Monday, December 31, 2007

Washington D.C.

Much fun was had by all, aside from the 15 hour drive getting down there. For more pictures of our trip click here.

And now, after the 9 hour (much better!) trip home yesterday, we are gearing up for a New Year's Eve celebration here tonight with some fun local families.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Signing off...

We are headed to the Nation's capital tomorrow to play hard for a few days with Uncle Jim and Aunt Chris. I don't know if the kids were more excited for Christmas, or for this trip, as their Aunt and Uncle are some of there absolute favorite playmates. We'll be back in Fitzville before New Years with lots of fun stories and pictures I'm sure.

Off to Australia...

Not long ago, Charlie spent the night at a close friend's house. Afterwards, the mom told me that the boys had some post-graduation plans already. Big plans. They decided that when they turn 18, after they graduate, they are going on a big trip together. A great big adventure. They will travel to New Zealand, Africa, Australia....and... New Jersey! I have no idea how New Jersey made it's way into that line up, but these boys are excited about it!

Ever since making these plans, Charlie has become fairly obsessed with Australia. It might have something to do with one of his favorite summer camp counselors being Australian. It might be because of the really cool animals there. Whatever it is, Charlie has become quite the expert on the country and is glad to share all the little interesting facts he knows with anyone he meets. Anyone. Even the checker at the grocery store.

So it wasn't a huge surprise that Charlie's only request from Santa this year was an Australian bush hat. (And maybe a didgeridoo, but that's another story). He wanted this bush hat badly. Desperately. And he talked about it and wished about it constantly. Every. Single. Day. His last words before dropping off to sleep last night were "I hope, hope, hope Santa brings me an Australian bush hat!"

There are absolutely no words to describe the look on this boy's face this morning when he opened that hat. Absolutely priceless. Oh, to be 7 again.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two Years ago...

Two years ago today, I let the kids stay up as we all waited anxiously. Two years ago today, Fitz sat in the airport at 11pm and watched a very sick little boy walk off the plane... cold, tired, hungry, and with a smile that lit up all of Boston.

We had never laid eyes on Pipo before, except for a few old pictures. It's amazing today to look back and see how bloated and sick he was. He was admitted to the hospital right away, where he and I stayed for a week. But not having seen him before, we were just mesmerized by that gorgeous smile. And we still are.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Getting it...

At the end of the summer. I set up a time to meet with Pipo's 4th grade teacher. She knows our family, as she had Kaleigh before, but I wanted to give her as much background as I could on Pipo. I spent nearly an hour telling her his history, and how things had gone so far school-wise. Throughout the conversation she kept commenting on how 'lucky' he is to have ended up in our family. I just kept quietly repeating that we are the lucky ones, that I can't even explain how much he has added to our lives. She smiled and nodded, but it was obvious she didn't really understand what I meant.

At our recent parent conference, I sat down with this teacher and got my first look at Pipo's 4th grade report card for the term. But she didn't start out about his grades, or about any academics at all. She started out with "I was wrong... I get it now... I so totally get it." She was almost teary as she told me how she couldn't imagine what I was talking about back in the fall, when I was saying 'we' were the lucky ones, but that now that she had spent these months with Pipo, she knew exactly what I had meant. She went on to tell me stories about how much my son has added to the class, the inspiration and enthusiasm he brings to each and every student there, and to herself as well. She talked about a recent field trip where Pipo was just bursting with excitement at every new thing, and how she realized they truly were new things to him, and he genuinely appreciated it all. So many times teachers take these kids on field trips and they get that 'been there done that' attitude. American kids can take so much for granted, but the class seeing everything fresh through Pipo's eyes was a whole new experience for this teacher. And she sees this every day in her class... she 'gets' it now.

Hands down, the best parent conference I have ever attended.

