Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shout out and prayers

This is Tommy with my niece and godchild, Tori. This weekend, Tori was rushed to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. Not a common thing for a 5 year old. She is doing well, recovering from surgery yesterday, and waiting and watching for infection. She is a spitfire of a kid who holds her own with her 2 older siblings, so I have no doubt that she will be up and about in no time. But it's no fun to be cooped up in a hospital when you are just in kindergarten!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Okay then...

I've been called fairly regularly to sub the last 2 weeks, and it's something brand new everyday. Part of the fun of it for me is having a whole new set of kids each day, sometimes whole new age groups.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in one of the kindergarten classes. One small girl sitting in the front row during story time was frantically waving her hand. When I finally called on her, she held her hand out to me and said "Mrs. Fitz, I picked some boogers out of my nose... can I go throw them away?"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Childhood memories

There are childhood memories, and then there are childhood memories. What stands out most prominently from my own childhood, are not just the cool moments, but the people involved in them. Yes there were good friends, cool teachers... but every once in a while, there would me some one that stood out in a different way. In my childhood, that was the mailman and the milkman. Two people in everyday jobs, that could have just gone about there work and never made an impact. But they didn't. They stepped out of their box, and made memories for myself and the other kids in our neighborhood that define what childhood should be.

Our mailman always came by late afternoon, after school was out. Inevitably there would be a neighborhood game in progress, usually being played in the road. When a car came, (which was rare before 6pm when all the Dads came home) we would all yell "CAR" and move the street hockey nets, stickball bases or whatever was out in the road with us. Almost every afternoon, our mailman would take a short break, drop his bag on the nearest lawn, and jump into our game for a moment. We all loved it. No matter whose team he jumped into, we would all scream and cheer as he grabbed the whiffle ball bat, or slapped a tennis ball by our goalie.

Our milkman came by late morning, and before I was school aged, I can remember hearing his truck pull into the driveway. I would race outside as he rolled up the back door to his truck. He would let me climb in, and wait as long as I needed to pick out my favorite icecream flavor. Then he would make a big deal as I helped him carry in all the 'very important' things my mom needed... milk, juice, eggs. He made me feel like his most important helper every time.

I am sure part of this was fun for these guys... maybe a much needed break in a somewhat mundane day. But to us kids, this was the world. It was an adult letting us into their world, taking notice of us, letting us know we mattered.

My kids have lucked out in getting just such a guy in their own lives. Our ice cream man is the stuff of childhood fantasies. From the first day this man pulled in front of our house (when not only were my 7 home, but several neighbor kids) he has treated my kids as if they are his own grandkids. No matter if I happen to have a few spare dollars on me that day or not, he makes sure no one leaves empty handed. He almost always slips me a few extra ice cream bars, and says "For you and your husband... you work so hard for your kids!" He never charges for those extras.

This afternoon, my kids heard the truck coming a mile away, and were dancing around the driveway in anticipation. And what a treat it turned out to be. It was his final round of the season, and he was cleaning out stock. He let the kids pick their favorites from what he had left, and then said he had a surprise for them. He handed me a box overflowing with treats.

The kids all thanked him a million times, dancing around with their ice cream covered smiles. But I don't think they realized what they were thanking him for. The ice cream was gone in minutes. The extras in the freezer will probably be gone by tomorrow after sharing with all our Wednesday night friends. But the memory of today will be there forever. As I have reminisced and told my kids about my mailman, and my milkman... I know all these kids will be sharing the story of their ice cream man with their own kids some day. And what a sweet memory for all of us.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Starting the rounds

I've been up since 6:30am... no matter that it's a weekend. After taking the last of the soccer gear, (countless pairs of black socks and black shorts) out of the dryer, I begin to fill water bottles. I just dropped Kaleigh off at the highschool to catch the bus to her varsity game, over an hour away. Fitz and I will spend the day tag teaming, getting the rest of the crew to their various games in various towns. I have boy duty today... Charlie's game is about 40 minutes away, and we lucked out... Pipo and E.J.'s game is on the way home, just off the highway. Fitz will be doing TigerCub duty with Tommy and trekking Margaret to the next town over. And so go our Saturdays.

Why do we do it? We both work hard all week, why spend what could be a rare day off shuffling from one field to another, rushing them all from one game to the next? It would be easy to say we love it, but I'll admit there are those mornings we definitely don't. It would be easy to say the kids love it, and I am pretty sure they do. But the reality is, this is one piece of the puzzle of living in a large family.

I want my kids to be able to do anything they want. But the reality is, 7 kids on a teachers salary doesn't put us in that position. And it's not just money... it's time. If 7 kids were doing 7 different activities, there just wouldn't be time enough in the day, or the week to get them all where they need to be. Soccer is such a great sport... it allows them to be with friends, develop skills, stay fit, learn teamwork and determination... but most of all, it's inexpensive and convenient. Many of them practice on the same field. The schedule is organized with families of multiple children in mind... the games are all staggered throughout the day.

And with that thought... I will load up the van. Game on!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Emma is loving second grade and learning all kinds of new things. Apparently, the new word she has learned is "Vertical". And in only the way that 7 year old minds can work, this morning she said "I'm going to find everything that's vertical. What's vertical? Telephone poles are vertical!" Do you know how many telephone poles we pass on our ride to school? 8,472 of them. I know, because that is exactly how many times Emma shouted "VERTICAL!" on our way to school this morning.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First day of ?

For 11 years now, I have been a stay at home mom. None of our kids have gone to preschool, so they were home full time until kindergarten. Tommy had his first day of kindergarten last week, and there were no tears, not even a misty eye here. It was exhilarating driving away that morning... knowing I had done a good job, shown all my little chicks their wings and taught them to fly.

Pipo and E.J.'s school had not started yet though, so I was still home with them. Today, the boys went off to school with Fitz and I drove the other 5 off to their respective schools, and after a quick doctor's appointment for Kaleigh, I came home to an empty house. After 11 years, I wondered what emotions would be going through my head at this moment. The strongest one was the most unexpected. Not joy, not exhilaration, not sadness, or wistfulness... it was depression. I sit here now wondering who I am all of a sudden. For all these years I have fully embraced the role of "mom". It was who I was.

Now I am fully aware that I am still a mom, but for 6 hours a day now I need to redefine myself. I will be substitute teaching this year, and I know once I get started, I will feel once more like the teacher I was many years ago. But today I have no role... no purpose. It's a hard feeling to sit here with.

I am beyond excited to see who my kids are turning out to be. No sadness here about days gone by, no more babies. But who am I turning out to be? What have these 11 years given me? Who is going to show me my wings?

People always told me I would probably cry when my youngest went off to school. I always laughed at that, and said "no, not me!" But they were right. I just had no idea why I would be crying. It's not the loss of the babies and toddlers... it's the loss of myself.

* * * * * * * *

And on that note, I am going to pirate a cartoon of my brother's... I only wish it was this easy...

Thanks Jim.