This week Grant, Parker, and I will be at Hayfield for Senior Awards marking our third year of giving out scholarships to graduating seniors.  As of Wednesday, we will have awarded a total of 15 renewable scholarships in Dave’s honor.  It is a privilege to be a part of these students’ continuing education.

A month or so ago, I got the most cowardly form of communication imaginable – a typed, unsigned letter mailed to my home address.  I actually wasn’t going to write about this topic as I thought it might be best to not give it any acknowledgement, but I find that I am still frustrated many weeks later.  Therefore, I am going to get this off my chest so that I can go into Wednesday with the right frame of mind.

The fact that the letter came to my unpublished home address means that someone copied it from one of the letters that I send to each applicant thanking them for applying for the scholarship.  I take a lot of time with these letters.  I reread their applications so that I can connect with them on a personal level and let them know specifically how impressed I was with them.  The gist of the anonymous note was that it is great that we have money to give away but that they did not agree with our selection process.  I assumed it was written by a disappointed student.  Others feel quite strongly that it was written by a parent.

I hope that the letter writer somehow sees this message –

Dear Anonymous,

If you are a Hayfield student, I expect so much better.  You cannot solve anything unless you stand by your words and sign your name.  I would have been more than happy to talk to you about the selection committee made up of representatives from Hayfield, FCPS, friends, and family as well as the multi-faceted scoring rubric we use to select our recipients.  

If you are a Hayfield parent (I truly hope this is not the case) then I wonder about the message you are sending your child.  Life is full of perceived injustices.  Trust me.  I know. Friday marks the three year anniversary of Dave’s death.  What are you teaching your child about dealing with disappointment?  

As far as the comment about it being nice that we have money to give away?  This is not our money.  Some of it is, but most of it has been donated by incredibly generous people who want to honor Dave’s memory and support Hayfield because they know how much Dave loved his school community.

If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me here, through Facebook or to my email.  And please sign your name.




^^If that title didn’t get you to read further, then I am not sure what will!

As we rapidly approach the three year mark since Dave died, this has been the topic about which people seem interested.  In fact, I had a lunch with a dear, sweet friend this week, and she gently asked if I was dating anyone.  She also quickly added that if it was not appropriate to ask that she was sorry.  I didn’t mind her asking at all.   I know that she asked because she cares about me and wants me to be happy.

The truth is that I have thought about it.  The door to my heart is ever so slightly ajar. But the reality is that dating, if memory serves, takes time and effort.  For now my time and energy are spoken for and I am not sure when that will change.  I imagine at some point down the road I will want to make room in my life to give the opportunity some space but for now I am okay with being exactly where I am.



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Kid to Kid Care Packages

I mentioned a month or so ago that Parker was doing a passion project for school.  This has been a school year long endeavor.  Each student picks a topic they are passionate about and comes up with a project centered around that topic.   Parker decided to create care packages for kids who have a parent with cancer.  She has read a different book each quarter written about kids coping with their parent’s cancer and death.  There is a surprising shortage of books that are actually age appropriate for her.  Most are for much younger or much older kids.  Last quarter she tackled the fundraising and this nine weeks she is dealing with the packaging and distribution.

Her first batch is ready to go.  They will be distributed by Dave’s oncologist at his large cancer center nearby.  She raised enough funds for several more batches so we will be calling in the reinforcements to help box those up!

Love the school for having the kids stretch their thinking in this way.  Love this kiddo for all of her hard work in making it happen.





Gazing Back, Looking Forward

It’s raining outside, and I am home doing some things around the house.  Andrea Bocelli is singing in the background so I think the scene is pretty ripe for reflection and introspection.

On Saturday, Sam graduates from CNU.  I believe that she has had a very successful four years – academically, socially, and through her volunteer work.  I couldn’t be prouder. As I think about her next steps, I can’t help but think of where she has been.

Sam was due on April 17th but was born 15 days later.  Even then it wasn’t her idea but rather the intervention of my medical team.  We have always joked that even before day one she did things in her own time.  She arrived with that independent spirit.  Sam had her first diagnosed break at just short of ten months old, but it would take several more to diagnosis the OI and several decades to solidify the type (V).

Sam’s strong spirit has served her well so far.  She has dealt with probably close to 30 broken bones at this point.  She has persevered before, during, and after Dave’s death.  She has also managed the regular trials and tribulations that come with just growing up.  I don’t know anyone who could manage all that she has as well as she has.