*PS... and mom brag here... my son, who was struggling with basic phonics last year, made honor roll this term doing the regular 4th grade curriculum... Go Pipo!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Special Day

On this day, 2 years ago, we received the news that Pipo was very sick, and the doctors in Haiti didn't know if he would make it the 2 more months or so it would take to get his passport. After making phone calls to every public official I thought could help us, I did the only other thing I could. I prayed. I drove over to our old church, where I knew the morning Mass was a little later, and where the priest is an old friend. On the way there, I had been saying the Hail Mary over and over, as I thought if anyone would know what I was going through it would be Mary. I slipped into the back of the church unnoticed by the priest and sat down silently. I was overwhelmed when he announced that it was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I had not been paying attention to the calendar, and here it was a day for Mary. I was overwhelmed a second time, and brought to tears when the priest began his sermon, and spoke of adoption... how we are all God's adopted children, how Mary never hesitated at God's word, and Joseph quietly became Jesus' adoptive father. This priest knew our situation, but had not seen me in the church. God was truly speaking through him to me. The real tears came the next day though when I received an email saying that Pipo had a passport and would be on a plane to America very soon.

So today, as I take Charlie to church for his First Penance, I will say thanks once more to Mary, who heard my cries as a mother and listened... as a mother herself.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


... in the car on the way home today... (Emma age 6)

"Oh, I get it "HAIL Mary"... like hail... like snow... because Jesus was born on Christmas... in the winter!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Birthday Tommy!

Forgive me while I sit and reminisce... my baby is 5 today!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Question of the day...

(posed by Tommy... who is 4 for another 24 hours.)

"Do aliens die if they fall out of space?"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mis-heard Christmas Carols in Fitzville

"Deck the hall with balls of jelly!"

"Chipmunks roasting on an open fire..."

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... A pot and a chia pet tree"

*Note... all of these have been brought to you by Charlie, who we believe was definitely an elf in a former life.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Sometimes, being with 40 some relatives for a holiday can remind you of the many relatives you left behind in another country, far away.

Sometimes, having a big feast with all the food you can imagine might remind you of days when you had no food at all and went to bed hungry.

Sometimes, playing out back with your brother can remind you of another brother who you haven't seen in 2 years.

Sometimes, going swimming in an indoor pool with all your cousins can remind you that you are still just learning to swim, as you had never been in water in your life until you were 9 years old.

Sometimes, going to the movies to see a movie where one of the main character dies reminds you of watching your own parents die not so very long ago.

And sometimes, when all of this happens over the course of just a few days, a simple thing like losing a small toy is enough to put you over the edge and send you in tears up to your room where you stay there silent, all day without eating.

Sometimes, it's easy to think this happy healthy child running around with his new family is 'fixed'. But sometimes we need a reminder that the pain and anger is still there. Sometimes, a build up like this helps to get some of that pain and anger out, and to talk about the past, which will always be a huge part of your life. Sometimes you need to work through the pain to talk about and remember those people you have left behind, to make them real again, and remember they will always be a part of who you are.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


... is what it's all about

Thanksgiving 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Been slow to update the blog here, with all the craziness of 7 kids and a holiday approaching. But I will take a few minutes this morning to be thankful. I am incredibly thankful for my kids. The snowman above was created in the backyard yesterday... a group effort. The plan yesterday was to get the house cleaned up and have everyone pack right after school so that we wouldn't have as much to do today, and we could take off early. But who could know it would be the first real snow of the season. And who can deny kids that first snow. So after a frantic few minutes digging out old mittens and hats, the kids were outside until it was dark out. Even with my schedule thrown off, it's hard to be mad with all the screaming and laughing and pure togetherness that snow brought.

So packing was done later than usual, and this morning there was a trail of children marching down the stairs with backpacks and sleeping bags and pillow, and even more happy laughter anticipating a few days with cousins. By 6:45am, there was a full blown, full house Star Wars battle going on complete with light sabers. By 7:05am we were in the car headed to school with Black Horse and the Cherry Tree blasting and all 7 kids singing along loudly, with more laughter.

I will be doing all the cleaning and packing of the car myself while they are at school... but no complaints here. I am thankful. Thankful for my kids. Thankful for laughter. Thankful for pure joy on a dark, damp morning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

8 Random things about me...

1.) Despite all these instruments hanging on the wall, I am musically illiterate. I am married to an awesome musician, and have 7 kids that are picking it up quickly, but sadly, none here in this blood.

2.) My favorite adult author

3.) My favorite kid author

4.) My favorite late-night indulgence

5.) My blogging companion (sitting by the computer)

6.) My favorite material possession... I love this necklace, each kid has the name and birthdate engraved on the back

7.) The color of my is called "feel the energy green"... no joke. I was tired of the dark hallway, and this sure brightened it up!

