28 October 2014

{Happiness Project } Letting go of the Christmas Stress

{Over a month ago I began my Happiness Project; a process in which I form habits that aid me in becoming a better ME; physically, mentally, and emotionally. And with these new habits I hope to better appreciate the happiness that surrounds me. I plan to spend the next 12-18 months tackling projects, eating better, excising, going to therapy, organizing and doing a list of other projects/activities that will help me reach my goal in becoming a newer, better, happier me. You can find the introduction of my Happiness Project HERE. During this process I plan to document my journey via blogs, vlogs, and journals. I hope to share my experiences, new skills and knowledge with others while at the same time keeping a record for myself. Thank you for joining me in my Happiness Project!}

I know it is only October 28th, but the fast approaching holidays has had me slightly stressed out. I love the holidays, it is truly my favorite time of the year. Cool air, delicious foods, pies, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin, the glow of Christmas lights, hot toddies & egg nog, and the the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from this time of year; it all makes me happy.

But the dreaded gift giving always dampers my mood a bit. What do I get? I don't have a ton of money, is this going to be enough? Where do I draw the line at who I buy gift for? What if I don't want to give gifts, will I hurt peoples feelings?

A few years ago Kev and I decided that Christmas would not be about gift giving for our kids (you can find that blog HERE). I want to set expectations low for them from the very beginning. I don't want my kids to expect that they will be showered with their own private mountain of gifts on Christmas morning. If I set this precedent early they will never know any different. And so far we have done good keeping to our word. We follow a simple riddle..."Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read and something to create." The kids receive gifts, their stockings are filled with goodies (healthy yet equally 'junky'), and they are happy (usually off playing with the boxes their toys came in). Plus they will also be receiving gifts from their uncle, aunts, grandmas and grandpas. My kids aren't deprived. They are loved, and they know it.

As for Kev and I, we don't exchange gifts. Our holiday gift exchanging fell away the minute our first child was born. There are more important things we could do with our money than buy jewelry and other items that would immediately depreciate the minute we swipe our card and leave the store. We love each other, we both feel it and the exchanging of a gift won't change that. And to be honest, I would much rather a night out with my spouse than have a gift under our tree on Christmas morning. We will always have stuff, I'd rather make a memory.

As for others I have decided that I will be putting a limit to the people I buy for. My one certainty is the children. Together, Kev and I have two nieces, and I plan to always buy a small gift for each niece and/or nephew. Kevin's family has an annual 'Secret Santa' gift exchange; one person, one gift, easy enough. That is a total of three external people, and that is where I draw my limit.

I love the holidays and I a refuse to allow the pressure of buying stuff to be something that stresses me out. I plan to spend less money on stuff and more time on making memories. We will bake cookies for others, go on winter adventures, donate our time/give back, visit Santa at multiple different malls and pick which one we like the best, watch the nutcracker, ride the Santa Express, eat way too much pie, watch 'A Christmas Story' on repeat, drink lots of rum, laugh and spend time with the ones we love. Because when we look back in years to come we won't remember the stuff we did/didn't receive; only the memories we had and the fun we had making them.

So if you are feeling the pressure of the holidays, don't. Agree to a 'Dirty Secret Santa Exchange' (way less stressful than the normal Secret Santa) among the family or no gifts at all. Lower your Christmas list and budget for the kids, and with the money that you save go have a family adventure! We only live once; and  living more humbly makes you appreciate more wholly.

21 October 2014

That Dark Place

I am in a dark place, guys.

It seems that more and more these days the mounting pressures of life is leaving me with the inability to cope. I am being pulled 100 different directions and I have no more stretch, no more give. I have been giving what very little free time I have to others. I know the struggle of needing help but having no one able or willing to do so; but I have stretched myself to thin. I am video editing, house hunting, babysitting, working on boutique orders, mailing packages and that is just the stuff I am doing for others. That doesn't include my massive everyday list of taking Kaydence to school, laundry, dishes, snacks time, grocery shopping, packing, house hunting, school, vacuuming, playing, trying desperately to remember to feed myself, Kaydence dance, dentist, appointments, doctor appointment, speech-language pathology appointments, school counseling appointment, pumpkin patches, parent-nights, honey do I have any clean socks, mom I am hungry, waaaaa (Kaylani screaming in hungers), will you do this window craft with me mama, Radar nudging by hand because it is noon and I haven't fed him yet, Kameron just got poop all over the bathroom, "Hello, may I speak with Mrs. Tatum. We are calling about the past due medical bill.", "Will you please stop hitting your sister with that cup.", "I emailed you yesterday in regards to the order I placed two days ago, will it be ready by Halloween.", "Mom, we still haven't gone to the pumpkin patch. I guess we  will never get to carve pumpkins.". My head is spinning. There is more to do in one day than there are enough hours and damn it I am doing this alone. My amazing, wonderful husband is working is tail off to keep us stable and I am here working my tail off to stay sane.

I forget to send emails, I rarely respond to text messages, I am late to EVERYTHING and I am just trying to stay afloat, but I feel like I am drowning.

I am in that dark place, guys.

That place that has me feeling alone. That place where I cry at night. Every. Single. Night. That place where I feel like I am doing way more for other people than anyone ever does for me. Ever. That place where if I don't keep busy I may fall apart. That place that keeps telling me "You're doing this all wrong." "You're stupid." "You're failing." That place where the guy who did awful, AWFUL things to you, that guy that stole your innocence at 12 years old sends you a Facebook request. And suddenly that dirty, disgusting feeling that rots your soul is back. And you hate your body, and when someone touches you it puts you on edge.

I am in THAT dark place, guys.

That place where you mourn your life pre-babies. That place where you just want to sleep more than 4 hours in a row. That place where most new parents can run to their mom or dad for advice when life and parenting gets hard, but you realize you have no one because your parents are cause of your pain. That place where you realize you never really have had a parental figure. That place where you realize when things get hard people step out, not up. That place where it really hit you that your grandma is never coming back. That place where your hands are full and your heart is heavy. That place where it hurts, and you smile to the outside world, but deep down inside you are sad.

I am in that dark place, guys.

