Mastering the bits

I see now why moms (mostly moms with infants) have duck fins. They are constantly moving, yet remain calm on the surface. If a moment arises to sit and NOT move, it is treasured like appreciating a Phoenix sunset. The rarity of it makes it very hard to actually relax because the moving never ends; the moving of not only every limb of the body but the mind.

Writing gives me a chance to remain reflective and introspective; I constantly am analyzing my Tatum-raising while probably ignoring every other ruminating opportunity. That is perhaps why this blog has morphed into “Totally Tatum.”

Pre-Tatum, and as a single gal no kids, my world really was filled with Totally Steph. As much as I would like to defend my altruism through being an educator or a giver of my time to my church…or as an all around good person who loves others,  I always could come home to my house and my couch with my bible or favorite book and my homemade meal on my schedule…all completely taken for-granted and really not realizing it was all about me. How could I know what I did not know? And how could I know what the other side would be like? One cannot possibly judge either world until, as Atticus Finch says, “You walk around in [his] shoes for a while.”

In fact, I think that Washington D.C-ites or School boards/decision-makers cannot really be considered credible unless they have ANY CLUE as to what they are defending. For example, people making decisions about insurance formularies or coverage are NOT usually physicians or pharmacists. People making decisions about what is best for education are NOT teachers or home-school parents. People who make decisions about funding for our military have NOT been in the military experiencing first-hand the importance of the U.S. being a strong nation.

Removing myself from this waxing eloquent pedastal which really is just some fierce wonderings, I am learning to appreciate and master the bits of uninterrupted time to just sit; to just appreciate; to just be. Tatum has given me this gift; the gift of true gratitude. And an appreciation of the importance of mastering the bits.

QT with my QT

Qualtiy time with my CUTIE! It is a total blessing living right next door to the Railroad park. While the rest of Scottsdale decided to celebrate “Black Friday,” Tatum and I decided to spend our money on riding the TRAIN!
At a gorgeous 72 degrees, Tatum had her water and I had my shades.


Off we went, taking the short cut through the back side. This way we avoid the parking lot which was packed. Weren’t all these families supposed to be spending their money at Kierland or SFS? Nope. They were here. Babies from 1 month (being carried in pouches) to family reunions lunching at the ramadas. The line for the train looked a mile long, but oh well, we are here! My $2 ticket (she is free) bought us a place in the 30-minute line. Tatum’s 17.15 pound body continued to increase in weight each minute we stood there. “Where is that darn train, mom?”

IMG_3805However, all around us were kids and babies to meet and parents to commiserate with. Tatum always has to be chewing something, so I had a pouch of pumpkin spinach in my hand since she loves to chew the lid. Delicious! That or my phone. She just traded back and forth as we stood minute by minute. The train is nearing!….FINALLY.
My patient 30-minuter decided the minute we sat in our carseat she would start to squirm. No…..fuss and squirm…No….fuss, squirm, and wiggle! Where is that conductor to yell, “All aboard!”????

At last…..Here we go! AND…..There’s that patient girl’s smile!IMG_3808Around and around and around the park..through the tunnel and back~ She just loved it! We waved “HI!” to all the park goers as they waved back. Thrilling!
With a full diaper and my jello arms, we headed home just in time for a lovely lady to volunteer to snap our pic: IMG_3817
Hooray for Black Friday!




Happy Thanksgiving with my Joyful Family!

What a delicious day we have in store for us.

Delicious: very pleasant to taste; very pleasing or enjoyable. Yep, not only for our palate but for our soul. A day to be completely and totally dedicated to our blessings that we MUST spend time rejoicing. Why? Because this is the key to true happiness: Gratitude. And I am so darn grateful for …. Well, let’s start with God. Without Him and my relationship with Jesus, I’d be a lost puppy, literally; miserable and straying aimlessly. Because OF Him, I have so much. He gave me the opportunity to grow and make mistakes and still be loved. He gave me this precious bundle:

My family is the most important gift I have. I’ll spend the day with MY precious MOM, Kelly, James, Morgan, Nyla, Levi, and now James’ mom!! Tatum will enjoy each one 😉

IMG_0587James, after riding 100 miles with Levi on “Tour de Bakery” is thrilled to be home!

and Kelly? She spent her day in the kitchen with the ladies as they all made miracles for our delight.
IMG_3783Morgan and Nyla diligently made delights, and James can’t wait to partake! Thanks gals 🙂

While all this is being prepared, Tatum is thankful for these walking helpers, Kel’s new oak stools!IMG_3790 IMG_3788Levi and James were not so thankful for the screeching noise interrupting the Raider-Cowboy game. So..thank goodness it’s time for our delights!

But first a toast….to our upcoming spread. A must!IMG_0605IMG_0610

We all shared our most precious thankfulnesses (?) and parTOOK! Tatum enjoyed scraps of turkey, cranberries, potatoes and carrots, gleefully I might add. She made it and is now looking for dessert.