8.) What I am doing tonight... Tuesday night soccer is the one thing that is all mine, where I can escape the craziness here in Fitzville for a blissful 2 hours


I have been tagged for a meme over at Sandy Cove Trail by a very cool librarian/mom/photographer/poet/friend. I am not so good at these memes, and though I am supposed to tag 8 others, I am not sure I know 8 other bloggers well enough to tag. So if you read my blog and want to participate, leave me a comment so I can go check out your "8 random facts". Mine will be up in a bit... I have been inspired to repeat the photo blog post, so I need to get some pics and upload them. Thanks!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Perfect day

This is the first day I can remember in a very long time that we had absolutely no commitments. No soccer, no church, no birthday parties... a full day to spend as a family. Fitz picked up an old ping pong table the other day, and the kids all spent the morning clearing out part of the basement so they could set it up. For their hard work cleaning, they were promised a trip to the dollar store. I don't remember the last time all 9 of us went shopping together either. At 15, shopping with the family just isn't a cool thing to do, but for today, Kaleigh decided to humor us. After spending 17.5 hours picking out their 'prizes' at the dollar store, and then stopping at K-Mart to pick up ping pong paddles, the kids played all afternoon long without a single argument. Fitz made everyones favorite dinner of chocolate chip banana pancakes and bacon, and we all settled onto the couches in pajamas to watch Indian Jones and eat popcorn. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Reality check

I was laughing with my oldest today about those silly classes offered at some high schools that give “reality” training about parenting. You know the kind… you take home an egg and need to take care of it for a week or so. I think some schools even have baby dolls that cry etc. Kaleigh has grown up with 6 younger siblings. She knows the realities… she has lived it.

So we were thinking we should design our own class… one that teaches the true realities. Common sense, practical knowledge that all parents should know. Like not ever buying toys that make noise. And never allowing a child to eat blue yogurt while sitting on the couch. Don’t give small children Mountain Dew before bedtime. Children under 18 should never be given gum. Especially if they have hair. Or their sister has hair. Never leave your car keys in plain sight, especially if the bathroom door is open and the toilet lid is up. Permanent markers should not be allowed in the house. Or regular markers. Even washable ones. It is possible for a human being to survive for days, weeks, even months at a time on only pasta and peanut butter. When a child is sick, the amount that comes out of them will generally equal several times what went into them. And what comes out of them will invariably land on either furniture, carpeting, or some article of clothing that has either just been purchased or just been dry-cleaned. All children need structure, but don’t ever think you can make plans. Because the minute you make plans, that is when one of your children will get sick. Multitasking is a skill all parents must learn immediately upon having a baby. And I don’t mean being able to text/listen to an ipod/study for an English quiz. I am talking about cooking dinner while feeding a baby, answering the phone, assisting with 4th grade math homework and cleaning chocolate pudding out of a 2 year old’s hair. Simultaneously. And all these things need to be done in the 23.5 minutes you have between soccer practice and the PTO meeting.

So if you are given the famous egg in your high school… break it over your head right before a very important event, and see how long it takes you to clean it out of your hair, change your clothes and still make it to that event on time… because THAT is the reality.

But don't fear... because the terror of a mess at the top there? That turns into this eventually, and then it's all worth it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I have discovered a bonus to having 'hair time' with Pipo... beyond the one on one it gives us. It's also an opportunity to pass on some more of our great American culture. I have always let Pipo watch a movie during that time, and he had always wanted some kind of cartoon movie. Now that he is older, and can understand more, he is open to watching more "grown up" movies.

Sooooo, we just finished the last of the Karate Kid series. Next I think we will start on the Indiana Jones movies. Hey, if I need to put all this time and effort into his hair, I might as well get to relive some of my 80s days, right? All part of the payoff for being a mom!

Monday, November 5, 2007


I am thankful...

to have tied my last soccer cleat of the season

to have dug my last pair of soccer socks out of the laundry bin

to have washed my last soccer uniform (at midnight the night before a game)

to have stood in the cold November rain for the last time

to have driven for the last time to 3 different towns in 3 different directions for 3 games in a row

Until next spring...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

This... a cool shirt!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Big brother

Poor little Tommy has pneumonia, and we came home yesterday with a bag full of meds. He is not too happy about the 2 different inhalers and 2 yucky tasting liquid meds. Ths morning, as I was trying to get him to take everything, Pipo (the king of meds!) came over and sat in front of Tommy, telling him he knew how hard it was, and giving him advice on how to do it the best way. Finally, as Tommy started to get teary, Pipo ran and got his stash of candy and small toys from down-town trick or treating, and told Tommy if he was good he could pick anything.