Today I dressed and packed up a happy preschooler for school. She sang songs as I brushed her hair and giddily climbed into the car as we got ready to leave. And as we drove I found myself drifting to that dark place. I smiled on the outside buy inside I was lost. And as I pulled into the driveway of her school and parked the car, I could feel a shift in the air. And as I held my little girls hand as we walked up the hill to her classroom I could feel the tension in her body. And I we approached the door to drop her off it hit me. My daughter is in that dark place too.  She looked up at me and instantly started crying. She clung to my leg and sobbed. She said no words. She just cried and I didn't have to ask her what was wrong, I knew. This whole time I had thought I was putting on a pretty good show. I thought I was shielding and hiding this dark place from my kids but I wasn't. They know. They feel it too. And suddenly the acting out, the screaming, the yelling, the anger it all made sense. These actions are her 4 year old way of saying that she isn't coping well either. My distances, my anger, my yelling, my frustration; I am just channeling this stuff to my kids.

So after I finally convinced her to go inside and participate in school. I drove home. I parked our car in the driveway and I ran. My first solo, child free/dog free run. I ran, and I cried, and I ran some more. And I decided I would not do to my kids what my parents did to me. I will not have a pity party for myself. I will not give into this fear, anxiety and sadness. I will not lean on my kids so heavily that they are bogged down with the weight of my pain. I will NOT do this to my children. My children will know what happiness is because they will see it and feel it and know it. So I ran, and when I finished running I did the one thing that I have always been afraid to do. I called a therapist for help. Because lets face it, you can't hold a life time of physical, emotional and mental abuse in. It will come out eventually and without the right outlet it could be life changing and disastrous.

I have battled these lonely demons for far too long. It's time to get help.

I am in this dark place, guys. And if you are in the dark place with me, just remember to keep swimming. And know that you are not alone. Just call for help, I am in this dark place with you.

I have received a lot of concerned emails, text messages, and phone calls. I am sad sometimes, but I am happy. I am happy with my children, my husband, my life. There is a lot of my past I need to work through that keeps my spirit heavy. I am working through this, so that one day I can leave the baggage of my past right where it belongs; in the past. Thank you for your concern. 

15 September 2014

New Milestones {Preschool Bound}

Today was Kaydence's first day of Pre-Kindergarten. She has been anticipating this day for a few months now as we have school shopped and prepared for its inevitable appearance. I have seen pictures and heard stories of the weepy mom who cried the minute she got to the car after dropping off her teary-eyed and clingy preschooler for the first day. I have been trying to prepare myself for this milestone and the flood of emotions that would come with it. I already knew this was going to be hard for me. I knew I was going to miss her presence for the 3 1/2 hours she was gone and I knew I was going to cry.

But I didn't

I didn't cry. It wasn't hard for me. I didn't 'miss' her presence.

As we stood outside of her preschool classroom. I held her hand. I told her to be nice to the other children, however, don't allow them to bully her. I told her to share, to be kind, to be patient and most of all to have fun. I told her that this was going to be a great experience and that she was going to love it. She nodded at all my commands and remarks with nervous excitement in her eyes. When we entered her classroom I signed her in and watched her timidly wash her hands and sit down in a circle at the front of the classroom, as instructed. I stood and watched other parents desperately trying to peel the tight grasps of their screaming child off their arm. I listened to her preschool teacher calmly tell us parents that it is fine for us to stay for a bit to allow the children to acclimate and I watched the relief on the faces of some of those concerned parents who had hoped she would say that. I watched and listened, and then I did the complete opposite.

I quietly signed to Kaydence "Mommy is leaving now. I will see you soon. I love you." She nodded in agreement, signed 'I love you' back, and after giving her one last big smile I walked out. I was the only parent to do so.

There was no anxiety, no fear, no sadness, no worry. I didn't cry when I got to the car and or when I got home.

You see, the truth is, I welcome with new milestone of our life. A few hours of no sibling rivalry. A few hours of only being pulled in two directions instead of three. A few hours to grocery shopping without filing the cart with kids before I even put a single item in it. A few more hours to do laundry. A few hours to run (since my jogging stroller only holds two). A few hours to accomplish things that would have been much more difficult with three instead of two.

Now, don't get me wrong. I adore my little girl! I couldn't imagine my life without the amazing little person who made me the mom I am today and I truly enjoy playing, interacting, and being around the wonderful little spirit she is. I am not "happy" that she is gone. I am happy that she is being fully engaged, entertained, taught, cared for and fed in a safe environment while I have a few hours to get things done that would have not allowed me to do all of those things with her. I feel as though it is a win, win for both of us.

When I picked her up, I asked her if she was nervous when I left and if she missed me. Her response:

"Nope I wasn't nervous and I didn't miss you at all!"

I guess we are both in similar places :-)

10 September 2014

Little Words

Oh, this blog of mine.

There is no writers block, for I am not a writer. I have just had few words lately.

Life is busy these days. And while busy is certainly not bad, it is most definitely exhausting.

My mind is full, yet I have nothing to say. The past few months I have just been riding this river of life. Some moments are raging rapids in which I feel like I am desperately fighting to stay afloat of my raft. While other days, I feel like I am riding an inter-tube down a peaceful and quiet lazy river.

I have slowly and unconsciously began to detach myself from the cyber world of ours. Living more in reality and not so much the fantasy of social media.

Social media, the place in which I have 150 "friends" but 98% of them don't even know my favorite color. The place in which I determine how popular I am by how many people liked my pictures. The place in which I determine my happiness by how much "stuff" I have in comparison to others. The place in which I gauge my parenting skills, based on the articles presented in Huffington Post-Parents.

I find myself more and more disgusted in what I see on my social media sites lately. People desperately seeking the validation of others. The smiling faces of well behaved children, never the screaming faces of the tantrum throwing toddler. Pictures of dreamy places we only wish for in our dreams. Boastful comments and post, meant to attract the attention of others while hopefully validating the account holder.

I find myself typing a FB post or editing an Instagram photo and then immediately asking myself "What do I hope to expect from this?"

"Why I am I posting the 300th picture of my beautiful view?"
because I like to hear people tell me how beautiful it is.

