Letting Go

Last night, I was doing the dishes and talking with my Mom. I was remarking how amazing it was that earlier in the day, we had taken D to the bounce house in the mall and she ran into it on her own and played with the other kids. Two months ago, when we tried it, I basically dragged her on it and she barely moved and then cried to leave. A heartful of confidence had built up in her within two months. She looked back for us, of course, but she didn’t need us right there with her. As I tell the story, I look up and see my emotions written all over my mother’s face.

Because, of course, she’s been there too. With me.

A memory springs to mind- it was September in the year 2000, and we had just finished bringing approximately 10,000 loads of crap to my very first dorm room located 4 hours from everything I had known for 17 years. The students that serve as Residential Assistants began ushering parents away from the students, yelling loudly that it was time for them to go. I can still recall the feeling in the pit of my stomach as my Mom looked at me, preparing to say goodbye. She hugged me tightly, kissed my forehead as she has done ten million times and whispered “there’s a girl over there standing alone, I think she could use a friend.” I nodded, we whispered our “Love you mores” and tears sprang to my eyes, knowing when I turned back around, my Mom would be gone.

And she was. When I turned back to wave, she didn’t turn around. I knew she couldn’t. I’m glad she didn’t, because I may have run back to her and driven all the way back to Vermont.

She let me go. And I her, in return. But she had to do it first, so I knew that it was okay to.

Raising kids, and life in general.. it’s all about knowing when to let go. Knowing you’ve done your part. Being there to hear all about the new adventures. Moving into new roles, that you will eventually let go of, as well.

Here’s hoping I learn to do it as gracefully as my Mom.



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The Truth About Foster Parenting

There is no way around it – there are a lot of eyes on you when you’re a foster parent.

The child’s social worker. The child’s Guardian Ad Litem. The children’s biological parents. Therapists. And pretty much everyone that knows that she or he is a foster child. We have already experienced our 2! TWO! year old being overly criticized for her behavior at daycare, with the suspicion that she is watched closely because…. she’s a foster child, you know. 

So imagine if you will, that any given month of parenting your child you have all of these extra people involved in your life. Interrupting dinner. Throwing off the schedule. Doing surprise “checks” on the child at daycare or school, or even your house. Judging you. Judging your foster children (who by now, in your heart, are your children).

It’s hard. I’m not saying it’s harder than any “typical” parenting, but it’s hard. And it’s different.

And we panic all the time, under that feeling of being judged. When we took our 2 year old to the doctor for hurting her ankle, the doctor asked intense questions (how often does she fall? would you say she ‘falls’ more than 3-4 times a week? how long have you been her foster parent again?) that made me feel like I was being interrogated for a 2 year old, who is accident prone, because she’s two! People indicate that we are overly sensitive to these kind of remarks, and likely that’s very true… because we have so many people to prove that we are good parents too. Good enough. Better than the alternative.

And then there is the flip side. All of the comments of “I don’t know how you do it!” “Those kids are so lucky!” “Your family is amazing!” I love these comments, they make me feel good, but also I want to say… that our family is no better than your family. We are not saints. You could do this, absolutely, if it was something that you wanted to do. It’s hard, but so many things in life are hard – aren’t they?

So, if you’ve ever considered being a foster parent – explore the idea! Because even though it’s crazy, and you deal with a lot, the payback is overwhelmingly worth it. Because you are a child’s advocate, protector, safe place to land. And so many children out there need that. So, our house has a revolving door now, c’mon in, whomever you are and judge away.

Because we’re doing the very best we can. Just like you are.

And every day, I hope it’s enough. Not for all of the people judging, but for the children entrusted to our care. It’s their opinions that matter to Casey and I.



” It’s not where you come from, It’s where you belong. Nothing I would trade, I wouldn’t have it any other way…You’re surrounded by love and you’re wanted, So never feel alone…. You are home with me, right where you belong.” ~Kari Kimmel



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Just Right

On Sunday we received our second placement, a 14 year old girl! A very different situation; this is supposed to be a “temporary placement” of about 4 months until her next court date, where she will likely reunify with one of her parents.

This is our first foster care placement where biological parents are currently involved, and reunification is likely. D is not allowed contact with her biological parents, and they have not been actively trying to reunify (so we continue to hope we get to adopt her!).

The feedback we are given from family is friends is awesome, it truly is.

You guys are so great!

Y’all are awesome to take in these kids!

But as, the 14 year old C, reached out to give Casey and I hugs last night when we said goodnight I was overwhelmed… no…. O V E R W H E L M E D with gratitude for her. For them.

When we got into our bedroom, I squealed to Casey, “she hugged us!” and he replied back, “we must be doing something right.”

Our road here hasn’t been easy. And honestly, I can’t always subscribe to the “it all happens for a reason!” platitude. But last night, my heart was light and filled with joy.

The joy of being absolutely present in the moment you were meant to be in the whole time.

Like the day they pronounced my Mom “no evidence of disease.”