Pipo knows as much as anyone how hard it is to be sick and have to take meds, but even beyond that, he can be such a great big brother. Tommy has the advantage of getting lots of one on one with him as well, as he is usually tagging along on all Pipo's trips to specialists in Boston. And he just thinks Pipo is the greatest.

There are so many factors you think about when bringing a new child into the family, especially a larger family. So many different interconnected relationships and adjustments to make. I am incredibly thankful for how well all our adjustments have been. Yes, we have our moments when they all bicker like any siblings will, but all 7 of them truly love eachother and have fun together. And what more could a mom want.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Haven't been updating here lately, but life just takes over sometimes. Soccer is winding up (though Kaleigh's team made the playoffs...yeehaw!), the RedSox are winning, and Halloween has taken over everything for a bit.

This is one of those times of the year where I remember how much I really love our neighborhood. The other day, our clan and a bunch of the neighborhood kids all decided to try out their costumes while bikeriding. I regret that I didn't have my camera out, but we had a lot of cars slowing down staring bewilderedly at Superman, Batman, Wolverine, a skeleton and a zombie of sorts, all zipping by on bikes.

And then the 'ghosting' started. If you are unfamiliar with ghosting it is a very cool tradition our neighbors have all been doing for several years. We sneak around at night, leaving treats on eachothers doorsteps, and doing the old "ring and run". The kids wait every year for this to start.

On the Thursday before Halloween, we have 'downtown trick or treating'. They close down Main Street from 4-6, and every kid in town comes down with costumes on. All the businesses are handing out candy, and some even set up little haunted houses inside. Even our fantasic dentist is out there in costume, handing out toothbrushes and floss! Another "can't miss" event.

Today we got home from our usual weekend round of soccer, and found a note on our door to head over to the neighbors. They had made caramel apples, and had everything laid out to carve pumpkins. When all was done, they spent close to an hour jumping in a big leave pile. These same neigbors will be over on Wednesday night for a big chili supper followed by trick or treating.

Fall in New England is fantastic anyway you look at it, but in a small town, it is even moreso.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Singing and reading

A while back, someone gave Pipo the illustrated book of "He's got the whole world". Tonight, Pipo got the book down and told Fitz to get his guitar out. He then started to read/sing, and had Fitz play along with him. A beautiful scene in and of itself, but when you know the background, it is even more beautiful. And not the adoption background per se... the school background. When Pipo first arrived we did not focus on academics. I told the school I only wanted him to learn English and adjust to the structure of school. He had never been to school in his life, and with his health issues and all his other adjustments I just didn't want to overwhelm him. So last fall we started from scratch. And I really mean from scratch. With less than a year of English under his belt, he didn't even know the alphabet. Last year, in 3rd grade, Pipo did very little of the regular curriculum. His ELL teacher and his aid did most of his academics with him, and it was all modified. It was amazing to see the progress he made, but it was still not what his classmates were doing.

So now, a year later, Pipo is doing ALL of the 4th grade work. I received his progress reports this week, and he is getting all As so far. Real As... doing the real work. He is still getting reading tutoring, and vocabulary can still stump him sometimes (the other day he told me he liked my outfit because it 'rhymed'. It was a 'matching' warm-up suit.. but hey...match/rhyme...they are not that far off!) but he is doing the same work as his classmates with very little assistance. This boy has come so incredibly far in such a short time. And he certainly does have the whole world in his hands!


When we were first married, we had a big 100lb lug of a dog, named Guinness of course, because he was black and tan. He looked like a huge, dark wolf, but was about as viscious as a marshmallow. I loved that dog. He was my companion, best friend, protector and partner in this crazy mom thing. Even though he was about the least aggressive dog I had ever seen, he was fiercely protective of the kids. If anyone came in the yard when the kids were out, he would walk in a big circle keeping between the person and the kids. Tail wagging the whole time, but no one was getting near his babies. He slept under the cradle or crib of whoever was the youngest in the house at the moment. When a new baby came home, he would just re-adjust. Once, when we were up in NH and Margaret was only months old, I had placed her in a bassinet up on the dining room table while we unpacked. Guinness came running up to me with one of her onesies. I laughed, and took it fom him. Then he came up with a bottle. I laughed again and put it away. Next it was a pacifier, and this was just too much. As I took it, he started pushing at me with his head, and I finally realized he didn't know where she was. I lowered the bassinett so he could see her, and he walked off, content.

