Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The young boy pulls his hat down lower, self conscious of his newly bandaged face, of the deep scars visible under the brim of his cap. He is spending the day with a family he doesn't know, and he is nervous and shy. The customs, the people, the language in this country are all strange to him. He runs through the park, following the other kids, but not entirely sure why he is there. Eventually, he is encouraged by their laughter, a universal language, and he joins in their antics, climbing the trees and running through the winding paths created by the shrubbery.

Later, at the strange family's house, he sits quietly off to the side, watching the kids play games that are foreign to him. The lady speaks a few words of Kreyol to him, trying her best to remember the native language of one of her own sons. He nods his head quietly, acknowledging her with a soft "Wi." She points to a rack of bikes in the driveway, and the boy shows some interest, but hesitates, shy again. She holds the bike, and he climbs on. He stumbles, catching himself, rights the bike and tries again. She holds the back of the bike and guides him a ways down the street. Slowly, surely, the boy gains his balance, and wobbles along on his own for a few feet. A few more tries, and he is riding on his own... a freedom he has never known before.

Finally, she sees what she has been waiting for. As he rides down the street, even the hat pulled down low on his face can't hide it. His smile begins slowly with just a hint at his lips. By the time he is riding past her, it has blossomed into a wide grin. For only a moment, the fears, the strangeness, even the new scars from his recent surgery are forgotten. He is a little boy, who has just learned to ride his first bike.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Adopting the older child

There have been many blogs lately talking about older child adoption. These moms are speaking from the heart, openly sharing there experiences and putting it out there for other parents to read. This post really struck close to home for me, made me think. The same blogger wrote more posts that are beautiful and heartfelt, and explain how each child is so different... there is no way to prepare completely for any child at any age. The more I read, the more I found... parents adopting at all different ages, all having very different experiences, but in so many ways, similar experiences. Blogs like this one, and this one.

Reading all of this made me think about our own experiences. I have always tried to find a good analogy for adopting the older child, and used to explain it as a game of chess... where you are always thinking three moves ahead. But that doesn't explain it fully. Our 'low' times with Pipo are few and far between these days, and much less severe, but they are still there. We had one such moment over the weekend, and Fitz and I spent half a day trying to understand this little boy, trying to figure out where he was coming from, why he acted the way he did. And suddenly it dawned on me. It is like reading a book.

Have you ever read a long, complicated novel? Harry Potter stands out to me. Often in the Harry Potter series, I found myself flipping back chapters, to remember certain scenes, certain conversations between characters to help me understand what was happening in the current part of the book. Much in the same way, I often find myself doing this with my bio kids. When they react to a situation in a different way than their siblings, I can look back through our share of stored memories and understand where they are coming from. Tommy had so many health issues as a baby and toddler; it makes sense that he is terrified at doctor's appointments. Kaleigh had a horrible experience accidently hitting a beehive in the woods with Fitz. She is terrified of bees. She is so much more dramatic at the sight of a bee than any of the others. I have read each and every one of these kids' chapters... I can flip back and remember, and use that information to help me navigate the present.

With Pipo, we started this book many chapters in. Those chapters are gone, cut out of the book, and I don't have them to look back through. Pipo, arriving at almost 9, was old enough to ask about those chapters. Occasionally, memories will surface and he will share them, but we have never experienced them... there are gaps and pages missing for us. Every time something comes up with him, Fitz and I try desperately to understand, we so desperately want to help him through. We do our best, but sometimes, many times, we are working blindly.

All this being said, it is one of the best 'books' we have ever read. I constantly find myself dreaming about the chapters to come... the ones that haven't even been written yet. It's a challenging book, this older child adoption, but one definitely worth the read.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I interrupt this blog for a very important announcement. Pipo and EJ came brought home the 2nd place trophies for Minor League baseball tonight. Pipo has waited 2.5 long years to earn a "big trophy" like the many big sister Kaleigh has. He was not going to let go of that thing. He even managed to ride his bike home from the park while carrying it!

Summer has begun

Our first trip to the Cape is officially past, having left the day after school got out last week. We arrived home early yesterday, and i set about getting all the unpacking, laundry, and small errands done so we can head out again on Friday. Summers over the past few years have developed a fairly consistent routine here. We head out on an adventure, be it the Cape, camp up in New Hampshire or our annual pilgrimage to Vermont. We come home for a day or two in between, to do laundry and repack. So here we are home for our first 'in between' visit.

I have posted before about how much I love this town. Everything about it, from the fantastic schools, to the great neighborhood we live in, to the coolest little downtown with every great type of restaurant you can imagine. Often, when I am running around, toting various Fitzlings to school or soccer practice, or a baseball game, I see something that reminds me how much I love this town. It could be a group of high school boys playing a game of pick up basketball at the old elementary school building, it could be an elderly couple strolling hand in hand towards downtown, it could be neighbors out doing yard work or chatting over their fences or even watching my own crew racing up and down the street with the neighborhood kids on their bikes. I often look around me and think that this is Norman Rockwell in living color.