Saturday marks a big milestone.  The end of her undergraduate studies and the beginning of what is to come.  Her next steps didn’t exactly shake out how she had imagined but not much in life does.  She will start her new job Monday, and I am confident that she will continue to learn and grow as this job serves as the first step towards her future.  I can’t wait to watch her story unfold.

To my smart, beautiful, funny, compassionate, hard-working first born child – I feel very lucky to be your mom and so fortunate to also be your friend.




Only Parenting


Parker and I have been having a relaxing stay cation this Spring Break.  We’ve explored some local areas, done the hair and nails things, and even taken in a show at the Kennedy Center.  On the less fun front, we’ve weeded and mowed and cleaned and organized.  And because a solo festival and a couple of auditions are on the horizon, Parker has had several oboe lessons.  It’s been fun spending time with my youngest, but it has been hard at times to be home.  I think that is why we have done so much traveling over the last almost three years.  Being away from home means not getting caught up in memories.  There really isn’t anything that we do near home that wasn’t done before with Dave – well, maybe the hair and nails.

One of my biggest challenges mentally and emotionally is not allowing myself to go too deep down the rabbit hole of the past.  There is a feeling that I get in the pit of my stomach when we are heading somewhere we’ve been before as a family.  I have yet to get to the stage where I can just look back on the time fondly.  There is always a tinge of melancholy, and I have to fight to keep it in check.  It takes acknowledgement and effort.

By far my biggest challenge in this only parent life is when something is going on with one of the kids.  I’ve talked about how I wish I could tell Dave the great things, but I also miss having another pair of shoulders to bear the load.  Sam put all of her hopes into one graduate school program.  It was an incredible opportunity and seemed within reach.  In the end though, the opportunity was offered to another.  She has been frustrated and sad and anxious and stressed.  We’ve talked.  I’ve listened.  I’ve tried to offer support and advice, but it can be tiring.  I wish there was someone else to take a turn.  I wish that I could turn to Dave and talk to him about how sad and disappointed I am for her.  I wouldn’t trade my relationship with Sam for anything in the world.  I love that she knows that she can always come to me and share anything with me.  And I know Dave would have offered other much needed words of support and wisdom and understanding to both of us.

I keep telling Sam that I think that things happen for a reason and that you can’t always see it in the moment but usually can once you get to where you are supposed to be.  I’m holding onto that hope for both of us.



It’s Been a While

I came back to this place to respond to a message that I received.   I could feel this person’s heartbreak and felt that I had to say something.

It’s been a while since I last posted.  I guess that means that life has become so ordinary that I haven’t had much to say, but since I was here, I thought I’d say hello.  When last we met up, the kids and I were about to navigate Christmas.  After an uneventful, lovely Christmas, we hopped on a plane and had an amazing trip to England.  Driving on the wrong side of the road was equally parts victory and nerve wracking.  We spent time catching up with old friends and being tourists.  It was such an amazing trip with no “I wish we had…” or “I wish we hadn’t..”

January found us all back at our respective schools.  A highlight of the month was when Parker and I joined thousands and thousands of our closest friends at the women’s march in DC.  It was absolutely incredible, peaceful and inspiring.

We spent much of February praying for snow but sadly it wasn’t to be.  So, when Sam and Grant were home for their spring breaks, we headed to Florida and basked in the sun for 5 days.  We rested, read, ate seafood, and enjoyed the sun on our faces and the sand on our toes.

I think that’s pretty much it.  We have adapted to a life that is now mostly normal.  Memories about Dave still punctuate many conversations.  And we still miss him.   I miss him most when I have something I want to share with him.  Like Grant’s doing great at school or Sam made dean’s list again or Parker is a starting to work with a third oboe teacher.  I know he would have loved to hear that the Gamecocks are in the final four this year.

Oh and this.  Parker’s passion project for school.



Last Christmas

The last time we spent Christmas at home we spent it as a family of five.  We had no idea, of course, that it would be our last one together.  I’m not sure we would have done anything much differently.  We cut down our tree and visited with Santa and kept to our usual traditions.

This will be our first Christmas at home as a family of four.  The last two years we have headed out of town as soon as school let out and celebrated Christmas by waking up at the beach or in Disney World.  I thought I was creating new traditions for the kids, but in reality, I think I was the one who wanted to escape from it all.  We bought an artificial tree.  We bought a  lot of new decorations so that we didn’t have to dive too deep into the memory laden old ones.  We went away so that we didn’t have to wake up at home navigating the present unwrapping and Christmas breakfast without our biggest of elves.