When Guinness died I was heartbroken. I couldn't walk down the pet food aisle for months without my eyes filling up. I told Fitz I never wanted another dog, as he could never be replaced. But in 2003, when Tommy was just months old, Fitz came home one afternoon with a puppy in his hands. He told me "kids need a dog." Maizy was a tiny,scruffy, timid little thing. She was cute, but she was not my dog. I have always been a big dog person, and this little furball would never do. I think for that first year, I didn't even like that dog. She wasn't Guinness and I deeply resented that. When the kids used to be acting crazy and silly, I swear Guinness used to look at me and roll his eyes, completely understanding. When the kids act crazy and silly now, Maizy is right in there with them. On nights Fitz worked, and I was home alone, Guinness would jump and pace at every sound, then come up beside me letting me know he was on guard. Maizy will hide under the couch. While Guinness would be on watch on the side of the road, protecting the kids from the street, Maizy will chase their bikes right in the middle of the road, and then lay down in front of cars.

Almost 5 years later, I can truly say I love this dog. She is not Guinness, but that's not her fault. She puts her paws over her eyes when I am mad at her. She dances on her back legs when Fitz gets home from work. She will wrestle with Charlie for hours. She sees big dogs walking by and jumps in the van to bark at them from safety. She buries every little treat you try and give her. She is goofy and silly and timid, and I can't imagine this family without her.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Saturday morning I am up at 7 showering to try and wake myself up for the day ahead. 4 kids have soccer games, 1 is at a sleepover birthday and one has a party to go to later on in the day. Fitz has a show… camp open house, which we are all expected to attend eventually. After I am dressed, I sort through shinpads and cleats, making sure they are all there, and start getting everyone dressed. By 8:30 all are dressed and fed and I begin the rounds. First game is Emma’s, so I load up the van and head over to the field. It’s picture day as well, so we sort that out and get her over with her team. Once she is settled, I leave Margaret there to watch her game and load everyone else back in the van. We zip over to pick Charlie up at his friend’s house and then off to the other field for EJ’s team pictures. Drop EJ and Pipo off there and run back to catch the end of Emma’s game. Grab Emma and Margaret and run back to the other field to catch EJ’s game. Leave at half time to run Emma to a birthday party. Back to the field to catch the end of EJ’s game and get Margaret over for her team pictures. Watch the first half of Margaret’s game, and then run off to pick Emma up from the party. Catch the end of Margaret’s game and send Pipo over for his team picture. Run to the store to quickly grab some snacks and drinks for starving children. Catch the second half of Pipo’s game and then run over to camp to see the end of Fitz’s show. It’s almost 5 now, and we need to pick up the boys’ friend who is sleeping over. Back to the house to start dinner. (Actually Fitz starts dinner so I can throw laundry in) Feed kids and put on a movie. Run to Target with Kaleigh to find new bedding for her room. Home at 9 and I am wiped.

Sunday morning, I am up and showering again at 7. Get the kids all up, fed and dressed as 5 of them have CCD at 8:15. Zip back to the house to clean up a bit and then over to church to pick up the kids and go to 9:30 mass. It is hospitality Sunday, so we are there until 11:30. Run home and get Charlie changed for soccer, and EJ ready for a birthday party. Fitz runs off to another show he is doing with the rest of the kids. I drop Charlie off with his coach and head 3 towns over for EJs party. Off to the store while he is at the party and pick up a few Halloween costumes, and then some groceries. Pick EJ up and head back to town to pick Charlie up from his game. The we are off to Fitz’s show, and to find the rest of the kids. It’s a massive fundraising event for a good friend of ours who’s son was in a terrible car accident. Run around the festival for a couple of hours, and then pack the kids back up to head home. Drop off sleepover friend and back to the house to start dinner. Cook dinner while running kids through showers and helping other kids with homework. By 8:30 everyone is fed, bathed homework done and in bed. And I am ready for it too.

