The Ersatz Mother

I could be writing about the glorious Saturday I spent in the garden, where transplanted broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and Swiss chard and cut up more sod to lay down weed paper. I could be writing about the quality time my husband and I had when he was so thoroughly and utterly exhausted but wanted to play board games and I totally slayed at Agricola. I could be writing about my hopeful trepidation about receiving a new package of bees this afternoon. Or about how my sewing machine still isn’t working properly. Or about the latest farming book I finished. Or about the rich blue roving I’m spinning into yarn with increasing uniformity.

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The S-Talk: Sugar, Teenagers, and Emotional Eating

I have many a time reached for something sweet when I felt overwhelming waves of emotion. I’m significantly better about not reaching for a Reese’s peanut butter cups or a two-serving brownie frosted with caramel and chocolate because something has distressed me or I don’t feel good. It hasn’t been easy to overcome a lifetime of emotional eating, but I’ve made some darn good progress. Now, as a foster parent, I’m trying to teach my kiddos some of what I’ve learned.

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Confession Time: Cakes, Cakes, and More Cakes

I try pretty hard to be healthy on a regular basis. I eat a fairly reasonable amount of sweets. Sure, I have fibromyalgia, but I also exercise just about daily. I floss. I brush my teeth twice a day. I once gave an impromptu lecture on how to determine which types of yogurts were healthiest to my foster kiddos who preferred yogurts that were essentially the equivalent of almost eating a snickers for breakfast. I know. I’m a killjoy.

I also love cakes.

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Mom’s Carrot Pie

My mom moved to South Carolina just under a year ago, and I miss her for many reasons. The first Super Bowl party without my family was a little rough because I have to start new traditions after losing an old one. My husband was a little bummed to miss out on the tradition of drinking Scotch with my stepdad while watching the big game. Scotch is what has made watching the football game tolerable for my husband. I miss the crazy amounts of food my mom has always made for the game.

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Teaching a Teenager How to Grocery Shop

One of my foster kiddos is turning 18 in May. She’s nearly an adult, and we’re trying to ensure that we’re helping her acquire some valuable life skills while she’s living with us. We’re all hoping that she’ll be reintegrated with her family before she turns 18, but we can still teach her fundamental life skills… like planning for a week’s worth of groceries and appreciating the cost of those groceries.

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Two Weeks of Teenagers

Teenagers are hard to place in the foster-care system. We always assumed we’d get teenagers because, well, we’re open to having teenagers. My husband works with teenagers, and I used to work with teenagers. We understand their dramas and their this-moment-is-everything attitude. I’ve had teenagers be incredibly mad at me. So has my husband. We’ve both had teenagers cry with us about their struggles. We’ve shared in their exuberances. We genuinely and truly like teenagers.

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The Marauding Dog That Cancelled a Walk and Scheduled a Massage

I quit walking my dog Alke over two years ago because I could not get him to stop pulling, which was excruciating on my arms and on my lower back. The flare in my lower back pain is what ultimately precipitated my fibromyalgia (thanks, nerves!), and I just could not manage walking him as I also tried to manage my pain. Now that I’ve reached what is hopefully my therapeutic level of medications and work/life accommodations, I’ve begun trying to walk him regularly again.

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