"Why I am posting a picture of most recent 10 mile run?"
because I can't wait for someone to tell me how amazing and determined I am.

"Why am I posting another picture of the thermometer and my sad son's face?"
because I want someone to feel sorry for me.

...because I want attention.

So I have scaled back. Less attention, more humbleness. No longer are my 'running backdrop' photos a moment for me to brag. I take the photo and then I savor this special time that I have watching the sunset into the Puget Sound while listening to the sound of my rapidly beating heart and deep heavy breaths. Because when I don't post that photo suddenly this moment becomes something sacred. Just me and my run. No attention. Nobody will even know of this moment, but I forever will. And that is special.

So as I reset and reassess, I find myself with little words. While others are desperately seeking more Instagram followers, more picture 'likes', more Facebook friends, more Youtube subscribers, more attention; I am realizing that I am just fine being nobody. Because being a "nobody" means I don't have to try so hard to be somebody I'm not.

22 August 2014

Kaylani {1 Month}

One month already! How can this be!?

I blinked, again, and here you are a whole 5 weeks old and I don't know how this happened.

With little effort to comfort and calm you, wonderful nursing skills, and smiles for everyone; you have officially hit the status of 'easy baby'. After experiencing 6 months of colic with your brother, I must admit that I am truly grateful for your easy going demeanor. Thank you sweet princess for sparing mommy and daddy some of our sanity.

You're a mama's girl to the fullest. At only 5 weeks you already prefer me over anyone else. Daddy always tells me to be quiet when he's holding you.  Just the sound of my voice alone will have you crying for me.

At 5 weeks old you're hitting a growth spurt. Cluster feeding and sleeping is currently your past time. And all of this eating and sleeping has really paid off, as you have plumped up real nicely the last few weeks. In fact, at 5 weeks old you have officially hit your brother's birth weight of 9lbs 12oz (man that big brother of yours was built solid!)

You currently nurse every 2 hours during the day but at night you are already choosing sleep over food. Waking only 1-2 times a night to eat. I still sleep right next to you. As much of a comfort as I am to you, you are to me as well. I am not sure when I will move out of your room, but for right now I cherish this time with you. I truly goes fast, you know.

Your eyes turn brighter blue with every passing day. While I am not ready to call it yet, I am pretty sure they are going to stay that way.

You are so alert. You have been since the minute you were born. Constantly taking in your surroundings. You have already mastered your head control and rock tummy time like a pro. In the past week we you have been starting to follow moving objects with strong intensity.

You despise the car. In the beginning we could get you calmed as long as the car was going over 45mph. These days it doesn't matter. From the time we strap you in until we have reached our destination, you let it be known that you are not happy.

Mommy needs surgery and a root canal so in the last week we have tried giving you a bottle of mama's liquid gold. You won't take it. A paci? Yes. A bottle? Absolutely not! If there is milk coming out of it, it better be a boob. Period. End of story. This makes things a bit difficult since we don't have an infant carrier, thus it is required for me to baby wear you. Baby wearing while having a root canal is just not possible, my love. We will have to figure this thing out.

You're smiling a lot these days. No closed mouth grins but big wide gummy smiles. We all love it!

We all love you, Princess!

30 July 2014

Introducing Baby #3

It's A Girl!

Kaylani Judith Marie Tatum
July 18, 2014
7lbs 10oz
20 1/4 in

After 9 stubborn days past her due date, only 4 1/2 hours of active labor, 2 short and easy pushes, and with no doctor/midwife present; Kaylani Judith Marie finally made her dainty appearance into this world. She is tall (oh so tall), yet still tiny as can be. 

Labor and Delivery Video (Footage)
can be found HERE

Sissy adores her! She had really hoped it was a girl.

Brother has been taking her in little by little, but she is slowly growing on him. 

And daddy of course, couldn't be happier!

Mommy and Daddy are exhausted and we are all still very much adjusting to life as 5 (ahh, Kev and I are officially out numbered), but we so grateful for such a healthy and happy baby!

Welcome to the family Miss Kaylani, we sure do love you, tiny princess!

Labor and Delivery Video (Story)
can be found HERE

15 July 2014

Kaydence at FOUR!

I never wanted a little girl. When I imagined myself with kids I always pictured boys. I am one of 4 girls and my mother's side of the family is full of them, it's the Johnson "curse." So when I found out I was pregnant with a little girl, I was at a loss. What was I going to do with a little girl? I am really not 'girly.' I hate high heels, I wear make up almost never, and dresses have never been my thing (my thighs rub together and the chafing is just awful).

So here we are 4 years later, and I couldn't imagine my life without a little girl.

At only 4 years old Kaydence is such a little spirit. So timid and shy when in new situations and around new people, but the most outgoing and boisterous little girl when in her comfort zone. She has no concept of personal space and prefers to be in yours. At only four she is a bookworm. Choosing books well beyond her age level and even reading small words. 

She will choose balloons, bubbles, and empty boxes over toys any day, and being outdoors is really her thing. She is a sour patch kid; bitter as ever when things aren't going her way, yet sweet as can be when she wants to be. She knows her brother's buttons and pushes them often, yet she hates being without him. He is the yin to her yang. She is a dancer! The most graceful, petite, long legged and perfect ballerina. It's her niche, for sure. Crafting is also her thing. Give her paint, paper, crayons, glitter, googly eyes, modeling clay, and whatever other craft item you can think of and she will be happily entertained for hours. She is all girl and loves everything pink, purple, tulle and glittery. She is articulate, oh so articulate. There are times when I wonder if I am speaking with a four year old or forty year old. 

I am so in love with her spunky personality and large spirit; and although she is in a phase where that spunk can be a little overbearing and hard to handle at times, she sure wouldn't be Kaydence without it.

My Dearest Kaydence,

I never wanted wanted a little girl, but the moment the doctor placed your tiny 6lb 13oz body in my arms, I knew I wanted YOU! You are everything I could have never imagined in a little girl and my very first true love. 

Happy 4th Birthday my sweet Kaydence Bug. Mommy & Daddy love you so very much!

Kaydence's 4th Year of Life Video (Click Here)

30 June 2014

{The Struggle}

Today marks the single digit countdown until my due date, and in these fleeting moments before our lives change (for the good) again; I find myself doing a lot of reflecting of the past 10 years and how I got to this place in my life.