Yesterday, as I drove through town running all my little errands, I saw all of those scenes pass by. But this time, it didn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy and nostalgic. The sun was shining, and it was a gorgeous 75 degree summer day, but I was not in a great mood. I wasn't looking around me thinking proudly how this is 'my town... this is where I belong'. In fact, I was feeling very much like I didn't belong.

Suddenly I realized that all my good thoughts revolve around 9 months of the year. 9 months of the year, this is our home, this is where I want to be more than any place in the world, where I want to raise my kids. But these days, those other three months, we don't belong here. We belong on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod. We belong on the cool clear waters of the lake up in New Hampshire. We belong on our old blue bus, traveling down old back roads, laughing and arguing about where we will be next. For 3 months of the year, we belong anywhere but home. And as I drove through town, I realized my foul mood... it was resentment.

These trips home are a necessity though... the taking care of the small details so we can keep on traveling, keep on making our adventures. So I go about my errands, and I push away the resentment. I am thankful for our summers... I am thankful that our lives have brought us to this place, where we can travel about, all 9 of us, having the time of our lives.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My kids, however, feel none of this resentment. They fully enjoy each and every day of their summer freedom, and decided to throw an impromtu backyard carnival... just to add to our normal Wednesday night chaos. Here are a few pictures from last night.

The apple bob...

The sponge toss...

The marble tournament...

Kaleigh's tatoo parlor...

Charlie's new tatoo...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


at 7:05pm, E.J., along with the Fenn School Treble Chorus, will be singing the National Anthem for the Red Sox game at Fenway park. I don't think life could get any better for a 10 year old boy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Recently, I recieved a phone call from a neighborhood mother that two unnamed Fitzlings were teasing a younger boy in the neighborhood. When I asked the two culprits, they both confessed quickly to the crime. They were asked to go immediately to their room to each write two notes of apology, one to the little boy, and one to his mother. They did so without questioning. After they were written and inspected, they rode their bikes down to deliver them. The mother called immediately afterwards, surprised, and thankful that I had handled the situation so quickly, and asked about the use of apology notes.

Apology notes are standard here in Fitzville. They have been written for everything to disrespectfulness to a soccer coach at practice, to forgetting a major assignment for a teacher, to breaking the toy of a sibling. A personal favorite note of mine is saved... stashed away in a folder somewhere. This particular child was left in the care of a grandmother while Fitz and I were away. When we returned, said child was up in their room, and Grandma told us she was writing a note, and would be down soon. When the note was handed over it read "Dere Gramma, I sawwy I thwoed da Kat." It was hard to keep a stern face in that instant, and remind the child that tossing the new kitten in the air was not a good idea. But despite the age and lack of spelling skills... the note was written, the point was made. All of our kids have had to write notes over the years (some more than others) The length and content of the note depend on the age of the child. As they have gotten older, they know that it is not a simple "I'm sorry". They need to reflect on why they are sorry... and how they can make it better.

This has worked well for us in so many ways. It is an immediate consequence, it makes them really think about why what they did was wrong, and helps them understand exactly how their behavior affects other people. And as an added bonus, it boosts writing skills! So many times I question my parenting tactics, especially when dealing with the multiple personalities in this house. (The kids... not mine!) But this idea has worked with each and every one of them. The ones old enough to really reflect on it, have even understood that it makes them feel better after writing the note. Works for me.

(Note:the above photo was only used as an embellishment. It in no way implies that the subject in the photo has done anything wrong. In fact this, child never does anything wrong at all. She is a princess. Ask her.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Late night giggles

With the outrageous heat wave we have been having and our airconditioner-less house, the kids have all been sleeping in the basement together the last 4 nights. It's a school night, it's 10:30pm, and yes they should be asleep by now. But how do you yell at a room full of giggles?

Digging in the dirt

After spending a couple of hours yesterday listening to Fitz play his stuff at the very cool Gaining Ground, the kids grabbed as many leftover flats as they could manage, and are spending the afternoon (in the 90+ degree heat no less!) planting all their new prizes. Looking forward to some good eats later this summer. A little old heat wave won't slow down any Fitzkids!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Well, birthday season in Fitzville has officially come to a close. EJ blew out the 10 candles on his specially ordered, mom made chocolate chocolate chip raspberry cake, and then had the first big slice and sat back to watch the rest of the Wednesday night spaghetti crowd fight over the remaining slices. Nothing like a birthday falling on a Wednesday around here to get a guaranteed party!

Coincidentally, today was 'prize day' at EJ's school, so the lucky birthday boy had to sit for two solid hours listening to speeches given by various teachers and administrators. He was rewarded for all his sitting by receiving two math prizes, for getting top scores on two national math tests. Go EJ! And a big shout out to my big brother Jim (the rocket scientist) because Fitz and I both know the math genes did not come from us! Jim, you'll be happy to know those mathematical genius traits were passed on well.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


is what summer is. After dinner popsicles as the sun fades away.