Sunday, April 29, 2007


After working our way through the illiteracy issues the church threw at us, Pipo will be making his First Communion in 2 weeks. But first, we had to take care of his Baptismal certificate. He is pretty sure he was baptized, as he remembers pictures back in Haiti and has godparents as well. But as is the way in Haiti, record keeping is not a priority. We had friends going back to Haiti this year make a couple of attempts to track down some paperwork, but we knew it was pretty hopeless. So in order to get the required certificate to move on with First Communion, we needed to have a conditional baptism done.

Our good friend, Fr. Austin Fleming offered to baptize Pipo on Saturday. Fr. Fleming had baptized Charlie and Emma as well, and we knew he would make this very special for Pipo. And he did. But what was really special about this was hearing how Pipo reacted to the questions he was asked. With each question Fr. Fleming asked him, Pipo responded quickly, eagerly, incredibly sincerely. "Do you love God?" "Do you know God loves you?" "Do you love Jesus, his son?" Do you believe the spirt of God is inside you?" Each and every time, Pipo didn't hesitate for a second and with a big grin, said "Yes, of course!"

It just blows me away every time I experience this kid's faith. So many times, when life gets hard or tiring, when finances have us feeling down, when it seems like each week I am taking another kid to the doctor for this sickness or that, when any kind of stress is thrown at us, I know sometimes I feel my own faith wavering. I will find myself thinking "Why me God? Why us? God, can't you just cut us a break?" But to think of what Pipo has been through in his 10 short year, and to hear him so quickly affirm his own faith... it is truly humbling. This child has experienced war, famine, disease, hunger, poverty, death, you name it, he has experienced it first hand. And yet his faith is stronger than just about anyone I know.

I watched my son stand there and proudly have holy water poured on his head, hold himself high when he was annointed in the oil and say "Amen" right along with the priest, and mean it... really mean it. And I know I have seen true faith. I know this is the kind of faith I need to work at.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Adopting is the New Black"

Every once in a while, you come across some type of marketing ploy that is so utterly tasteless it's unbelievable. Usually, I walk away shaking my head. But a look at a clothing ad for Urban Outfitters has me shaking my head...but not walking away. I know how much adoption is in the media these days, with big name celebrities like Brangelina and Madonna parading their new children through the spotlights. Its the new "trendy" thing...everybody's doing it.

In some ways I look at this media hype and think, hey..maybe a few more people will think about adopting, maybe they'll realize what a wonderful thing it is, maybe a few kids will be saved. But I'm not stupid. I know the realities. For all the loving adoptive families out there, there will also be those people out there who jump on the 'trendy' bandwagon, and go out and get themselves a cute new accessory. It's a frightening thought that there could be people becoming parents because they think it's cool, and they want to 'go hollywood'.

We didn't come about our adoption in the usual ways. (Are there even usual ways?) Ours was an unplanned, fly by the seat of our pants, I am still amazed it's even real adoption. But that's a story for another day. What I mean is, we had no intention of being trendy. Of all of my friends and family who have adopted, I can't think of a single one who was following a trend. Maybe there are people out there who did this, but not the ones I know. But that doesn't stop the occasional lame brain with diarhea of the mouth from throwing the " aren't you guys trendy" comments our way.

It's one thing for me to hear stupid comments or jokes about this. It's another thing to display it loudly in black and white for all to see. I think about how offended I was when first seeing this shirt. But that isn't even the beginning of it. I think about the young birth mother who made an unbelievable sacrifice, and what does she think when she sees this shirt? And I think about my 10 year old son, and I am sickened by what he might think. Just sick.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Doing hair...

Reading up on older child adoption before Pipo arrived, one of the main things I saw over and over was the word 'attachment'. I wasn't all that worried about him, as I knew he was coming from a home where he was well loved, with family who had always been close. Most severe attachment issues come from situations where there has been abuse, neglect, or institution-like settings. But it was always in the back of my head, and I knew it may take a while for anyone to bond with a group of complete strangers after going through a tremendous upheaval. Looking back, I am still amazed at how quickly Pipo just jumped right in here. But even so, I still like to reinforce things as often as I can.

One of the greatest ways I have found to build in some good bonding time is by doing his hair. I didn't plan this...especially with a boy. But Pipo himself decided to let his hair grow out last summer, and so I had to learn pretty quickly how to take care of all that hair. At camp this past summer, I had a counselor (who became a good friend very quickly!) sit with me and walk me through doing "coil twists". 3 very long hours later, Pipo looked great. Unfortunately, 3 days later, after running around, swimming and rolling in the grass...the twists were gone. Since that first attempt, I have experimented a bit, and Pipo and I have compromised a bit. He allowed me to shave off a good portion of his head, and now we do 2 strand twists just on top. Even with all my practice, and twists only on top, it still takes close to an hour. But it is a solid hour of just 'me and Pipo' time. Hands on, one on one, serious bonding time.