One thing that has been a constant is "the struggle." It was the struggle with my childhood that led me to Hawaii. My struggle to pay tuition that led me to the military, which eventually led me to Kevin. And it is our struggle together that has led us to this exact moment, here today.

Now, I am not so self centered that I believe we are the only ones who have struggled to make it to where we are. And I have come to learn that everyone's struggle is hard, for them. There were so many times just a few years ago that I would find myself angry at other people for being in a better position in life than we were, with only having done half the work we had. It didn't seem fair, it still doesn't seem fair; but one thing I have come to learn is that I have to let go of these things I cannot change.

So, as I sit back and reflect on this last decade of my life I have begun to realize that this "struggle" of ours is exactly what makes my little family so strong. It is in the hardships of now knowing whether we will have to drop out of school and forfeit the idea of a degree, because we either don't have the help we need for our children or the money we need to live; that we discover the strength of a husband and wife's comradery. And through this strength we persevere and earn our first degree all on our own. It is the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck that has us discovering creative and inexpensive ways to bond as a family. It is the struggle of wondering how we will replace our long overdue roof and older than Jesus windows that keeps our electric bill floating somewhere in the $400's during the winter, that keep us humble and so very appreciative of  all the wonderful things we do have. And it is the lack of date nights/days and little to no time for "us" that makes us cherish the moments we do have together even more.

This month Daddy graduated with his first degree.

As I ponder these past years, and worry about our future as a family of 5. I begin to realize that it is "the struggle," the "lack of" that makes this family strong and keeps us happy. I take pride in the fact that where we lack in our bank account we more than makeup for in love. We are a simple family. We don't need things to keep us happy. We don't flaunt what we have or feel the need to share our "riches" with whoever will listen. We love finding great deals and second hand stuff fills our home. The approval of other's does not define us, and this struggle of our's is real.

A very real pleasure.

I always tell Kevin "Someday we are going to make it. Someday things won't be this hard." But today I realized we already have made it; and as long as my heart continues to feel this happy, I will gladly live this struggle, for the struggle is a part our story. 

21 June 2014

{35, 36 & 37 Weeks Pregnant} with baby #3

Well let's play catch-up, shall we.

I have reached that point in pregnancy where there is really no new changes from week to week, just the same old stuff.

  • Acid Reflux
  • Swollen Feet
  • Back Pain
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Frequent Urination
  • Braxton Hicks 
The same old stuff, just a different week...

For my week 35 visit I had and ultrasound to see in what position the baby was in. I am happy to announce that baby is head down, locked and loaded. I am determined to have my natural labor and delivery and a breach baby just wouldn't do. I also had my Step-B test done at this time and was happy to hear that it came back negative. Baby's heartrate was 140.

For my week 36 visit absolutely nothing happened. Baby's heartrate was 140.

For my week 37 visit, I was told that my fundal height measurements were showing to be about 4 weeks behind what the baby's gestation should be. I was measuring 33cm at 37 weeks. I have been consistently measuring 1-2 weeks behind for the past four weeks or so, but the fact that I am measuring so far behind has the doctor just a tad bit concerned. He scheduled me for an ultrasound to have the baby checked out and measured. He is looking to see if there is enough amniotic fluid around the baby, and if the baby is showing adequate weight gain. If baby is small and it shows that my placenta is not doing it's job, Doc plans on inducing me early to give baby a better chance. Baby's heartrate was 140. 

I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried. Up until this point I have had a seemingly uneventful pregnancy and it scares me that so close to being able to hold my sweet angel something may be "wrong." I don't care how many children you have the fear of stillbirth, birth defects and NICU babies is still something that hangs in the back of your mind until the moment you see and hear the confirmation that your baby is fine. Luckily I have two little ones and a jam packed schedule to keep my mind busy. There is no time to dwell on the unknown, so I will patiently await my ultrasound in a few days and hope that baby is just little, but doing wonderfully. 

Yesterday, I found myself in Labor and Delivery. Not due to contractions but lack of movement from my wiggle worm. This baby, moves a TON! There is never a moment that he/she doesn't let me know it is still there. So after a quiet evening and an entire morning of no movement I was concerned. Out of precaution, I headed to L&D for the first time since becoming pregnant (something I did all the time with my previous pregnancies) and had a Non-Stress Test (NST) done. After one hour and and giant cup of apple juice, baby was back to their normal squirmy self and I was on my way home a happy mama. 


:: I am a zombie, I forgot how absolutely exhausting the last few weeks of pregnancy are. I am really looking forward to getting my energy back.

:: At 37 weeks and 3 days pregnant, I have still not packed my hospital bag. I have not pulled a single thing out of the closet, I still haven't bought the cooler for my placenta, and I have no idea what the baby will be wearing home from the hospital (in fact I haven't even given it a thought). 

:: One of my major fears of going into labor is how my house will look while I am gone. I work so hard to keep my home clean, I have dreamed of the chaos that will ensue the moment I leave and it scares the living crap out of me.

Back again at 38 weeks. 


30 May 2014

{33 Weeks} with baby #3

I can't seem to get on a good schedule with my pregnancy updates. The time is flying so rapidly I feel like I blink and six weeks have passed. As I type this right now I am 34 weeks 2 days preggo, but my last picture was at 32 weeks and my last OB appointment was at 33 weeks. I did do a Youtube update of my pregnancy at 31 weeks and will include a link to that video HERE so you all can check it out.

So, onto the important stuff. How am I feeling?


...and at the same time weepy and nostalgic.

I am creeping into the territory of needing this pregnancy to be over; while at the same time I am desperately not wanting it to end.

The limitations that late pregnancy impose on your body is hard for a mom of two little one, ages three and under. My energy is low, my mobility limited, and my patience non existent. I had been pretty active up until a few weeks ago, but the pain of running took it's toll on my back and I decided running was out of the question until our newest little one makes their appearance. With this new lull that I am in, I find it hard to be as physically engaged with the kids as I would like to. Not to mention this baby has decided taking up root in my lungs is the most comfortable place to be.