So in the middle of the evening chaos tonight, while I am at the stove cooking dinner, and yelling up the stairs for Charlie to make sure he washes his hair, and EJ is on one side of me asking how to do his math homework and Margaret is on the other side asking about her science home work, Pipo asks me “Is it fun being a mom?” I just stood there for a minute, thinking to myself, “Is this fun? Is this fun???” And really… it is. It’s exhausting and stressful and sometimes (okay a lot of the time) insane… but it is fun, and I wouldn’t change it.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Columbus day

Most of our kids are happy about Columbus day. They are happy to have a day of nothing, no school, no homework, no soccer... most of our kids.

Charlie is not happy that we celebrate Columbus. He tells me that the Indians were here first, so why should we clebrate the guy who took their land away? Out of the mouths of 7 year olds... makes you think.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Some people are just clueless. Standing outside school, waiting to pick a couple of the younger ones up, a mother I know (vaguely) came up to chat. I couldn't even tell you her name, don't remember the last time I had spoken with her, but I 'know' her from around town. She said something about us wanting to adopt, and I said, very proudly, "Yes, he's right here!" and motioned to Pipo who was standing just a bit in front of me with some friends. She looked surprised and asked all the usual questions about when and how and where from.

So the conversation moves on, and later on, Pipo looks over his shoulder calling "Mom!" to tell me something. This woman taps me on the shoulder and with a look of amazement, says "Oh, that's so cute... he calls you mom?"

WHAT??? I just looked at her for a minute with my jaw hanging open at a loss for words. Finally I looked at her and said, "well I AM his mom, what else would he call me?"

She suddenly needed to attend to one of her kids... go figure. Some people just need to be slapped.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wild ones

Look what surfer boy Charlie learned to do.

And so guess what little sister Emma needed to practice for a solid hour so she could be better. There's something to say for good old fashioned sibling rivalry.

These children are never getting their licenses.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

William Tell Overture for Moms

Noy sure if you've seen this or not, but it's worth seeing! I am going to play this loudly every morning for my kids and save myself the energy of saying it all myself!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


(Pipo at maybe 5yo in Haiti)

It is possible for a child to grow up in a 3rd world country and be spoiled. It is possible for that child to occasionally think that the world revolves around them, and that they are 'special' and are to be treated differently than the rest of the household.

When Pipo first got here, we let a lot of things slide. I understood how many adjustments he needed to make, and that he needed the time and space to come around on his own time. Much of this had to do with food. I knew things were so different for him here, and in the first months, we were fixing seperate meals for him, or arranging family meals around his preferences. Slowly, he bagan to try new things and learn to like much of our american food. It's been almost 2 years now, and he eats what everyone else is eating. But occasionally, the old Pipo breaks out and wants his "own" seperate dinner. And it drives this mom nuts!

After speaking with many of the people who spent time down in his village, specifically in the hospital, I have realized he was catered to there. Poor sick little Pipo, all alone in the hospital, with both his parents gone, and his grandmother off to the market every day. Now I am not downplaying any of this. He has had a hard life. To be a very sick little boy with both your parents dead is a tough situation to put it mildly. But this boy learned to work it. I have had people tell me that if he had been told "no" by anyone, all he had to do was show his big puppydog eyes and give one of his charming smiles, and he would eventually get what he wants. Well puppydog eyes don't work in Fitzville.

Honestly, this kid has come so far in less than two years. But somedays, he is just one of 7, and I don't have the patience for "I don't like that, I want something else." Tough beans kid... take your puppydog eyes to dad... he's always a sure bet to say yes.

Monday, September 24, 2007


What's a lemonade stand without some live music?

Friday, September 21, 2007


See these flowers. These beauties here are of the "OhmyGodIdon'tknowhowyoudothiseveryday" variety. Every so often, something comes up that requires me to be gone earlier than the kids are up and off to school. When this happens, Fitz is 'mom' for the morning. Every time this has happened I have gotten flowers that day. Every time.

Most morning Fitz has to be at school early to give guitar lessons. He wakes up in a nice quiet house, has a shower, a nice cup of coffee sitting in his rocker in the kitchen, and then drives off to school. Approximately 10 minutes later all he## breaks loose. This is when I need to get 7 kids up and dressed, 6 of them fed, lunches packed homework checked, backpacks filled and make the rounds to the 3 schools. Oh, and that doesn't include the 3 days a week our baby friend is here.