Tonight, he was in a grouchy mood heading up to take a shower, having had his TV time interupted. When he was done, I told him I needed to put lotion in his hair. He did the usual eyerolling, and heavy sighing, but came and stood still for me. Sneaky mom started to re-do a few twists, and before you know it, he was relaxed against my knees, sitting on the stairs, and chatting away. One thing that helps is that this kid loves to look good. And he knows when he is done that he looks great. This picture was taken immediately after I finished tonight... when he ran to look in the mirror, and said "Quick, get the camera, I look good!"

Friday, April 13, 2007


So tomorrow starts the Spring soccer season in Fitzville.

Let's talk numbers here...
7 kids
6 soccer players
5 teams
4 schedules

So by 8:30 am tomorrow I need to have 6 pairs of cleats, 6 pairs of shinpads, 6 pairs of soccer socks, 6 soccer shorts, 6 shirts, and because of the lovely New England weather we have been experiencing, 6 pairs of sweatpants and turtlenecks. If you add all of this up... it equals 1 set of insane parents.

Wednesday Nights

Every Wednesday night here in Fitzville is spaghetti night. For the past 3 years or so, I get up early, and make a huge crockpot full of homemade sauce and meatballs. It started as just a couple of friends coming each week to dinner. Then a few more started to come, and then a few more. Now we have 5-6 people who come just about every week, and then a whole crowd that shows up occasionally. All our friends know the door is open that night, and there is always room at the table. some nights are quieter, some nights there will be 15 people or more squeezed in. We usually feed the kids a little earlier, and then the big people sit down. It always ends up in loud laughter around the table.

And some nights, if we are lucky... people will start to break out the instruments. This past Wednesday, our friend Ricardo stopped by with his fiddle, and before we knew it we had a full on jam session in the dining room. Our good friends Kate and Mike had come by as they are still awaiting a new oven, and Mike surprised us with some awesome piano playing. As they jumped right into a loud, raucus version of "Friend of the Devil" I wondered if any of the neighbors would call. No worries, there was plenty more meatballs and wine to give them too!

People are always shocked when they learn we do this. "You have 7 kids, and you have a big dinner party each week???" I know they think we are insane. But the truth is, Wednesday nights are what keep me sane. As tired as Fitz and I might be, whatever has gone on during the week, we never fail to start smiling sometime around Wednesday afternoon. It's our one night to put evrything else aside, and remember why we love this life. Whatever struggles life may throw our way, we have been incredibly blessed with some amazing friends. It's nice to be reminded of this every week.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Working it out

Recently, Fitz was reading to me from a study about kids sharing rooms... how kids growing up with siblings and sharing rooms do better in college, when they need to live in dorms and get along with new roomates. When I stop and watch my kids, it's true... it's amazing the negotiating skills even my 4 year old has.

People often comment on how well the kids all get along. I always laugh and explain that when there are 7 of them, there really is no sense in fighting... it's a waste of time. If you aren't getting along with one sibling, just go and find another to play with. It all works out in the end.

In some instances, this is all the more obvious. I can actually see the lessons being learned, the art of compromise and negotiation being worked out right there before my eyes. Tonight the kids all decided to play charades after dinner. Margaret, as typical of her, is the one who came up with the idea, and got everyone going with it. For a while, it was all good and fun, with lots of laughter and shouting, and "Mom look at this one!" But eventually, (as typical of her) Margaret began to revise the rules to suit her own purposes. This didn't go over well. And it didn't last long.

Very quickly, the boys caught on to the fact that the game was leaning heavily in Margaret's direction, and they began to quit the game one by one. But as soon as 3 had quit, they realized they had enough to start their own game. And because they were loud about it, and boasting how much more fun it was, the youngest kids quickly jumped ship and left Margaret stranded, alone in her own game. Wouldn't you know it... she had a change of heart, and suddenly decided maybe there rules weren't so bad after all.

This all happened within the course of 15 minutes. No input from Mom was needed (or even asked for!) and the problem was resolved with no tears being shed. Life in a big family lesson #1... It all works out in the end.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


I have been wanting to post this since yesterday, but wasn't sure if I could find the words. It is still making me uncomfortable, sad, and yes, angry.

As I was getting the kids off the bus yesterday, the busdriver asked to have a word with me. It seems that the parents of two little first graders on the bus had "come home in tears" because Pipo had been "saying things to them, and said he would send them to the principal." I told the busdriver I would speak to him, but that I was very surprised, as it was very out of character for him. She agreed, and said that is why she wanted to talk to me before she responded to these parents. I said to her that sadly, I know that sometimes people may see the color of his skin and assume he is the 'bad' kid. I wasn't sure how she would respond to that, but she immediately agreed, and said that was what she was afraid of, so she wanted to give me the heads up. I love this busdriver, and am so thankful she knows our family, but more importantly knows Pipo and knows he is a good kid. And she was just as angry as I was about the possibility of parents seeing him as "that black kid".