Color Run, May 11, 2014 (Mother's Day). My last race during pregnancy

I have gained a total of 25lbs thus far putting me right on track for weight gain...had I been in the "normal" bmi category before becoming pregnant. But technically at 5'6" and 155lbs I was considered "overweight" before I began this pregnancy, so my 25lb weight gain has me shooting above the grey area on the "Prenatal Weight Gain Chart." I stick my tongue out to that stupid chart. Not only did I look and feel great before I became pregnant, I was the healthiest I had ever been. My diet was at its best; my resting heart rate hovered in the 50's; and not only did I work out on a regular basis, I had run three marathons in an 18 month period before hand. During this pregnancy I have maintained a healthy diet, continued to run and at 34 weeks pregnant my heart rate is still considerably low at on only about 70bpm. When you compare my current weight gain at this point to my previous two (50+lbs gained for each kid) I would have to say I am doing just fine!

Me only 3 months prior to finding out I was pregnant.
Those stupid BMI charts can kick rocks!

At my 33 week appointment last week baby was doing great! Tons of movement and a strong heart rate of 160bpm. I finalized everything for my placenta encapsulation and look forward to talking more about that after baby is born and I see how they work for me. Next week is my final biweekly appointment and from then on I am seen weekly. I have decided with this pregnancy I will not be checking for dilation or effacing. I did that each week from 35 weeks on with both of my previous pregnancies and it seemed to have done absolutely nothing but give me false hope. So this time around I have decided to just let labor happen when it happens. I won't check to see if I am dilating, I won't have my membranes stripped, I won't try every remedy in the book to "induce" labor, I am just going to let it happen.

I have found myself quite weepy lately, for a variety of different reasons. I am beginning to deeply grieve the fact that this is my last pregnancy. I spend a little extra time holding my belly as I feel my little wiggle worm squirm and kick inside of me. I stare a little harder in the mirror at my ever growing naked body/belly after showers, trying hard to brand the memory of what I looked like pregnant into my brain. I am savoring the last few weeks of this life inside  of me, while I am still its life line. Because I see everyday with Kaydence and Kameron's new flourishing independence that I won't be needed forever.

I also find myself nostalgic and afraid of the coming changes. My baby boy won't be the baby anymore, the chaos of life will become a little lot more chaotic, and my even perfect family of four (2 boys and 2 girls) will soon be an odd number of five.

These fears are always short lived. A quick thought, a few tears then they fade to the sound of fighting, the hum of a dishwasher, the cough from a sick little one, the bark of our dog; and then I add the soft cry of newborn in my head and suddenly it all seems right. While I mourn this last pregnancy, I am also very excited to close this chapter of my life. I have had my fun growing the most perfect babies and now I am ready to grow with them. I will savor every last sound, smell and drop of these little peoples young lives, and I look forward to the days of when they are older and we have more flexibility and mobility. Our home is perfect. Just enough bedrooms for three and more space than we could have ever asked for rearing to our children. I am excited to watch it fill with the memories of my little ones, and I am happy to be getting my body back. While it sadden's me to know that this chapter in my life is coming to an end, it is time. And it feels great to say that at 26, I am done. A home, a husband, 3 kids, a dog, a cat, a minivan and we are all healthy and happy. What more could I ask for!

So I take the acid reflux, heartburn, back pain, pelvic pressure, incontinence, and bladder blows in stride. For I know this won't last forever.

:: Confession ::

::: I secretly want my water to break (when I have hit full term) as the indication that baby is ready to come. I have never had this experience as I have been induced with both of my previous pregnancies. Such a weird thing to want, huh?

::: I am about 99.1% sure that this baby is a girl. In fact, I am confident enough to buy the letters for the nursery and hang them up already. (I might be eating these words soon.)

::: My nesting instincts have gotten out of control. I am climbing (unsteadily might I add) onto bar stools so I can dust light fixtures and the top of doorways. There is nothing more that I want right now than to have my house completely set up the way I want it before baby get's here. It has become my obsession.

Back again next week for my 35 week update! 
Until then enjoy some footage of my wiggle worm!

06 May 2014

Kameron's Journey Begins... {The Diagnosis}

Where to begin? Let's just start from the beginning...

On March 7, 2014 Kameron began to complain of right leg pain. He had been limping for a few days and being worried that he may have injured it in his normal 2 year old rough play, Kev and I decided to take him into the ER. He had an x-ray done, and was discharged a few hours later with a diagnosis of 'Toxic Synovitis'; a condition that is caused by a viral infection that sometimes settles in the hip joint. The virus causes swelling at the hip joint and makes it painful to walk. It is fairly common in children his age. Since he had been pretty sick just a few weeks earlier this diagnosis made sense. We were told that this would pass in a about two weeks (max) and it was nothing to be concerned about. We went home relieved, gave him ibuprofen for the pain and swelling and began the process of waiting it out.

Fast forward a month.

On April 10, 2014, I took Kameron to see our pediatrician. By this time it has been well over the two week max mark that was given to us at the ER, and Kameron's limping and complaints of leg pain had not subsided. In fact, they had gotten worse. What used to be just sporadic verbal complaints of  "knee hurts," had morphed into daily complaints of "weg (leg) hurt." He had began to point directly at his right hip and even things like changing his diaper would cause him to complain of pain. After a long day of x-rays, pokes, prodding and lab draws our pediatrician seemed to be very concerned with his visible limp and complaints of pain, and we were finally referred to an Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist. I wrote about this experience in a previous blog that can be found here.

Fast forward four days.

On April 14, 2014, We had our first appointment with Kameron's Pediatric Orthopedic Specialist. The appointment was short. She manipulated Kameron's hip in different positions to find out his range of motion and to see if anything caused him pain. She had him walk, then run up and down the hallways of Seattle Children's Hospital as she assessed the degree of his limp. And lastly she reviewed his x-rays from the week before. Then without hesitation she explained to me that Kameron had Legg-Calve Perthes Disease (LCPD), a pediatric hip disorder that causes the head of the femur to collapse due to lack to blood to the area. She went on to further explain that the cause of LCPD is unknown and treatment options vary depending on how the head of his femur deteriorates and grows back. She explained that there is a four stage process to LCPD and currently Kameron is in the first stage in which the head of his femur is not receiving blood and therefor is collapsing and dying. During this stage he begins to complain of hip pain and will have a noticeable limp that may be better or worse some days. Until the end of the rebuilding process in 2-5 years we have no idea what his prognosis will be. The only thing we can do right now is NOT allow him to jump, run, rough play, or do anything that can cause more damage and make the regrowing process more difficult. Basically, we have to stop our 2 year old boy from being a 2 year old boy, for the next 2-5 years.

