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Hold on loosely, but don't let go

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Every year, for a decade or more, my daughter and I have attended a holiday-themed lighting ceremony downtown. Families gather on the appointed corner to hear the mayor say a few words. Carols are sung. Then there is a countdown that ends with the mayor flipping the switch that lights up all the trees in the vicinity. The kid and I drink hot cocoa, browse the shops, pet a shop cat at the floral place, and try on weird hats at the antique store.

I asked her if she wanted to go this year and she said yes. The lighting ceremony was scheduled for a Friday and I looked forward to it all week. I even had it on my work calendar so that I could make sure we got down there in time to catch the mayor's switch-flipping. On Friday afternoon, she came home from school and announced that she was going ice skating that evening. I couldn't tell if she had forgotten that we had plans or if she just didn't want to go. When I reminded her, she asked, "Would you be mad if I go ice skati…

Frosh!

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Her bedroom door is closed, but I can hear every word she's belting out. "Good morning Baltimoooore!" she sings. My bias is as certain as the rotation of the earth, but I believe wholeheartedly in her talent. I never get tired of hearing my daughter's voice. Now she's moved on to another show tune. "Come on, babe, why don't we paint the town  . . . " 
She's trying out for the musical Chicago at school in a couple of weeks. She's hoping for a lead role, of course, but I've reminded her that the more mature roles may go to upperclassmen. But secretly I believe she can do anything. 
Our love of Broadway is one of our shared interests. We're going to Hamilton next weekend. We're unsure of how we'll keep ourselves from singing along, but we're beyond excited. Music is always a connector for us. She tolerates my old-school music and has memorized the lyrics for hundreds of New Wave songs. My heart swells with a weird sort of p…

Foster failure? Nope. Let me tell you why.

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I recently read an article called An Open Letter to People Who Tell Me to Adopt My Foster Dogs. It echoed many of my own thoughts, but not exactly. The writer indicated that it's hurtful to her when people suggest that she adopt her foster dogs. I don't find it hurtful, but I do find it frustrating. I wanted to share my own thoughts on the topic.

It's common for foster families to adopt at least one of their foster animals over time. It's sometimes referred to as a "foster failure." There is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes you develop a bond and, particularly for new foster volunteers, it can be unbearably hard to sever that connection.

A few reasons why I don't adopt my foster dogs:
There is a two-dog limit in my city and I already have two dogs. Sure, I could apply for a variance but I don't want to.I don't have a terribly large house. It's big enough to accommodate a third dog on a fostering basis, but not permanently.The yard is fenced but…

Hey, Anita

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I've been trying to remember where we first met. I think it was at a local dog training school, back in 1998 or 1999. My Boxer Lucy was still a youngster - an unruly one at that. You were just getting a German Shepherd rescue off the ground. I was learning about rescues and started warming up to the idea of fostering a dog. I told you I'd foster a German Shepherd sometime.

Instead of fostering a Shepherd back then, I got involved in rescue myself - Boxer rescue. For the next 15 years, we ran into each other pretty regularly - at fundraisers and other events. Rotating in similar, if not the same, circles. I even ran into you at the grocery store a few times. I was more than a little surprised when you announced that you'd adopted a vegetarian diet (after some urging from your cousin). We chatted about veggie burgers and such.

Once my long tenure on the board for Boxer rescue ended, I thought it was about time I honored that long-ago promise to foster a Shepherd. I contacted…

Oh Bursa, My Bursa

After about 25 years of slowly worsening chronic pain in my hips, I finally made a push for a formal diagnosis. I've been complaining to doctors about my hip pain ever since I can remember. Various theories have been offered to me. When I was in my 20s, a physician's assistant postulated that there was too much laxity in the ligaments that hold my hips together. That actually seemed plausible.

When I told my primary care physician that my hip pain was getting worse last year, she said, "Okay, but did you schedule your mammogram?" The hip pain has been noted in my file by various doctors over the years, but that was about it. Sometimes I wondered if doctors were ignoring me because of the opiate crisis. Maybe they assumed I was bitching so that I could get some narcotics. What I actually want is: sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep. I've invested in expensive mattress toppers and have done everything I can think of to keep myself asleep for more than a couple hours at a tim…

On Letting Go Too Soon

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I come from an affectionate, demonstrative family. We said "I love you" freely - and still do. It is no small blessing to know, always, that you are loved. While I am sure that my husband's parents loved him, he never heard those words. Ever. It took a while, but his heart is open now. Even a little mushy sometimes. Plus, he's a great dad.

He hates it when I tell this story, but it's one of my favorites. When our daughter was three months old, we took her to the state fair. We had a great day and she looked so cute in her hat and sunglasses. As I was pushing her stroller up a hill on our way out at the end of the day, I asked my husband, "Have you ever told her that you love her?"

With a straight face, he replied, "I don't know her that well yet."

He wasn't making a joke - that's just how is brain works. Despite that goofy response, he's thoroughly devoted to her. He overcame the lack of affection in his own upbringing and rou…

ADHD (Sub-title: Parenting is Hard, Y'all)

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The funny thing about being the mom of an only child is that for every new challenge that comes along, I'm technically still a first-time mom - even though my child is a teenager. While my daughter does have biological half-siblings (through her birthmom), she is my only child. I can't compare her behavior/illnesses/whatever to my other children, because they do not exist. This sometimes leaves me wondering if I'm making the right call when decisions must be made (and my husband, as you might guess, is not a decision maker).

If you had asked me a decade ago, I might have been one of those people who said, "Geez, kids are over-medicated. Just let them be kids." Now I've been forced to re-think my uninformed stance. My child has been diagnosed with ADHD - Inattentive Type.

Since my daughter started school back in 2009, I've made jokes about how she talks too much. I've heard words like chatty, distracted, talkative, etc. from teachers at every parent-te…