So I spoke with Pipo and wasn't surprised at all to hear him tell me (with EJ backing him up) that the two little girls were laughing at him so he told them if they didn't stop he would tell the principal. I told him I was proud of him, and that that is exactly what he should have done, and that he can also tell the busdriver next time. I also had a longer conversation with both he and EJ about how sometimes people will say mean things or laugh at people just because they look or sound different, and that that is WRONG and they should always stand up to it.

I know this is only the beginning...I know we will have many more discussions that will be a little more detailed. I know my son is only beginning to understand what racism is all about. But it breaks my heart that this beautiful little boy has to learn it now. I wish I could protect him forever, but I know that's not the way. I need to teach him to be proud of who he is, and to be strong. And somehow I need to teach him to educate through the anger. And somehow I need to teach myself to educate through the anger. But it's's just so damned hard.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Old Blue

So, the final tally is in, and Kaleigh is the only one in the house who has escaped antibiotics. We are all home for the day, wrapped in sleeping bags, watching the Jetsons. All in all, sick days aren;t too bad!

Having most of the crew home on a lazy rainy morning has me dreaming about the summer. And what would our summer be without Old Blue. I love this old bus almost as a member of the family.

Almost 3 years ago, I was driving through town dropping one of the kids off at a friend's house, when I saw this giant blue and chrome beast sitting on the side of the road. I literally stopped the van, catching my breath. It was truly love at first sight. After drooling over it for a minute or two, I went on about my day. But that night, I remembered it, and was telling Fitz about it. About this amazing old bus I had seen, that looked like Willy Nelson should be touring the country on it. Of course he had to see it, so we took a ride over to where it had been parked. Unfortunately, it was no longer there, and we laughed about how I must have imagined it.

Over a month later, Fitz was down at the Inn getting ready to play. An old friend stopped by with a neighbor, Bill, who Fitz had never met. They got to talking, and somehow came around to summer plans. Our friend mentioned that we should think about getting an RV someday, how it would be perfect with all the kids. Fitz laughed and told him that we had never even considered it, although "Denise saw some old bus on the side of the road last month that she fell in love with." Bill said "Maybe that was mine..." Fitz laughed and said it couldn't have been, that I had told him this was some old retro chrome beast. The guy said "then it definitely was mine." After much laughing about coincindences, Fitz was talked into going over to look at the bus at Bill's house later on.

I had been down on the Cape at the time with all the kids. While Fitz was looking at the bus, Bill asked if he wanted to come back with the family to take it for a ride. Fitz thanked him, but said that the family was down on the Cape, and that he would be joining us the next day. Bill, who Fitz had met just that night, tossed Fitz the keys, and said "Why don't you surprise them all."

Surprise doesn't come close to describing what I felt that day hearing that old diesel engine rumbling up my parents road. If it had been love at first sight for me, the second sight nearly bowled me over. I honestly can't explain what I felt, or how I still feel about an inanimate object. At the time it seemed completely irrational, but after 3 years, I am beginning to understand my feelings.

After spending a weekend on the bus, constantly reminding all kids that we were "just borrowing it", Fitz dorve the bus back to Bill's house. I thought that would be the end of it. But an hour later, Fitz was back at our house with the bus. It turned out that Bill and his wife had been trying to sell it for a while now, and really just wanted a family in it that would love it and appreciate it. Fitz tried again and again to explain we were in no position to buy something like this bus, but Bill insisted he could make it work. He told Fitz that we could just pay him along the way, when we could and to not worry about it. Fitz knew he couldn't turn this offer down, and with that, Old Blue became part of the family.

Since then, we have spent a good portion of every summer on that old bus. We live on it when we are working up at camp in New Hampshire, we take it down to the Cape to have some extra sleeping room when the whole family is down. We take it for day trips down random rural roads to just park and let the kids run wild. We spent 2 glorious weeks pulling the kids out of school and driving down south to the Outer Banks one Spring. Drove that bus right onto a ferry and over to the little Island of Ocracoke. This bus gives us memories that I know the kids will be sharing with their grandkids many, many years from now.

But more than those trips, more than those memories, this old bus makes us such a tight unit of a family. After spending the whole year running kids in 7 different directions, from school, to soccer, to tae kwon do, to Irish step, to fencing, to track, etc.... We get on that bus and move as a unit. From late June to September, we are Team Fitz. All 9 of us, moving as one. I live for these summers. I live for this bus.

Monday, April 2, 2007

House of sick

Well, after slowly working our way through strep the last couple of weeks, the real germs have decided to make themselves at home here. Last night Emma spiked a fever of 104. I stayed up a while, rechecking her, dosing her up with Tylenol, and finally sent her to bed when it was down below 102. This morning, Margaret woke up crying her throat hurts, so I sent her back up to bed with some tylenol, and went on to wake the rest of the crew up for school. They came down stairs with a rousing chorus of coughing. Checked temps all around, and only Charlie and EJ wer okayed to go to school. So I am off to the doctors for some more throat cultures this morning, and then amybe to buy some industrial sized bottles of tylenol, robitussin and maybe even amoxicillan if they'll let me!