The uncertainty of this disease is what's hardest. He has a greater chance of having his hip pop out of socket. As we "wait and see" how this progresses we are looking at possible bedrest with traction, casts, braces, surgery, physical therapy, a combinations of some of these and/or nothing at all. The ultimate hope is that he regain mobility of the hip and that the bone will regrow and reshape correctly. From start to finish, stages 1-4 could take anywhere from 2-5 years and treatment could be longer if his femur does not regrow properly. Just from having LCPD he is at a higher risk of having a hip replacement later in life and/or developing crippling arthritis in his hip.

Kevin and I are having a very difficult time keeping Kameron from running and jumping. We have had to implement a 'No Running in the House Policy' to make it an equal playing field for both kids. We have learned that swimming and cycling are good activities for kids with LCPD as they are low/no impact. I have been looking into swim classes and with summer just right around the corner there will be more options for getting outside for bike rides and to swim. We are learning how to play without the rough housing (which is hard) and I have turned to online support communities for parents with children who have LCPD. Some days are harder than other as Kameron complains non-stop of his leg pain. On these days we are following his Orthopedic's advice and are avoiding parks and outside play. This is most difficult for Kaydence as she too is forced to stay inside and play quiet non-active games. When we get the opportunities, Kev and I try to get some one-on-one time with Kaydence to allow her to be able to do the things she cannot normally do when brother is around. However, with our busy schedules and me nearing the end of this pregnancy our time is often limited.

Kameron doesn't know his limit, and at 2 years old I can't be surprised. It is hard to constantly tell him "stop," "no more jumping," "no running," "walk please," "buddy you have to stop stomping." He will often push through the pain, caught up in the joy of play and it won't be until he has stopped that he realizes his leg hurts. Knowing he is in constant pain hurts my mama heart, the limping is hard to watch, and knowing that we can't do anything to help him really sucks.

So as of now we wait it out. We adapt and adjust and we figure it out as we go. We are learning what sacrificing as a family means and we are doing what we can to make sure that our sweet boy will still be able to be the active child he deserves to be.

Here are some websites to help explain and give more education to Legg-Calve Perthes Disease:

Seattle Children's Hospital
Scottish Rite Hospital
Mayo Clinic
Kids Health

21 April 2014

{28 Weeks} with baby #3

We have reached the finally trimester of this pregnancy, and I have officially moved to bi-weekly OB appointments. I must admit this last trimester of my last pregnancy has me quite weepy and excited all at the same time. With my last pregnancy quickly coming to an end I find myself pouty and sentimental knowing that I am experiencing all of my lasts. I think what makes it even harder, is the fact that I don't have the time to cherish it the way I would like to. Kids, a new home, cleaning, laundry, my business they all keep my pretty busy and it is easy to forget I am pregnant. I forget to eat, forget to rest, forget to sit and talk to this last Tatum Tot. The time is flying and as I sit at the end of 28th week I am beginning to realize that we only have 11 short weeks until my due date, and then this chapter of growing babies officially comes to an end. Never again to feel the flutters of life inside of me, to experience hiccups that aren't mine, to know the feeling of being kicked in the bladder.

While I am sentimental about the end of baby growing years, I am also very excited to meet this newest little one. The little person that will finally complete our family and make us whole. This little person that will add to the spirit of our home and fill our hearts with love. I am excited to finally call this baby by it's name and see how Kaydence and Kameron react to their new baby brother or sister.

:: Symptoms ::

Baby Movement - The movement from this baby is no longer sweet little flutters. I now get full on kick, jabs and head butts that are clearly visible through my belly and even semi-painful sometimes. I love every moment of it!

Acid Reflux - My chest and throat are on fire! Nothing I eat is safe and no time of the day is better than others. This was my biggest complaint with both of my previous pregnancies and this pregnancy seems to be no exception

Restless Leg Syndrome - My legs seem to get this tingly feeling at night and it makes it really difficult for me to sit sill. I can be dead tired and unable to sleep, feeling like I need to move. 

Lack of Sleep - I somehow always forget that not sleeping through the night starts in the third trimester, when your belly becomes too big for any position to be comfortable and you insentient need to pee keeps you running to the bathroom every 30 minutes.

Frequent bathroom breaks/incontinence  - Frequent bathroom breaks is not just a night time occurrence; I pee all the time, and sometimes even when I am not ready. One single sneeze, cough, head butt to the bladder and the flood gates are open. Yes, people this is "normal"!

Itchy belly - My belly is beginning to itch. Everyday I lather it in coconut oil and lotion but there seems to be no amount of hydration to penetrate this insistent itch.

Back Pain - It's at an all time high this third time around. I had hoped my extra fitness level during this pregnancy would help to eliminate the back pain, but the fact of the matter is a bad back is a bad back, period. I have taken more epsom salt baths in the last month than I have in the last 4 years, but it is the only thing that seems to sooth this tired, achy back of mine. 

Braxton Hicks - Yep, they have started. I blame myself mostly. I don't do a great job of staying hydrated and knowing my limit. In fact, the braxton hicks tend to be the reminder for me to drink more water and take a seat. I know this is not good, but I have a hard time just sitting and doing nothing. 

Gallbladder Pain - Yep, still here.

:: Cravings ::

- Any vegetable with ranch dressing

- Watermelon

-And this particular week I haven't been able to think of anything more than fried catfish, collard greens and black-eyed peas (soulfood has been speaking to my soul)

Back again at 30 Weeks! 

10 April 2014

{Today Was Hard} The Pictures You Don't See

Today was hard.