So while I was on a train headed into Boston with Pipo for numerous Dr visits and tests, Fitz got to experience a 'mom morning'. Aside from the 'interesting' outfit Emma had on and the fact that she did her hair herself (I wrote the teacher a note to excuse myself from responsibility for these things) and that the 2 younger kids needed to use toothfairy money to buy lunches because someone forgot to make them and they were late, Fitz did a great job.

All joking aside (though all of the above was true) the man is amazing. He pulled it together after the kids were off, and I came home to a spotless house that night, and dinner ready to feed the masses. It was Wednesday night and we had 17 extras for dinner. But somehow I walked in to that clean house, with dinner spread out buffet style, friends waiting and my husband handing me a glass of wine. And flowers to boot. I love this guy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I love my kids!

Okay, you had to know this was going to end badly. But Pipo and Charlie were so darned creative, making up this game with backwards life jackets for pads, a bike helmet, a batting helmet, wiffleball bats, and boogie boards. I was laughing to hard to tell them to be careful, plus I just had to get my camera. And for the record, they made it a good 15 minutes before Charlie was crying!

PS. and if you click on that pic to make it bigger, you can see the remnants of the game they were all playing previously... Pipo had every truck we have up on the slide, and he would yell CAR WRECK, and send it down the slide, where the rest of the kids would all laugh and scream each time.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Funny conversation...

Driving to school this morning, we had our little baby friend Lyle with us in his carseat. Pipo was sitting next to him, listening to him babble. After a bit, he says to me, "I feel bad for babies that can't talk. I remember when I came from Haiti and didn't know English and it was frustrating when I didn't know the word to say."

I thought this was some mature thinking. After thinking about it for a minute though, he says to me very seriously, "But it would be pretty scary if a baby was just born and started talking like Fitz. I bet that's why God made babies so they couldn't talk.... so they wouldn't scare us all."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Looking back...

So today I was looking through old emails trying to find some information I needed. I saved all of the emails from back when we were trying to get Pipo here, so I got caught up in some emotional backtracking seeing all of these. But one email just cracked me up. It's one I sent off to our friend Conor right after he told us Pipo (Philippe) would be coming home in just a few days. Here is what I said...

Okay, and besides my emotional motherly outburst on how excited I practical side comes out. We got pounded with 16 inches of snow today. I have no idea what size Phillipe is. I am guessing he is fairly small, and in my punch-drunk motherly excited state, I can just take 5 different coats and boots to the airport, or you can give me a rough estimate of what size he is. I honestly don't mind bringing 5 coats to the airport, I just want to make sure he is warm on his trip home from Logan. Our E.J. is a size 7 at 7yrs old, and Charlie at 5 is between a 4 and a 5. I have many coats in different sizes so I can bring whatever I have. And I do fully realize that getting a passport was a much bigger hurdle than figuring out what coat size Phillipe is, but this is how a mother's brain works....

Nervous new mother much? And by the way... that coat fit!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

And on a good note...

Pipo, incredibly proud of his new Haiti soccer shirt

Rage and older child adoption

It's amazing how it can come seemingly out of nowhere. A dumb little comment or incident can trigger it, and it can blast out at you, or sometimes build slowly until it explodes with it's violence.

When Pipo first arrived we had meltdowns fairly regularly. Usually they were silent rages, where he would refuse to move or speak to us at all for indefinite amounts of time. As time went by, they became less frequent, but more pronounced. Nowadays it is a rare event, but when it happens, it reminds me of all this boy has been through.

One of the first true rages I witnessed, we were in public. I was able to contain him in the van for most of it, but ended up outside sitting on the ground holding him in the end. At first the amount of anger coming out of him frightened me. Then it ticked me off to be so inconvenienced. Then I was sad and scared, wondering what I had done to create such turmoil in this child's life. But eventually, as I held him, I began to understand.

When any of my kids has had a tantrum... the typical small child tantrum... it usually follows the same pattern. A small incident will make the child angry, maybe telling them it's time to leave the playground, or saying 'no' to one more cookie. But as the child cries and gets themself worked up, they start to remember every other 'mean' or 'bad' thing that has ever happened to them. That time they had to go to bed early. Or when you wouldn't buy them that toy, or when you wouldn't let them go to their friends' house. The more they remember the more upset and angry they get, the more out of control those feelings get.

