Saga of the squirrel

So this isn’t a parenting post but a funny thing happened to me today.

My mom recently gifted me a one of kind taxidermy Christmas squirrel – long story -look up The Creeper Gallery in New Hope Pa for explanation.

I went out today to find a glass display house for my squirrel

Of course I had to take her with me because she is fat and won’t fit in an average box

I went into the store and found a case

I paid for the glass box and little fairy lights and started to walk out of the store

Immediately I was stopped by a clerk as according to them – I hadn’t paid for my squirrel

I said (deadpan and slightly irritated)- I highly doubt you have a musical, animatronic, taxidermied, dead Christmas squirrel in stock

Needless to say – they let me leave without further incident #deadthings #christmastaxidermy #squirreltheft

Open blinded eyes and warm empty hearts

“And I could be sitting on the sidelines, in blissful ignorance of the brokenness that surrounds me, enjoying the whole-ness of a sweet and sheltered life. Missing out on the beauty of breaking off pieces of my heart and my life to make another whole” – Foster the Family Blog

I found this statement today while researching blogs about foster care to try and find yet another way to send word that kids need help and homes – i found a blog called Foster the Family – and this statement was in one of the blogs and it is exactly why i do what i do – because i don’t want to miss out on becoming a part of someone else’s story because it scares me. I don’t want to miss out on becoming a safe place because I was afraid and most of all – i don’t want to turn a blind eye when I could help.

Here is the reality – we need foster parents – i could spin this any way and backwards to paint a pretty picture of “saving a child” – BUT it is not pretty and it hurts and it is scary and it is wonderful and amazing and filled with pure joy and all that you think it will be. It is also needed. Fundamentally needed. I am not tasked with saving children – i am tasked with keeping them safe. Maybe you are too! Just let me know and I can help you find the answers to how you can help too!


Just a mama duck

I don’t use the term foster parent with the little ducklings. I am just Dusty. I am here to keep them safe while all the rest of the grownups get it together and figure things out.

I actually find this works. I am not their parent. It helps lessen the confusion with the littles.

To these ducklings – Simon is just Simon and Our boys – they are just the brothers. Our daughter is some mythical being whispered about 😂 (they seriously can’t figure out how she is our kid and not living here so we have them convinced she is magic) and my oldest – he is the oldest and often spoken about in passing as the person who slept on the couch during the “carnival” (Via Colori)

The people in my world – they are cool according to them 😂

However if you ask my oldest current duckling – Simon and I are the best foster parents she ever had. I mean we are the only ones she has had so there is not a lot to measure by but I will take it.

I didn’t teach her this word or the concept – kids talk I guess at school – I explained to her that she is not just my foster kid – she is one of my ducklings and that is the end of that.

Duckling is an easy moniker – and when people call me “mom” around them – I am quick to correct and say “nope just Dusty” – they always giggle and say “quack” 😂

It helps remind people that they are more than foster kids – they are so so much more.

Today the middle duckling brought home a drawing and said I could keep it forever so I never forgot her

Seriously kid 😂😂😂😂

#thisisfostercare 🐥🐥🐥


I call my kiddos ducklings. It is an easy moniker

This morning one of them drew me a surprise picture and it took everything I had in me not to cry

It is crumbled because she rolled it up to surprise me

This crumbled photo is a reminder of why I do this. I mean come on – look at my muscles lol

Ray ray and the awful day

Ray ray the teddy bear is one of my guests. He belongs to the middle duckling. He is a very very matted, old and obviously loved teddy bear, he holds an esteemed place in our house.

Today was an absolute dumpster fire of a day. The kind when you fight the good fight and it all goes to absolute sh*t no matter how well you fight. No matter how vested you are in the fight, you still lose. In losing, the kids you fought for also lose and you can’t come back from that in the same way you were before.

That kind of day. I have cried since yesterday. Tears of happiness, than absolute heartbreak, turning to anger and quiet frustration. (Huge thanks to friends who fought with me and who kept me grounded. To the hugs that comforted and the ears that listened to my rants, it was just that kind of day)

The kind of day that makes you want to give up. To say I can’t keep fighting this jacked up system. It is too broken, too corrupt, too much unacceptable BS. Kids are caught in that crossfire. Kids who have been hurt. Kids who have trauma. Kids who need every single person fighting for them.

It is razor thin line. I think I mentioned that foster care will break your heart. Today mine shattered.