For over a month now, Kameron has been complaining of "leg" pain while walking with a noticeable limp. We went to the ER a month ago to have it checked out and was given the diagnosis of Toxic Synovitis (Click Here for previous blog with more info). However, he has not been getting better but in fact has become worse. So I made an appointment with his pediatrician to have it reassessed.

Today was his appointment.

Since daddy had an appointment of his own to attend today, I flew solo with both kids to this appointment. Everything went as usual in the beginning. We checked in, Kameron and Kaydence climbed all over the chairs in the waiting room and tapped on the fish tank clearly marked "Please do not allow your children to tap on fish tank glass." I told them to sit they didn't listen, blah, blah, blah, the usual. Eventually we were called back to see the doctor. Kameron was weighed and measured, his vitals taken and soon the doctor was in to check him out. With only a quick exam she seemed pretty worried about his hips and immediately put in an order for x-rays. We were sent upstairs to outpatient x-ray and was told to come back when they were finished. With both kids in tow, we made our way upstairs to x-ray and things immediately began to fall apart.

I was refused service due to the fact that I was alone with Kaydence. Being pregnant with another little one in tow did not allow for me to be useful in the x-ray room. With Kevin at his appointment and nobody else able/willing to drop everything to be available to hold my son down for his x-ray at 10:30am on a Thursday; I informed the receptionist that it was only me, I had no one to help. Annoyed, I asked "What if I was a single mother and had no help? What would you all do then?" Coldly, the women repeated that I needed to find someone to assist in the x-ray room and until then they could do nothing. With a child in each hand I marched out of the x-ray department loudly grumbling about how stupid and unhelpful they were. The kids and I trotted back downstairs where I informed the receptionist at our pediatricians office that I could not get my son's x-rays done as requested by his doctor. After a brief moment, the receptionist left and came back with a nice nurse who would be my "extra" person for Kameron's x-ray. Once again we made our way upstairs to the x-ray department where we finally checked in. They "play area" was nothing more than one of those abacus looking things with the beads that can be pushed along different colored squiggly pipes and one single book. Needless to say it wasn't long before the kids became restless. Kameron cutely began to state that he was "ready-a-go" (ready to go) and after calmly telling him a few times that we needed to wait to get pictures of his legs, he began to get upset. The cute "ready-a-go" quickly turned into loud screams of "no pictures" and within a minute he was in a full tantrum on the floor.

His screams could be heard downstairs in pediatrics (this I am sure of), and soon the thrashing and kicking began. Kameron's tantrums are beyond awful. He becomes the toddler version of the hulk and no amount of consoling is possible. Only a few minutes into this massive fit, I had three staff members come back to the play area trying to calm him down. One person offering him a Disney movie, another coloring books, and another reading books. With every offer he became more and more enraged. Angry that we weren't listening to him. He didn't want movies or coloring books, he wanted to go. He began to kick me, with shots inevitably hitting my belly as I held him cradle style across my lap. I immediately put him down on the floor prepared to ignore him as he threw his fit. No more than a minute later, I had a women approach me and ask me to follow her. She stated that in order to save me them the embarrassment she was going to take me to a private room. After walking down what seemed like the longest hallway into the deepest part of the x-ray department, I was carted into an empty office with nothing more than a few chairs. She shoved a few magic 8 balls into the kids hands and closed the door. I am now livid.

Kameron's fit continued. We waited a total of one hour before someone finally came to get us. We were escorted to the dressing room where I fought my angry, screaming toddler into his gown as he desperately tried to pull his regular clothes back on. I carried him kicking and screaming to the x-ray room where I left him with my nurse escort and two other technicians. Kaydence and I sat in the hallway listening to his screams for mommy. After what seemed like forever, the x-rays were finally done and I toted what seemed like a grumpy but no longer kicking and screaming toddler back to the dressing room. Thinking it was finally over I started to change him and the fit started up again. Full on thrashing, kicking, screaming. He didn't want to get dressed. I stared at my naked toddler as he rolled across the ground, banging his head on the walls next to him as he screamed "no pants." I begged my son to get dressed. Bribed him with the idea of ice cream, candy, stickers, toys, anything I could to make him calm down. Beyond flustered I grabbed my phone from my purse, dialed my husband and prayed that his voice would calm him. Just as I hit the "call" button, Kameron immediately slaps the phone from my hand and kicks it away while screaming "no call." A second later I hear the deep, calm voice of my husband say "hello" and in that instant I loose it. I begin to full on ugly cry. Deep belly, can't breath cry. I am at a loss of what to do. I have a screaming toddler on the floor in front of me, a very confused and neglected little girl next to me, I am 27 weeks pregnant with another and I have no clue how I am possibly going to do this. I am overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, exhausted, terrified of the future and at a complete loss in this moment.

As I bawled, I could hear my sensitive sweet girl telling me to calm down. "It is ok, mama. Don't cry." Kameron quickly began to calm and soon he was crawling in my lap giving me kisses and asking for hugs. After a few minutes I calm myself down, tell my husband I love him and before I know it Kameron is dressed and we are headed out of the x-ray department more than an hour and a half after we arrived. As I follow the signs for the 'exit' down the windy hallways I am not oblivious to the looks of sympathy and empathy from staff members and patients. I can only imagine how I looked; A massively pregnant, puffy red eyed woman with a sniffly toddler in her right hand and scared, confused preschooler in the left.

Kameron calmly made it through the rest of our pediatricians appointment and a big boy blood draw (thank god he wasn't throwing a fit then!) I did ask the doctor if his tantrums are "normal," afraid something may be more serious (I mean the kid screamed and  thrashed around for almost 2 hours!). I was told with a chuckle and a smile that he is absolutely normal. We were told he has a temper (probably from me and my family history of tempers) but that he is fine and will be fine. Our pediatrician assured us this was a phase and in time would pass. As I buckled the kids into their carseats and pulled out of the parking lot I felt exhausted; mentally, emotionally and physically. So often I post pictures and videos of my smiling happy kids. I quote their cute sayings/conversations and declare how lucky I am.

But with every smiling picture I post there was at least one meltdown to counter balance it. I yell, I get frustrated, I get annoyed, and at the end of some days I cry in exhaustion. This ride of parenthood isn't easy, everyday it gets harder and harder and everyday I question weather I am strong enough to handle it.

