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The Parent Trip: Tia and Kevin Mathisen of Mt. Airy

Photos by BRIAN JAMES

Kevin and Tia Mathisen with Riley, Reece, and baby Mason.

THE PARENTS: Tia Mathisen, 33, and Kevin Mathisen, 37, of Mount Airy
THE KIDS: Reece Makenzie, 7; Riley Denise, 3; Mason Edward, born Dec. 22, 2016
“KEEPER”MOMENT FROM THEIR WEDDING: Dancing with Reece, then 3 weeks old, to the song “Isn’t She Lovely?”

 

Tia could see a glimmer of light on the next phase of the parent trip.

Reece, her oldest, was in kindergarten; Riley was potty-trained. Tia had taken up jogging and thought she might sign up for a race. Maybe she and Kevin could steal away to Las Vegas, stay in a luxe hotel, and see a magic show. Or she could take a mini-vacation to Hilton Head with her mom-pals, leaving the kids behind.

“I started to plan things for myself; I saw my life as a full life, not solely dedicated to mommy-hood,” she says. She’d even asked Kevin — “nicely, then not so nicely” — to get a vasectomy; he’d gone for a consultation, then balked after reading articles about the procedure.

In May, a drugstore test stick flagged a different kind of future.

“It felt like a dream died,” Tia says. “Like I had to put myself on hold again.”

Kevin made the vasectomy appointment and embraced the idea of a third child. “My level of acceptance came almost immediately,” he recalls. “I became excited, and I crossed my fingers for another girl.”

As a teen, even as a young adult, he hadn’t wanted children. “I was independent and didn’t really see family as being a fit for me.” But he knew he loved Tia practically from the moment they met, when he was a landlord showing her apartments in North Philadelphia.

He offered to help her move, then upped the ante by asking her out to dinner. “I was taken aback because he’s white and I’m black; I thought: Is this white guy crossing the racial barrier and asking me out on a date?” Tia recalls. “It was clear that he was interested in me, and I didn’t know what to do with that.”

Tia missed her family in Birmingham, Ala., and soon found kinship with Kevin’s parents and siblings in West Chester. “We meshed well as a family,” she says.

After one dramatic date — they joined an impassioned crowd to hear Houston mega-church preacher Joel Osteen at the Wells Fargo Center — Kevin said, “You know, tonight, when we were praying, I thought that you might be my wife.”

But before he had a chance to propose, Tia was pregnant. “I never had a thought of: Is this what we want?” she says. “I knew Kevin was a hard worker and that he valued family.”

The pregnancy was an easy float — no morning sickness, not even a swollen ankle — and the couple did their homework, driving from Wynnefield to prenatal yoga classes on South Street, hiring a doula, planning for a drug-free birth at Lankenau Medical Center. On the way there, with Tia’s mom in the car, they chorused that Black Eyed Peas tune: “I got a feeling … that tonight’s gonna be a good night.”

Instead, Tia gritted her way through a 14-hour labor. “I’d never had menstrual cramps, so I had no idea what to expect of a contraction. They knocked me off my feet. … But I remember when they put her on my chest. Unbelievable. Just a second ago, you weren’t here, and now … it took my breath away.”

The early days of parenting, like birth itself, were treacherous: Why was the baby crying? Why was she losing weight? Would Tia’s milk supply ever come in? “The best advice I got was: ‘It’s OK; you don’t know her, and she doesn’t know you. You’re going to get to know each other.’ ”

They wanted a second child, ideally two years behind the first. When conception didn’t happen quickly, they consulted a fertility specialist who advised patience, along with a procedure to clear Tia’s fallopian tubes. She was pregnant the next month.

Tia’s contractions began on Thanksgiving; she remembers seeking refuge in the shower, gripping the edge of the soap dish as each wave of pain swelled and subsided. By the time they drove to Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, with the “low fuel” light glowing, she was almost fully dilated. She pushed for 10 minutes: another wide-eyed girl kangarooed to her chest.