IMG_0609All in all, a brilliant celebration thanks to my family. Tatum and I headed home with our full bellies and our car packed with leftovers! (woohoo!, Thanks Kel!)




The First Annual Tatum Tot Party!

Are we ready?
IMG_0491It came off without a hitch. Did I stress just a tad about it? Mmmmmm, more like a tremendous tad! Why? I had originally wanted to have friends and family just pop in for some cake and a toast to Tatum’s first year celebration. However, without a kitchen and with the house in utter disarray, this was not an option. So, the next step was to find a neutral place where people could come and go and especially where Tatum could be comfortable. A one-year old on the verge of walking does not do well just sitting quietly nor does she stand in one place; she is a mini-crab crawling in every direction attempting to walk. It’s not an easy age to manage! Therefore, the McCormick Railroad Park was the best choice.
Now, the park has multiple ramadas to reserve, yet they were BOOKED until January. Ok…sure, now what? Well, I had to figure the week of Thanksgiving right after work on Monday or Tuesday would be perfect for getting one, without a reservation; just show up. Tuesday at 4:30pm was perfect. I did have school that day, but I would leave early, pick up the cake etc, grab a table (or have my mom get one for us) and go pick up Tatum! It was all set.

I invited only close friends and family, and I did not want gifts. Our church, City of Grace, has a foster care/adoption initiative which I want to support so this is what I wanted for gifts for Tatum.

After picking up Tatum, Melissa at Temple Chai said she DID nap in the afternoon (upon much pleading from me!) so I prayed she would be in good spirits.

While the guests showed, Bob and Tatum played on the grass to my mother’s chagrin. Yes, I know dogs have been on the ground and so have hundreds of feet, but I needed to let her scope out the place. She stopped for a pose: IMG_3707

Then, time to cut the cake! Thank goodness I had a couple of my students present to help me take pictures. Gabe and Lauren were so helpful! IMG_3718

Tatum looked to me to see what the heck to do with this sugar masterpiece. Did she know she was about to get creamed? 🙂

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Upon tasting this cake, and I mean just a teensy taste (I had to put it on my fingers first), she decided she was done. Susan had brought her a couple books, and she put those in her mouth instead. Words always trump sugar!



Thank you to all who joined us and donated money. She is certainly a blessed child and a BLESSING! 🙂


One is such a fabulous number!

November 22nd, 2013. What was I doing this time last year? I was defrosting my turkey in the sink; it was Thanksgiving no less! Next thing you know, I’m at the hospital awaiting the birth of Tatum. That Thanksgiving had far more meaning than former years. Tatum would symbolize true gratitude and over-abundant blessings to me and my family and I would never let a day go by that she would not know how loved she is. 
IMG_8028 IMG_8017Fast forward ONE YEAR TODAY! The gratitude I feel has only grown. With Tatum has come friendships, challenges to grow character, family closeness, and so many lessons which I need to learn to be the best mommy ever.

Today, was a Friday, so that meant at Temple Chai, there would be Shabbat services. I had two wonderful colleagues cover my English classes since I was only giving a Grammar test (:)) and head over to the services to surprise her. We headed over in the cart with Will, Eli and Malea, along with Fran and Marla. IMG_3631 IMG_3625They sang songs and then we headed forward to say prayers, break Challah bread and sing happy birthday!IMG_3645Then Logan hooked her back in and I headed back to school until I would pick her up for her surprise evening.IMG_3654 IMG_3658She stared at her cupcake in wonderment.  Oddly, she just wanted to play with it. Of ALL things she puts in her mouth, this was NOT one of them! I kept saying, “Try it Tatum!” Nope. She just threw it on the floor and Coti cleaned it all up for me…very convenient these dogs. IMG_3672Then Grandma gave her a teaching clock and she lit up like the candle. This topped all of her day.

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Thank you Grandma for my gifts!
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What a fabulous day of ONE! Such a fabulous number. IMG_3667


The Mystery of the Missing Sock

It was just another day in Tatum’s playpen room. She donned her blue and white striped socks with her blingy Adidas sneakers. Due to it being about bath time, I carefully removed her socks and shoes and placed them in the corner. She went about playing, and I went about playing with her. About 15 minutes later, I continued to undress her and decided to clean up her playpen a bit. It was then that I noticed that one of the socks that I had so carefully placed in the opposite corner had escaped. I searched high and low, knowing that it had been there 15 minutes prior. It could not have gotten away from the playpen unless it grew feet! Where did it go? I looked in her basket of toys, under the mats, under the pillows….everywhere! About 15 minutes later(!), I decided to peak in the only place I had not looked:IMG_3617

This little door that says, “OPEN” and “CLOSE”. I proceeded to “OPEN” the mini-musical door and POW! There it was! How did she do this without me seeing, the little sneak!

IMG_3620She never even gave me a hint to look there….. hmph.