Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Last night was the high school sports banquet. Being a tiny high school of only about 300 kids, we have one awards night for all the teams together. Kaleigh was announced as the “unsung hero” of the soccer team. I wasn’t surprised to hear the way her coach described her. He said that she gave her heart and soul out there for ever single game. I wasn’t surprised at all. Kaleigh gives her heart and soul to everything she does.
One of the schools that Kaleigh recently applied to requested a parent letter, describing important qualities you felt your son/daughter has. The first word that came to my mind was passion. From the time Kaleigh was tiny, everything she did she did with passion and she continues it to this day. Whether it is school work, on the sports field or sitting with her guitar in hand, she puts everything she’s got into it.
She will be a huge asset to any school that akes her next year, but she will leave a big hole in this home while she is away.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I've written about our crazy soccer schedule in the past, both here and here... but this fall we are at a whole 'nother level. All 7 are playing, one on two different teams, and no one is on the same team. Eight different schedules to follow. A friend commented the other day on how organized we must be, and what my calendar must look like. I admitted that we don't even have a calendar. I keep stuff in my head, always have. That way I won't lose it! The truth is, if I wrote everything on the calendar I think my head might just explode. Going day by day doesn't seem so scary, but to see all of it out there... I'm just not sure I could deal with it. I counted last night, and we have 19 practices a week. Thankfully Kaleigh can drive to her own, so I am 'only' left with 14. Add on the 7-10 games per week, CCD starting for 6 of them, multiple doctor and dentist appointments set up for the fall, and Fitz and I are left with our heads spinning.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Then I took pictures for Kaleigh's senior portraits... she might not be getting any bigger, but she sure is looking older!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Fitz had just come home from work. After routinely asking him about his day, I tried in vain to listen to him above the normal chaos of a house with 6 young kids whose Daddy had just gotten home from work. As I waded through the thick mass of toys and toddlers which had become my home, one sentence filtered through to me. “His name is Philippe, and he is eight years old…”
Much, much later, when the kids had been tucked in and some of the chaos of the house sorted out, we lay side by side in the darkness of our room. I asked him again to tell me about Philippe. It seemed an old student of his, Conor Shapiro was working in Haiti, and his family was adopting a young boy. When Fitz asked Conor’s mom about it, she immediately told him about Philippe…another little boy needing a home. He said he would go home and talk it over with me. But there was no talking needed. From the moment Philippe’s name filtered through to me that afternoon, another Fitzsimmons child was born.
Adoption was not a brand new idea to us. After making several trips to Honduras, Fitz and I spoke of adoption often. We even got as serious at one point as to start looking into the requirements of several different international adoption programs. But as time went on, we soon had six children of our own, and the idea became something more distant…something to put off until our children were a bit older. It became a vague, fuzzy vision of a foreign, exotic looking toddler with six older siblings to spoil him or her. Not once in our brief discussions did Haiti come up. Not once had we talked about an older child. Most certainly we had never discussed taking on a child with serious illness.
As we have found out, yet again, life rarely turns out as we expect it. After going through pregnancy and childbirth six times, I thought, “How hard could this be?” We started first with the appropriately named ‘home study’ process. They do actually study your home. After interviews separately with the social worker at her office spilling our lives out, and then an interview together, she came to our home to interview our kids and inspect our home. I was nervous to the point of being nauseous. Would we pass this test? Would we be acceptable parents? If things were found to be wrong, what would that mean…that I had already failed as a parent six times over? Throughout this process, one thing kept me sane. It was a picture pinned up to our bulletin board. The little boy was Philippe, and he was eight years old…
Over the next several months, that picture on our bulletin board became an accepted part of our house, of our family. One morning I awoke to the sound of two small voices in the kitchen. Charlie, 5, was asking EJ, 7 where babies came from. EJ, with his infinite patience, was explaining to Charlie that God puts the babies inside the mama, and when they are ready, they come out. Charlie replied with, “so Mama had a baby inside her, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then another and then another?” “Yes,” said EJ. “Well what about Philippe?” asked Charlie “Well, God knew Mama was tired, and so he decided the next baby would come from Haiti,” answered EJ. “But Philippe’s not a baby,” pointed out Charlie. EJ, again showing his patience, replied “Well God knew a baby wouldn’t be much fun for us to play with, so he made him 8.” As I lay there listening to them, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to cry. Our kids had made common sense of a situation which we had pondered over for hours about how to explain to them.
