Long distance running is my passion, my niche, my me time.

::Talks of baby #3::
This is not in our immediate future, but we have decided that Tatum #3 will be. But 3 is our max! My uterus has apparently forgotten about the torture I have put it through 3 previous times because it is now sending me signals of wanting more. Although I told myself I was done after baby #2, I never really believed that, and as my little man slowly makes his way into toddlerhood my heart beats wildly for another baby. I am suppressing the urges and we are holding off until Kameron is AT LEAST 3. I need time to get my body back into fighting shape, to finish my schooling, to prepare. Kaydence talks fondly of baby #3. She wants a sister this time, and apparently is under the impression that babies can simply be purchased from the baby isle of Fred Meyer.

Kaydence: "Mommy can you buy me a baby sister?"
Me: "Well, it takes a lot more than purchasing to get you a baby sister."
Kaydence: You can just buy one online and they will send it to us in the mail!"
Me: "you are right we could do that, but it might take some time until it is delivered. We are looking at 10 months best case scenario!"
Kaydence: "We can just go to Fred Meyer then."

Haha, she cracks me up! Baby sister's have been a popular topic of converstation lately. From the way she treats her baby brother you could never tell she would actually want another one.

::Comparing old baby photos::
I swear that Kaydence is my lighter skinned twin. The picture below is proof enough!

Kaydence on left, me on right
Same age

::Deaf Culture::
Everything about the Deaf community, culture, and language is so amazing to me! I love that I have found this amazing new world and I am so lucky to be a part of it. I can't wait for what my future holds as an ASL Interpreter and I love that my children are growing in the Language and community with me. If feels good to be apart of something many people don't even know about!

Deaf clapping is much more magical tons more fun!

05 May 2013

The Walker's

As Kevin and I were falling asleep last night, the subject of happy times came up. We took a few trips down memory lane, and eventually the conversation became one sided while Kevin gave me sporadic, "uh-huh's" between bouts of sleep (I appreciate his kindness).

Eventually I too fell asleep but my dreams picked up where my voice left off.

When I think back to my childhood, most often my memories induce feelings of anger, resentment, pain and annoyance. But when those occasional few good memories poke through, man do they shine! As I talked to Kevin last night I happened to mention one of my top 5 favorite childhood memories, Branson, Missouri.

It was summer time and I was 12 years old. I spent the entire summer on the lake in Branson with my Grandpa and Grandma Walker, and a hoard of friends and relatives. We slept in a camper and spent most of our days jet skiing/boating on the lake, swimming, bbqing hot dogs, and enjoying the company of others. During the evening we would attend shows in Branson and walk down the strip. My favorite show was Legends in Concert. It was 2 hours of famous impersonators including: Sonny and Cher, The Blue's Brothers, Micheal Jackson and my favorite Elvis. I vividly remember meeting the impersonators after the show and freaking out when we got to Elvis; he was just so pretty (you don't have to be older to enjoy his good looks). Branson was like Vegas to me. The city was lit up at night and McDonalds had bumper boats, that was big deal! I loved every second of this trip! I went home tanner than I had every been in my entire life, glasses-less (dropped them in the lake), and happier than  pigs in mud; and too this day I smile from ear to ear as I reminisce on this joyous memory of my life.

I now realize this man looks nothing like Elvis (Elvis is much more attractive)
Speaking of this trip quickly brought up more happy memories with the Walker's. My grandparents seem to the the focus of a lot of my childhood happiness. They were my escape from the world that was my real life. When I look back at the things they did that cause my heart so much joy, even as an adult, it is always the small things that made such a big impact

Me March 6, 1988 (4 months old)

The most impactful thing they did for me was take in my sister as though she was their own. Most visits to grandma and grandpa Walker's, Tamika accompanied me. She wasn't their's but you would never have known that. Being without paternal grandparents of her own, my sister deeply appreciated their kindness and as an adult I truly respect them for what they did for her.

Grandpa & Me November 21, 1987 (6 days old)
Morning breakfasts included whatever I wanted. I always had the choice of toast, English muffins, oatmeal, grapefruit or cereal. Unlike with my mom, I was able to choose whatever cereal I wanted, not just the box that was open. This was always amazing to me.

Shopping was something we did often with my grandparents (mostly out of necessity as I was always low on cloths). It is never the shopping trips I remembered but the fact that grandma had to wash all of my new cloths before I could wear them. It was something that was so bizarre to me, yet so sweet.

Me August 13, 1988 (9 months old)
I remember playing on their giant waterbed with my sister and talking about how it was coolest bed we had ever seen. They never freaked out about us being on it. Never afraid we would mess it up. It was bed, it could be made again.

I have fond memories of my grandma combing my hair ever so gently trying desperately to comb out the kinks in my curls. I was their only grandchild at the time and being partially black left grandma in a predicament she never had encountered before...African American hair. I loved when grandma styled my hair. She always let me wear it down if I wanted to, even though she knew it would look like a frizzy mess later. She never had the "right" products to put in it, and no one had ever shown her how to "do" it. She did the best she could and I loved it! My hair was most often in small ponytails tight to my head, tamed and out of the way. I rarely had the luxury of wearing it down during the weeks, so on my weekends with grandma I always took full advantage of her ignorance and let it flow freely.

My wonderfully frizzy hair! (I actually really to love it this way)
Oct 6, 1990)

The guest bed was always so inviting. I would nestle down deep under the thick blankets taking in the sweet smell that to this day I can still pull to memory on a whim.

Often time's we would rent a movie (VHS) to watch at some point on the weekend. My favorite part of all of the movies was the end. Grandpa had this amazing VHS rewinder that was in the shape of a car. If you firmly pressed down on the hood it would pop up reviling a spot for the VHS. You would slide the VHS into the the car rewinder, firmly press the hood back down again and the car headlights would come on while the car quickly rewinded the VHS. It was without a doubt the coolest gadget of that time.

Random picture from the internet...just wanted to show the concept

I loved to spend cold winter nights in the hot tub on the deck at night. It was by far the highlight to my evening. I would wait patiently for grandma to tell us girls to change into our bathing suits and nearly sprint up the stairs when when she finally broached the subject.

My grandparents too this day send me birthday and Christmas cards each year. They always make sure they have my correct address (I move a lot) to make sure that my cards reach me each year. We had a mishap one year that Grandpa quickly resolved.

Case in point...
Don't mess with Grandpa Walker :-)

I could go on and on about Christmas thumb-print cookies, light bright fun by the fireplace, endless albums of pictures, and grandpa's "serious" talks. Aside from the one time I colored highlighter on the arm of grandpa's chair I have no true memories of my grandparents getting mad at me. If they ever did, apparently I didn't take it too seriously as I don't remember. My grandparents were truly inspiring to me. I fed off of their success and yearned for their happiness. They were the role models I needed in my life and played a major role in keeping me on track. I wanted to be like them, I still want to be like them.


Dear Grandpa and Grandpa Walker,

I don't think I have ever told you guys how much having you in my life meant to me. You accepted and loved me through all of the craziness that was my mother and father. From the day I was born you took me into your home for full weekends caring for me completely and doing it happily. You never let yours or my relationship with my father affect how you treated me. You have played a major role in molding me into the person I am today, and you are the one of the major rainbows in the rainstorm that was my life. There is no way I could ever repay you for all that you have done for me and Tamika, but you should know that your love and kindness has not gone unnoticed. I hold a special and very dear spot in my heart for you two. Thank you for being you, and I love you both so very much!