The third time around, friends and acquaintances assumed they were trying for a boy. “People can’t accept that a man and a woman could be happy with just their two girls,” Tia says. Nevertheless, when they sliced the cake — blue! — at a gender reveal party, her eyes filled with tears.

The pregnancy was easy; the effect on her older kids, harder. On a mommy/daughter trip to a Jersey amusement pier, Reece hopped on most of the rides by herself. “It made me sad. I could feel her leaving me faster because of this other baby that I had to make space for.”

Mason arrived a few days before Christmas, after a swift, induced labor. “I kept saying to the midwife, ‘I can’t do it; I’m not strong enough,’ and she said, ‘Yes, you can.’ And she was right.”

With three children, Tia has found, it’s harder to multitask; someone is always seeking her attention. It helps to take a Zen approach to the kids’ needs. “I’ll find myself asking, ‘Why are you so upset that they aren’t lying down right now?’ If I accept that they need an extra kiss tonight, it’s much easier than fighting that.”

Kevin agrees: “You can never prepare yourself for the level of attention kids need,” including the moment he walks in the door from work, when Riley typically charges him with a cry of “DADDY!” and Reece, already affecting a teen’s diffident attitude, sometimes follows suit. Mason might flash one of those moist, gummy grins.

And in the midst of each day’s juggle, in the thicket of exhaustion, Tia can see glimmers — not of freedom, but of fulfillment. “When I see Riley talking to Mason in baby talk, or when Reece says, ‘I just can’t stand it; I have to give him a kiss,’ that is great,” Tia says. “It does feel like this is our family; this is complete.”

http://www.philly.com/philly/living/Parent-Trip-Tia-and-Kevin-Mathisen-of-Mount-Airy.html?mobi=true

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Blooms & Buds

Senior Pictures

Senior Photo Sessions now available for Class of 2015

Attention all Real estate Agents

Attention All Real Estate Brokers and Agents

Showcase your listings with quality and creative images.  As we all know over 90% of buyers begin their search online. It is up to you to make them want to come view the properties they are listing.

Call for rates and availability. 917 202 8968

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Family Shoots!

No matter how sweet and photogenic kids can be,  when there is a difference in ages getting everyone to look great in one shot can be a challenge.  Two recent shoots I realized that no matter how old kids are they all have a mind of their own and a tolerance that they choose, not mom, dad or me!

Some ideas on how to achieve an ideal shoot with more than one child.

  • Naps- Try to get them down before the shoot
  • Treats- Offer an incentive at the end of the shoot
  • Outfits- Come ready if booking a full session start with the most comfortable outfit
  • Start with the group shot and when they start to wiggle move on and take individuals and candids then try again
  • Dont worry so much about the perfect family photo! Sometimes crying or pouting can be the memory you will want to remember.
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Fall For the Arts Festival

Sunday October 6th (Raindate Sunday October 13th)

11 am to 5 pm

Each year Chestnut Hill welcomes Autumn with The Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival.  Everyone is invited to enjoy a day of art, music, culinary delights and boutique shopping as Germantown Avenue, between Willow Grove and Rex Avenues is transformed into an outdoor arts and crafts marketplace.

Chestnut Hill will serve as a backdrop for more than 150 talented artists from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and from as far away as New Mexico. A fabulous array of artistic choices will be on display including oils, watercolors, etchings, photography, sculpture, pottery, wood crafts, jewelry and accessories but that’s not all!

Germantown Avenue will be closed to all vehicular traffic as fine arts and crafts, live entertainment on two stages, exhibits, and children’s rides and activities, take place up and down the street  between the 8000 and 8600 blocks of Germantown Avenue . Visitors can stroll the Avenue to view and purchase fine arts and crafts, enjoy live music or dine al fresco. Children can create their own works of art in sand or wood or choose a favorite ride in a special amusement park. Admission to the festival is free.

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Farm Day!

Such a fun shoot! Ridgely was not as excited as his big sister Emlyn

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