Like the day I saw the University of Southern Maine library the first time, on a college tour.

Like the day Stacey was wheeled away saying “I’ve gotta go rock” and donated her kidney to my Mom.

Like the day I married Casey.

Like the day baby D spontaneously said “Mommy? I love you!” for the first time.

Some moments are just right. Through and through. Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold.

Just right.



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Dear D,

Today you are two!

On June 27, 2014 you said your first unprompted “I love you,” and my heart burst. We were camping, I was at the car and you were inside the tent with “MY Daddy” as you call him. You said “Mommy?” and I said “Yes, baby girl?” and you said “Yuv oooo!” and as I responded with an “I love you too!” I realized that it wast the first time you ever said that to us without being prompted by someone else. And I cried a little.

May the sunlight find your face
Even when the rain does fall
And get back on your feet again
Every time you slip and fall
Keep your heart wide open
And always taking in
And even when it’s broken
Be strong enough to fix it up again

Your words are increasing by the day. You emphatically state “MY Daddy” when you see your Dad, and my heart bursts some more. Watching your relationship with him grow has been beautiful. You love to dance on his feet, and sometimes only his hugs will do. He does “fly” where he zooms you around the room, and “Wee” where he flies you over my head. You hug his leg when he comes home from work, and every morning when I get you ready you say “My Daddy? My Daddy eat? My Daddy work?”

Oh little baby girl
Sweet little baby girl
I wish I could hold your hand in this great big world
Oh little baby girl

I don’t know what this world holds you for you, or for us. Of course I hope one day you’ll be officially ours forever, and we can drop the “Foster” in front of our Mom and Dad titles, but I can’t guarantee it. What I can guarantee is that we love you (to the moon and all the way back) and we always will, whether you live with us or not. You have made us Mommy and Daddy. You have captured our hearts. I want always to protect you, and although I know I can’t always, I will try.

And I hope your hands are steady
And never need to make a fist
And I hope that when you’re ready
You get one never ending kiss
And I hope that deep inside of you
There’s a sweet eternal song
And I hope the words are pretty
And that you’ll always sing along

You love to sing, to dance, and to headbang in the backseat to any song with a good beat. I love that you love music, because it’s so much of who I am, who your Dad is, who your Grammy is.. heck, all of our family is! You also love to give “huggies” to “Skeeer” and “Spiiiinn” and “Boch” who were formerly known as Skeeter, Master Splinter, and Spock.

And I hope your friends are many
And your laughter’s always loud
To help you when you’re lonely
And pick you up when you’re down
I hope your eyes shine bright love
And learn to see the light
Take the time to listen
Decide yourself what’s wrong or right

You are still figuring out your world. You get easily upset when you think I am leaving without you, and you struggle with transition. You are slow to warm up to people, but once you do, you charm them easily with your easy laughter and beautiful smile. You are making friends and like to play. Your favorite games involve putting your dolls to bed, being a doctor, and pouring tea. It’s amazing to see your imagination grow!

Oh little baby girl
Sweet little baby girl
Be strong in this great big world
Oh little baby girl

Baby girl, you are 2 today. I am honored to witness this day and celebrate all the wonderfulness that is you. I will read you “The Night You Were Born” and we will whisper and wiggle through the book, but truer words have never been spoken. You Are Loved.


*Lyrics “Baby Girl” by Will Hoge

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She is fierce with determination.

She easily cries, and she easily moves on.

She laughs with abandonment.

She expects that I will catch her when she leaps, or throws herself backwards.

She likes cheese, tomatoes, juice, cereal, and pretty much everything else except spicy food.

She plays with her hair when she’s tired.

She loves her baby dolls, but during the hour of destruction will throw them to the floor and run them over with her plastic shopping cart.

She loves bubbles, but calls them bubbies (please don’t correct her).

She dances all the time, and sometimes only she hears the music.

She hugs my leg, when she’s “hiding” from Casey.

She likes peek-a-boo, Pat-a-cake, giving high fives and fist bumps.

She twirls and swishes around when she’s wearing skirts.

She grunts at you if she disagrees with your requests.

Her laughter is infectious.

We met her on April 14, 2014 around 5:30 PM.

It was supposed to be a 2 week “respite” placement.

We almost said no.

The timing was bad. I was leaving my job (literally the next day) for a new one. And did we really want to open our hearts for just two weeks?

But the unbelievable happened, And now? Now, we’re hoping for forever.

Forever isn’t guaranteed though, as it is with the foster care system, so we’re just loving her  every. single. day. (for the rest of her life, whether she is adopted by us or not).

She is magic.

Blog friends (if anyone is still out there), meet D.

She is little.

She is fierce.

She will move mountains.

Dalilah Bucket


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30 minutes of driving.

Enough time for about 10 songs. Sometimes the same song on repeat 10 times.

Some mornings tears prick at my eyes. Triggered by words strung together and put to music touching my heart in a way that’s a little too close to the surface.

Some days I count every mile, and sometimes I arrive at my destination with minimal memory of the drive.