Now, many months later, I sit here in the dark thinking about that little boy. He is lying in a hospital bed far, far away from us. I have spent the last several days contacting every government official I can think of who may be willing to help. Each conversation starts the same way, “His name is Philippe, and he is eight years old…” I have politicians in three states fighting for us to help get our son home. The US Ambassador to Haiti is pleading with the Haitian government to make an exception, waive some requirements and let Philippe exit the country in order to be rushed to the US for medical treatment. There is nothing more I can do now but wait. It’s an excruciating feeling as a parent. We know we have done our best, and we hope we have reached the right people, touched the right emotions, and helped people understand the imperativeness of this situation.
So for now, we wait. I hold on tightly to our six children here with us, and am thankful for their good health. I pray daily for Philippe’s well being and hope that he will be here soon. A stranger stops, noting how many children we have. After commenting to the kids on how many brothers and sisters they have, Margaret quickly pipes up, “We have another brother….his name is Philippe, and he is eight years old…”
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I laugh at the title of that last post. Did I really think I was catching up? That I ever could catch up? Life seems to have spun out of control on us somewhere along the way, and I feel like I just grabbed an overhanging tree branch to yank myself out of the current.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Well... Fitz Mountain is finally gone. The winter we thought would never end has finally turned into Spring! And with Spring comes yard work, which Tommy and Emma are glad to help with, as long as it includes a ride in the trailer!
Easter came and went, with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. Actually... a mid egg hunt snowball fight was the final demise of the mountain!
Then came Fitz's birthday, with so many candles I had to get a permit from the fire department!
Last week, Margaret had 12 inched cut from her hair, which she donated to locks of love.
And last but not least, Emma made her First Communion. The 5th in a row here in Fitzville. We have a brief hiatus this coming year, before Tommy has the grand finale.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Our most recent change in routine is a nice one though... in the form of an unexpected visitor. Our friend, Livingstone Mpagi from Uganda flew in last week and has been staying with us. We met Livingstone 2 years ago at camp. He was a counselor that the kids fell in love with immediately, especially Pipo, who came up to me soon after camp started telling me "Mom, Livingstone is my best friend!"
We knew Livingstone as the quiet, gentle farmer from Uganda, but didn't know much more. This past week has been an amazing week finding more and more about this amazing person.
I have spent the last hour helping Livingstone set up a blog of his own to promote his school in Uganda. He is brand new to blogging, and still figuring out the whole system. His school is shown on a website here at Building Brighter Futures.
The picture at the top of the post is the initial school Livingstone built in 1996. He had 11 students from the village attending. Now, he serves more than 200, in the school pictured at the bottom of the post. Livingstone's new blog is Bukeka Children's Center . Stop by and send some encouragement!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Fitz laughs whenever I get like this. He tries to convince me that no one will care if Tommy's shirt matches his pants, or if Emma's pigtails are uneven. But I know the truth. Everyone will be watching.
Why is it that when a family (especially a large family) goes out in public, the husband and wife are viewed so differently? If it's the typical chaos, and someone's shoes are on the wrong feet, someone's hair isn't brushed, someone buttoned their shirt wrong... people look at the dad and thing "Oh, that poor, hardworking guy... just trying to support that big family of his." But when they look at the mom, they are thinking "Man, why can't she get her act together? Those poor kids... she has so many of them she can't possibly care for them properly!"
I know society thinks this way. So for now I will keep spit-slicking my husbands hair down on the way to church, no matter how many times he smacks my hand away.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Fitz and I have talked lately about how thankful we are for what we have... especially these days. Things are always tight, and we scrape by, but we do it with fun and love and purpose. One of the things I am most thankful for is the experiences we have been able to give our kids.
All told, I have had it pretty good my whole life, but if there is one thing I regret, it is the lack of traveling I have done. Fitz has been around the world, and the big joke when he tells his stories is me saying "I've never been anywhere..." He promises me that someday I will be able to venture out of my little New England bubble.
