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.



Why I Vote…

I voted today.  I didn’t “hold my nose and vote” or “pick the lesser of two evils”.  I certainly didn’t cast my precious vote for a candidate who realistically has no chance of winning this election.  My kids deserve better than that.

I respected the system that we have and considered the two candidates that the people have chosen to represent our two parties.  I voted for the candidate whose ideas and plans more closely align to what I think is important.  I voted for the candidate I trust to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court with the possibility of more to come.  I voted because I care about my kids’ futures.  They deserve the best.

My kids have had a challenging time, though less difficult than some but more so than many.  They face their future without their dad.  I want everything in the world for them especially a life as free from worry and full of joy as possible. I read something this week that really hit home for me.  It was written by a woman who has been widowed for some time.

“I wish you knew how badly I will always hurt for our kids.  It never goes away; it’s a forever part of who I am.” One Fit Widow

So for my part, I try to provide them with experiences and opportunities to enrich their lives.  I try to support them in all that they do.  I pray that their lives will be full and rich.  And I vote.