Because sometimes it's just hard.

You would have no idea this adorable face was a hellacious screaming toddler for 2 hours!

08 April 2014

{24 Weeks} with baby #3

I swear the weeks are flying by! While I have had a few major pregnancy events occur in the past month, it has really been a pretty uneventful 4 weeks.

At 21 weeks, I had the worst gallbladder attack after a morning breakfast of poptarts. Only a few hours into my work day I was unable to bear the pain any longer and was taken to the ER by a fellow coworker. Let's just say  1 MRI, 1 chest x-ray, 1 pelvic exam, 2 ultrasounds, 2 shots of morphine, and 6 hours later the doctor was able to tell me that I have a bad gallbladder, however, since there is no visible sign of infection or inflammation there is nothing that can/will be done at this point in my pregnancy. I was given directions on how to follow a low/no fat diet and told to wait it out until after baby is born.

This hasn't been going too well. I totally fail at self control and then I hate myself for hours afterwards. This gallbladder pain is seriously no joke!

At 22 weeks, heartburn and acid reflux kicked in big time! I had this problem with all of pregnancies so I knew it was coming. Luckily we are fully stocked on Zantac and I have been able to keep it at bay (for for the most part).

This week I started running again as well. It felt so good to get back into the swing of things and with as much as I have been eating lately I needed the extra boost of metabolic burn to ease some of the guilt.

At 23 weeks, I ran my second race during this pregnancy. I was only 5 weeks pregnant at my first race so as far as running goes, I was completely unaffected by the fact that I was pregnant. This time was much different. With the recent increase in my back pain due to terrible core strength, I have been forced to change a few things. I now run with a pregnancy back brace to help give my back a fighting chance. My speed is much slower than it used to be and breathing is a bit more difficult as this baby begins to push it's way up to my lungs. During my runs I usually feel really good. Running doesn't seem to be uncomfortable to painful, just different. It isn't until after the run is over that the pains kick in and suddenly I feel like I was hit by a bus. My back is definitely taking the brunt of it all and I was ready to call it quits after this weekend's St. Patty's Day race. However, at my recent OB appointment, my doctor encouraged me to keep going. He guided me though a few wonderful lower and middle back stretches, advised me to take shorter distance runs, and told be to alternate between elliptical and running. Being an avid runner himself he was very encouraging and proud of the fact that I was still running and being active.

Today, at 24 weeks and 1 day I am officially in the positive with my weight gain. As of today I have gained 10 lbs in total. My back is killing me and I am still balancing foods I want vs. foods that will set my gallbladder off. My little Tatum Tot is moving bunches and oodles; especially at night. For so many weeks now I have been trying to get Kevin to feel these baby stabs (as they are no longer butterfly flutters) and finally just a few days ago during the middle of the night Kev felt the movement of his final child in utero.

Not knowing the gender of this baby, having pretty much nothing bought for them, knowing I have no plans for a baby shower, and with nobody but myself being able to feel this sweet little prince/princess's kicks inside of me has had me a bit down. I want this baby to feel as special as the other two were and it seems that with the hustle and bustle of life and no place for us to call his/her own, he/she is just a forgotten soul. I was really happy that Daddy was able to finally feel the kicks of this baby and that someone besides myself was finally able to experience the lovely little spirit growing inside of me :-)

I have also be nesting like a crazy person lately. Cleaning everything; purging the kids playroom of old toys; washing and separating old baby cloths into boy/girl boxes that will be ready for when we find out the gender; and even blue printing the nursery (down to the art that will be hanging on the wall).

 With us finally hitting the stage of viability, I am really feeling the love for this little life and am excited to make my family whole :-)

Take a wild guess which side Baby K is on :-)

20 March 2014

{Week at a Glance} March 13 - March 20, 2014

This week there are fewer pictures but still some really wonderful, great memories.

{One of my favorite moments}

Walking through the grocery store and hearing the distinct sound of a ukulele. The Hawaiian hearted girl in me wanted to know where this magical island music was coming from. So I followed the sound and discovered the source of the Hawaiian melody was from a sweet Samoan kid playing his ukulele right along-side his mother, who shopped peacefully and completely undisturbed by the large number of curious eyes.

I envied the mother and the son for their ability to be so unaware of the judgmental looks. And just between you and I, I kind of followed them throughout the store. The ukulele brought me back to the island and I wanted to hold onto that moment for as long as I could.

{One of my favorite conversations}

This weekend we had the pleasure of hanging out with my husband's sister. She is such a fun spirit and it is always a pleasure to have her around. On Sunday evening she bought us dinner (or rather the makings for dinner) and after coming back from the store hubby made a delicious Shepard's Pie.

Kevin: "Babe, Not only did Karen buy ALL of the groceries for dinner, she also filled up the gas tank while she was out."

Me: "KAREN!!"

Karen: "Huh?! It was an accident...The gas just fell in there."

This week I embraced my African American side. Since the big
chop almost a year ago, my hair has officially hit the inbetween
phase, and after much encouragement from my husband I finally
picked it out and let my fro flow proudly :-) I love how
supportive and loving he has been through all of my hair phases.

I officially began my new job this week.
I am now part-time nanny to this cutie!
 Lucky me right?!

This week I ran a St. Patty's Day 10k.
Running for Two blog coming soon with more details.

This cutie has begun to voluntarily sit on the potty.
He still isn't putting anything in it, but sitting is a big step for us!




Yesterday was a 'Free Day' for all Washington State Parks. We took advantage of this and headed to the state park just 10 minutes from our home, and I am so glad we did. Beautiful wooded hiking trails met by the perfect serenity of sand and water. Two completely different exeriences in one trip. We all LOVED being out of the house and surrounded by nature. It was truly a wonderful evening!

Oh, and this happened! We had our septic tank pumped yesterday.
That thing was full to the brim, I am glad Kev and I decided to check on
it. If we would have waited any longer it would have been bad news.
There is still so much to learn about this home owning experience!
Good thing we only have to tear apart a portion of my lawn every 3-4 years :-)
Kev was happy to be the first to contribute his waste to our newly pumped
septic tank. Oh the joys!