My oldest daughter Kaleigh, however, is fairly well traveled for a 17 year old kid. Last summer, she had the amazing opportunity to spend a month in the Caribbean through the incredibly awesome Summer camp Fitz and I work at... Windsor Mountain International. Today, we officially found out that this summer, Kaleigh will be spending a month in Peru, in a full Spanish immersion program. How cool is that. I fully admit I am living my life vicariously through Kaleigh, and I am incredibly excited for this opportunity for her.
Every summer, Fitz and I must say a hundred times how lucky we are to have camp be such a huge part of our lives. Even before these trips, Kaleigh had such awesome experiences just being part of camp while we worked. And now, all 7 kids are getting so much out of it every summer.
We are just counting down the weeks now... the kids ask me regularly, "how much longer until camp?"
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
There is nothing I love better than listening to my kids chatting away after they are supposed to be going to sleep. I just can't get mad when I hear them laughing and joking up there. Tonight, I lingered on the stairs a bit to listen to the 4 boys, all in one bedroom. They were discussing names, and why they had their names. Charlie was retelling what I had once told him... that I didn't care what Fitz called the baby if it was a girl, but if it was a boy, it was definitely Charlie. E.J. told the others that he was going to be Sarah if he was a girl (true), and they all cracked up and said they would call him Sarah now. In the middle of all this, Charlie says, "But what about sauce?" "Huh?" said 3 brothers' voices. Charlie went on... "but what about sauce, I mean why do we call it sauce?"
This had me laughing all the way down the stairs, to tell Fitz, where it reminded us of another story from years back. I was driving a van full of young kids, and they were all discussing animals. I was trying to impress upon them what a brilliant mom they had by classifying animals. I was explaining that a dog is actually a canine, a cat is a feline, but they are both mammals... etc. Suddenly, a small voice in the back pipes up, little Emma asking "Yeah, but what about croutons?"
I still haven't been able to answer that one.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
While some people understood my anger at the ignorance I witnessed yesterday, many thought I was jumping to conclusions, and being overly sensitive.
I have learned in the past three years that it is a very thin line walk as a parent of a black child. You want to be there to protect them, and to prepare them for the racism they may encounter in life. But you also want to teach them tolerance, acceptance and trust. I certainly don't want Pipo to be expecting people to judge him... and yet I don't want to raise him to be naive either.
It's hard posting things on a blog... so much is left to the interpretation of the reader. There's no good way to convey tone, inflection or attitude. I am sure that the woman yesterday had no idea Emma and Pipo were siblings... I wouldn't expect her to know that. But the tone of her voice, the expression on her face said everything to me when she spoke of the "African American boy."
Even before Pipo arrived, I had seen much ignorance. Having a big family puts us out there, so to speak, and leaves us vulnerable to peoples public (and sometimes very vocal) opinions. But I've learned over the years to listen carefully when people speak... and not just to their words. Two strangers can say the exact same thing to me, and have totally different meanings. When finding out we have 7 kids, I often hear, "Are you going to have more?" Picture these words spoken by someone with open curiosity and a smile on their face. I love talking to people who are genuinely curious as to what its like to raise a crew. Now picture those words spoken with a sneer, and a look of disgust. It's very hard not to read in the implications there... I'm overpopulating the world, I am irresponsible, I am creating tax burdens on those with smaller families, I can't possibly have enough love or attention for that many, and am therefore neglectful.
When we are in public, and Pipo yells "Mom!" to me, I get lots of reactions. I am the first to say that the vast majority of the reactions are positive. But it's the same deal. It's not the words, but how they are said. "He's your son?" with a smile and a curious look can often lead to a cool conversation about adoption. "He's your son?" with a look of disgust makes me wonder what the person is thinking. I actually had one person say straight out to me "do they all have different fathers?"