I tried to hide my day from the ducklings. I tried to make sure they had no idea. They need my strength. But it is plainly obvious just looking at my face. They were cute as always. They were just my ducklings.

But I am sad. It shows. So I told them that I was having a sad sad day. That sometimes just being sad is ok. As long as we don’t hurt others or ourselves with our sadness. They all explained their sad day too. Bless them 😂

Their sad day included a boy who pinched them, a rip in pants and a sticker that wouldn’t stick. They told me it was going to be ok. They also told me that I was the best person. I told them that they needed to meet more people 😂

That was dinner time. We went to training tonight and they played. We came home and I tucked them into bed. My duckling offered me ray ray to help my sad day not be so sad. I literally almost lost it right there.

I quietly thanked her and made my escape as quickly as possible. My boys are sad and angry and my husband has stated he is done. He is so so angry and very hurt right now. Rightfully so. He stepped way out of his comfort zone only to be smacked around, his emotions tossed to the side. Same with my boys. Same with me.

He will very angrily and grudgingly see his way through this placement and no more after that. He won’t deal with the powers that be at all. It is all on me. He would take a 100 kids but he won’t deal with the system after today. What was left of my heart turned to dust. Today was just that kind of day.

Tomorrow we will start picking up the pieces and putting it all back together again. It won’t be the same. When you break a mirror, you never get the same image. The damage is forever.

I can’t discuss what happened because it is confidential. I can say it was awful. It showed me a side of things that I can’t process. It also showed me that there are still people willing to fight the good fight. There are still kids to help. There is still so much more that can be done.

I saw people fight the good fight today. I also saw some really awful complacency. And in the end, a duckling that has known me all of six weeks offered me her most precious possession. Ray ray.

And for her and her sisters, we won’t be complacent. I haven’t figured out the next steps for my family. I have figured out that I need ray ray as much as ray ray needs us right now. Safe places to land are vital for kids in care. We are a safe place for them and for now, that will have to be enough


Crying through another part of the story

After a day filled with heartbreak and anger (not duckling related), I am sitting in my living room.

Duckling #1 is curled up with my one son

Duckling #2 is discussing stinky feet and stinky socks with my husband

Duckling #3 is laying on the floor at my other kid’s feet singing to Mr Nubs the rescue cat

They are all happy

Sometimes it is what it is and you can’t change the decisions that other people make. You can’t cure all the hurt or help all the kids.

Sometimes it is just about what is in your bubble and even though it is not all of the kids that need a safe place to land – these three remind me that it is one day at a time.

Sometimes you just have to swallow the anger and the hurt and move on.

You won’t forget the hurt. The heartbreak will linger. But for tonight – the ducklings and my teens need me to keep it together because they need a safe place.

I will fight for foster kids. I will beg for foster parents. I will plead for support to help the above. I will also cry tonight for the ones that the system failed. Those the system let go too soon. The ones they said would be ok. The ones that they ignored.

I will hate every minute of this because we have to do better. It is never enough.

Hopefully this new administration gets their collective crap together and fixes the cracks that constantly open because kids are failing through those cracks. It is no longer ok.

I am a foster parent. I also work to find new foster parents and to educate everyone I know on the trauma associated with adverse childhood experiences. To raise money for foster kids and parents. To bring a community together to stand up for these kids.

You don’t have listen. I hope you will. I hope you will consider breaking your own heart a thousand times over to help these kids.

I promise – the hugs at the end of the day and giggles and even the snark of teenagers is worth every tear.

So tonight, there won’t be a cute post followed with a wine glass. I am out of wine dammit and I can’t go get any 😂 I have ducklings to tuck in

But I will cry and be really really angry and that is just another part of the story. The ugly part. That part we don’t talk about.

And tomorrow will be another day.


Vetting homes

Controversial post right here – if children are placed into a foster home which has jumped through hoops to prove they are safe to place kids in, I personally believe removing them from that foster home to place into the care of a random relative without the same hoops could very well prove to be dangerous and even more traumatic.

I am not saying all relative or kin placements are bad. In fact, I am all for kids staying with family.

But too often anymore kids are being placed with random people who are not properly screened and it is turning out to be very bad.

On the opposite side, relatives aren’t getting enough support to handle kids who have been through trauma either

I don’t believe that enough is done to prove the safety and well being of kids who have been through trauma in some scenarios

Shame on those who take the easy way out or cut safety corners to reduce caseloads or costs or whatever the reasoning is

It, in the end, is not helping

We can do better
We have to do better

Kentucky – you can do better