In a child like Pipo, there are unbelievable amounts of things to be angry about. Truly, justifiably angry. He might be angry with me for telling him to put his bike away when he wasn't quite done riding, but that makes him think of how many years he lived without a bike, without any toys. It reminds him of losing his mother. Of being sick all the time, of being hungry all the time, of being uprooted from everything he has ever known. And how can I deny him that anger? How can I deny him this tantrum, this rage?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Final Hurrah

Okay, so maybe we didn't pull that bandaid off quite as fast as we intended. But we had a four day weekend with beautiful weather, some good friends to join us, and we couldn't resist getting one more weekend in down at the Cape. Two weeks ago, Fitz was ready to pull the boat out of the water. I convinced him to leave it in for a bit 'just in case'. He thanked me all weekend for that.

Sailing is a huge part of who Fitz is. Old wooden boats are an even bigger part. I knew this when we got married, as he proposed to me on an old wooden boat that was half rebuilt and sitting in his front yard. Over the years we have had various old boats in various stages of repair sitting in our yard. Occasionally those boats have made it to the water. But as the kids came, and life got busy, boats took a back seat. Even when we had one in the water, it was hard to get us all organized to get out on the water. And small children don't have the attention span for a long day on the water.

My Uncle had given us a beautiful 18 ft catboat that he had built, the boat we took our honeymoon on. It's a deep, wide, sturdy boat. Safe for kids and sturdy for sailing. But it's also heavy and untrailerable. We spent one summer with that boat moored in Eastham at some friends' house, but at low tide, the boat would be on it's side, and people walking the beach would climb all over it out of curiosity. It just wasn't the best plan, or the best boat for a family with a bunch of small kids.

The boat we have now came into our lives the way most things have... on a wing and a prayer. It's a Black Skimmer and Fitz bought it for a song and put many hours of work into it, to get it ready for the water. With all of our previous boating experience as a family, I was not convinced. Until this summer. As far as old wooden boats go, this one is a little less maintenance, and as far as small kids go, this boat is a lot more fun. With just an 8 inch draft, this 21 ft flat bottomed boat can pull right onto sandbars, and through marshes. Fitz can sail it right onto a beach and take the kids out for quick little sails. We have spent much of our time down the Cape this summer on Pleasant Bay, exploring many of the small little uninhabited islands, skimming along the National Seashore, looking out for seals, and collecting horseshoe crab shells. And I think, much to their father's joy, we can finally say we have a house full of boat lovers.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Putting it in words

I am always in awe of Fitz's writing abilities, whether it is a heartwrenching song he has done, or simply a note to one of his students. In the midst of all of our other activities this summer, he managed to run an incredible online writing community, mostly for his students, but also for some of the parents who wanted to be involved. I checked in today because I hadn't in a while and found this. He has such an amazing way of painting the picture of our life.

One on one

The kids all started school this week, except for EJ, who is off to Fenn with Fitz next week. He has had a week home with just Fitz and I and little brother Tommy. With 7 kids, it's not too often that they get pure one on one time. We make an effort to do this, but it is usually a story read, a quick trip to the store etc. And of all the kids, EJ is the least demanding, the most agreeable, the one who is always 'okay'. He's an easy one to overlook because of all those things, and Fitz and I try and make a conscious effort to not overlook what an amazing kid he is. It's one reason why I am so happy he will have this year on his own at Fenn.

So this morning, I walked Emma and Charlie to school, and EJ asked to come along. It was a gorgeous 70 degree morning, and we had nothing to hurry back for. So after dropping the little ones at school, he and I walked downtown to get breakfast. When we do spend time with each of our kids one on one, we quickly remember what a joy it is, and this morning was no exception. I had forgotten how EJ, in his quiet way, notices all of the beautiful little things that we miss in our hurry for life. We stopped to listen to a morning dove, dropped leaves in a drainage grate to watch them wash away, and stood on the bridge going over the river and noticed how low it has gotten with the heat of the summer. He also talked to me in his soft, soft voice about his quiet excitement in starting his new school. He is not much of a talker, usually willing to sit back and listen, letting all of his siblngs take over. From the moment this boy was born everyone has called him an old soul. There is a peace around him, that just makes you relax when you are with him. A morning alone with him was exactly what I needed today with this hectic beginning of the year.