But I also know this ignorance is the minority, at least from what I have experienced. And even many of the most ignorant comments are from well meaning people. People who have just not been around different types of families, different types of people. (Don't even get me started on the dreadlock comments I have gotten!) But just because it is rare, it doesn't mean I should teach my kids that it is out there. Pipo needs to know, he needs to be aware. By not teaching him this I would be doing him a huge disservice. And so I walk that fine line, and try to teach him to not just hear the words, but the way they are spoken.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Today I had the kids at Fitz's big end of the year wrestling tournament. We go every year, so by this point, my kids know the building really well, and I am pretty comfortable to let them run loose there. So I was standing with another parent, watching a match when a woman walked up to me holding Emma's hand. She told me that Emma was alone on the first floor of the building and a group of boys were harassing her. I laughed a little and told her that they were probably her brothers. The woman was still upset, and told me they were 'threatening' Emma and telling her they would give her candy if she kissed someone. I asked Emma who, and she said Pipo, Charlie and Tommy. I told Emma to go get them, and again told the woman they were just her brothers, and I was sure they were just teasing her. The woman, looking very angry at this point, said "No... there was an African American boy there, and she looked scared!"
And there it goes... the bigger black boy with the smaller white girl. Obviously a little thug, obviously up to no good, obviously the poor little white girl was in danger from the black kid.
I told the woman a little more firmly this time... "Yes.. that is her brother," and I walked away. But I walked away fuming. If it had been Charlie or EJ teasing Emma, this would not have happened. But because it was Pipo, this woman assumed he was up to no good. The fact that she said Emma looked scared made me laugh... of course she was scared. A strange woman grabbed her by the hand and dragged her away!
I took all the kids aside and talked to them about teasing, but I also told them what this woman said. I have talked with all of the kids about this before. They need to know it's out there. They need to know that some people will see Pipo' skin color first. It makes me angry that a normal sibling moment turns into this, but it is part of our life. It is part of life that Pipo will always have to deal with, and moments like this are just part of the learning process for him.
The funny thing is that after it all, I was still fuming... I wanted to haul that mom outside and knock the ignorance out of her. (I know... very mature, but it's the mama bear thing I have going... don't threaten my cubs.) But Pipo was in a great mood afterwards. I couldn't understand at first, because it made me so mad. But then he said "Mom, you're really mad at that lady, huh?" and he smiled. And I knew then... he knows we've got his back. We've taught him that ignorance is out there, but we've taught him that we will do our best to stand up to it, to stand behind him.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Been away from the blog for a bit, but we are just finishing up vacation week and getting back a little normalcy here. If there is any such thing as normalcy here in Fitzville!
We had a fantastic few days down the Cape with Nana and Papa and some fun, fun cousins. Much swimming was done, and a short visit to a maritime museum where the kids got to try their hand at some scrimshaw. The pirate dress up area was the favorite by far though.
Mid week I had a situation come up where I needed to drive to NJ unexpectedly. With Fitz not being on vacation, this meant I needed to either take several kids with me on a 5 hour two way road trip, or find people to watch all the kids overnight. Most people who know me know that I have a very difficult time asking for help. Fitz reminds me constantly that people like to help... and that I have no problem offering to take other peoples kids at a moments notice. Well, I didn't have much choice here, so I started making phone calls. And this is where I love our little town. As much as I hated asking, I knew without a doubt that there were so many people I could call, and I knew they would help without hesitation.
An hour later, I had 5 kids distributed among 3 different houses. The kids were thrilled with the spur of the moment sleep over arrangements, and I was relieved to know they would all be in good hands.
The bonus of all this is that Margaret decided to come with me for company. This meant some unexpected one on one time (rare in our house) and a night at a hotel with a pool. As tough as the long drive was, we had a very fun night.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
A fellow blogger recently asked me to do a post on hair, so I will do my best here.
So now his hair has been "locked" for well over a year. It's getting pretty long, but I must say, it suits him.
I add a clip to each finished lock, right at the base. You can see below how fuzzy the untwisted part of his head is.
There are lot's of variations to this routine. I use "Let's Jam" for gel. I have tried many products, but this is the one which worked best for Pipo's hair. As far as parting the hair goes, I was pretty loose about it. Being a boy, I didn't care so much how 'uniform' his locks looked. So the parts are not even at all, and the locks themselves are varying sizes. I like this look for him, it seems more 'boyish' and natural.