Last year when we woke up Christmas morning to giraffes roaming outside of our window the kids decided that they would like to be home for this Christmas.  I have tried to honor their needs and wants first and foremost throughout this process and so we will be waking up here Christmas morning.

But it is hard.

I have shopped.  Alone.  Dave and I would always have a date night/dinner out/shop for the kids evening.

I have signed things “From: Mom”.

I have cried in the car thinking about Christmases past.  Dave was such a considerate gift giver, enthusiastic Christmas specials watcher, and spirited eggnog drinking decorator.

I have put off buying stocking stuffers.  I remember one year when Dave wasn’t feeling particularly well that as he was filling my stocking he looked around and was searching through bags.  He had forgotten to pick up the rest of the items on his list but only realized it when it was much too late.  I reassured.  I didn’t care.

I am trying to imagine Christmas morning.  Dave and I would head downstairs first torturing the kids while we lit the tree and started the coffee and got the camera ready.  After all the gift giving Dave would make us all an enormous breakfast.

We will manage.  But we will be missing him.

I think that might be subconsciously why I waited so long to plan our post-Christmas trip. So that during the most Christmas-y days I would have something else on which to focus.  Some days it works better than others.

We will manage.  And we will find the laughter.  And we will be missing him.




Giving Tuesday

I put my money where my mouth (or at least my keyboard) is and made donations to both organizations today.  I will do another round of giving at the end of the year.  No matter where you contribute, support something that feeds your spirit.  If you can’t give money, give time.  It feels great.  I promise.



Now that you have had your fill of turkey and found all kinds of great deals, I would like to do my yearly donations pitch. Many of you make donations on Giving Tuesday or do year end contributions. Here are 2 places worthy of consideration.

David S Tremaine Memorial Scholarship – in 2 years we have been able to award 11 renewable scholarships with plans to give out more in the spring. Donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE so it really is a win-win. Donations can be made through
You will be mailed a receipt for your taxes and will also have my undying gratitude when they email me and tell me you donated!

Camp Kesem William and Mary – you have already seen and heard about this incredible camp and what it has done for Parker. There are chapters all across the country and I know all of them would appreciate your support. Again, all donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

Thanks in advance for considering these very worthy causes when making your donations this year! xo

#campkesem_wm #collegeaccessfairfax #givingtuesday


Today, as every day, I am thankful for the three best people I know.  They just happen to be my children.  They are so much fun to be around.  Want to be inspired?  Spend some time talking to any one of them.  They are not just doing okay in our post-Dave world, they are kicking ass.

I have always given so much credit to Dave for how well they have navigated life since June 2014.  He provided for us financially so that we have a roof over our head and food on the table, tuition can be paid and trips can be taken.  That peace of mind has been a blessing many times over.  He provided for us emotionally especially in the last few weeks before he died.  I believe that we all carry his words letting us know that we would be okay and to take things one step at a time close to our hearts.  I will always be thankful for the man and father that he was and how completely selfless he was during those last days so that his energy could be spent wrapping us in a Dave sized security blanket to last us a lifetime.

I also want to give so much credit to Sam, Grant, and Parker.  They could have fallen into a pit of self-pity.  It would have been understandable.  It certainly has been tempting a time or two for me.  But they didn’t, and I didn’t.  Together we have been able to be strong when one wasn’t.  We have in pairs and as a group bolstered each other through the saddest of times.  We laugh.  We cry.  We always find a way to laugh again.  I know every parent thinks they are the luckiest, but I happen to know for fact, that I hold that title.

Happy Thanksgiving.




Happy Birthday, Babe.


Happy Birthday, Babe.  How I wish you were here.  This picture cracks me up.  I don’t forget how tall you were.  This just illustrates it perfectly – me on tip toe and you bending at the knee and there is still a pretty big difference between us.  I miss tucking under your arm for a hug.

So much has happened since you have been gone.  Good things like honor rolls and dean’s lists, volunteering and other kid milestones.  There have been some not so great things too.  You would be apoplectic about the election results, but you wouldn’t have been surprised.  We disagreed about the make up and wants of this country, but it turns out you were right.  Completely.

I miss our inside jokes, the ridiculous nicknames, Saturday morning breakfast and sharing the newspaper.  I miss you.  Love you always.