Some days the sun is shining, and I sing out loud.

Some days I ride in silence, my thoughts racing… creating a whirring of their own. My heart races, and worries rise to the surface.

Some days I can’t stand the alone-ness. So I call anyone I think might answer and talk to them until the car is in park again.

It is my time. I treasure it and loathe it at the same time. I look forward to it and dread it all at once. It is mine, even though the destination is always theirs.

The morning commute.

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2 Months Gone

Winter 2008 015

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

—David Harkins

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Things I Want to Remember

Dear Casey,

I want to remember the pure love in your Dad’s voice when he told us he’d been going over to have coffee with your Mom at the funeral home every morning since she passed away. Although in the moment I couldn’t think of anything sadder than that image – it was really a gesture of love. He didn’t want her to be alone. Their love has always inspired me, and in that moment I’ve never been so in awe.

I want to remember holding you the night we buried your Mother. You cried. I cried. And we fell asleep with tears on our faces – but together. Always together.

I want to remember buying our new car, sitting in the parking lot of the mall, laying the seats all the way back and looking through the moon roof at the night sky. Talking, laughing, wasting time. Being us.

I want to remember showing up to see Frozen (the Sing Along) and realizing we were the only ones in the movie theater. Oh wait, we’re supposed to take that one to the grave. My bad.

I want to remember the moment that we found out we were officially licensed as foster parents. I texted you immediately and didn’t stop smiling all day. One step closer to being Mom and Dad. One stop closer to family. We came home that night and my Mom started the annual silly string fight. We were ambushed. She’s going to be a great Grandmother. And you are going to be an amazing Father.

I want to remember always how you look at me in the morning when our eyes first meet. You are bursting with love for me and I feel it. Thank you for always letting me feel that.

I want to remember the way that we did 63 Random Acts of Kindness to honor your mother. It was the best thing we could have done to celebrate her life – we spread joy throughout our world, and inspired others to do the same. We’ll never know who was affected by our kindness that day, but I have no doubt everyone who was touched by it spread it on. You are brave, and giving, kind and loving.

I want to remember the day we first opened the sunroof in the new car, and drove down the road, putting our hands through the window, singing at the top of our lungs and laughing. Feeling free. It’s priceless.

There are so many things I want to remember, these are only a few. Thank you for our continued adventures.

I’ll love you more tomorrow and even more the day after.



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It only took 1 year for us to unpack everything since moving into our house. We finished last weekend and it feels like a weight has been lifted. What was left were the unnecessary things… pictures, memories, decorations. I forgot how actually necessary those things are for my soul- I’m happy to have them back hanging on my walls.


I’ve been writing letters to Casey’s Dad every week. You know the snail mail kind. He’s not on Facebook, he doesn’t love texting, and if Casey talks to him for 5 minutes on the phone that’s a long conversation. So I decided to write letters. Just about our weeks. Good things, bad things, all the things in between. I’ve added my Uncle and Dad to the list of men-folk that receive the letter. I hope to write 52 of them this year. Every week. So far, so good.


It snowed here in North Carolina. You may have seen on the news. Unfortunately for the kids around here, it was mostly ice with just a small covering of snow. And because it didn’t warm up for a couple of days, the area was pretty shut down for 3 or 4 days. There’s barely any equipment here, and the ice was very dangerous. I went out one day, and even though I have 15 years of driving-in-winter-weather-experience, I shouldn’t have been on the road. Ice doesn’t care about experience or what kind of car you drive. I got very annoyed with people in the North mocking the southern states about shutting down. After all, the south is just not equipped to deal with ice or snow. And no one down here was making fun of anyone in the North when hurricanes made it up that far. In fact, we had all kinds of people express concern for our families up North and feel very badly because the North doesn’t know how to deal with hurricanes. Stacey told me that Northerners are just meaner. Guess that’s so!


Well, as my mother would say, that’s all the news that’s fit to print from our place. Hope y’all are doing great!



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I have read so many posts about New Years resolutions. It is that time of year, the time for beginnings. The time for the notion of a blank slate. The notion that somehow the world is shining and bright, and that we have within us more resolve to follow through on January 1st, than we do on December 31st.

For me I just hope for healing and peace in 2014. I hope we will find peace in whether we can be foster parents or whether we can’t. I hope that time brings a level of comfort to Casey’s heart as we venture into the first year of his life that won’t include his mother.

My word for last year was “family” and while we didn’t add any kids, so it was not what we hoped for, it was about family in ways I had not imagined. Our family changed in ways we could not and would not want to predict. The lesson this year was – take nothing for granted, especially family.

It’s not that I don’t have any hopes for 2014. I hope to read more, and write more. To stop and smell the roses more. To live the ordinary and see the extraordinary within it. I hope to be gentle with myself and my expectations.

2014 will be a year of change and transition, but also of settling in. A constant ebb and flow – just like every year before it, and every year to come. So this year’s word? Kindness. To my family, friends, strangers. To myself.


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