Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Dreaded Family Photo

 We tried again.  I think someday the children will thank me for attempting to document that all 8 of us were actually together in a picture.  Right? Hopefully?  Maybe?  

I took the kids to a preschool fair last spring and entered to win a free photo session with I am I Designs and Photography. We won! If I remember correctly I was there with 7 kids.  Alone.  This must have been the only thing that I entered since I had 1 or 2 kids on my hips at any given moment.

 After our Red Thread Session I was a little weary about the idea of gathering up the troops and trying to pretend that this isn't extremely stressful.  I 

 I finally gathered up the courage to contact the photographer Raquel to set up the session. 
She picked the most amazing location--Topsmead State Forest.  
~It's near a winery.  Good to know.~
About the outfits.  It started with the girls.
 I really wanted to order some amazing Matilda Jane outfits for the girls and actually for me.  
 I am obsessed, especially with the big ruffle pants...
but as it turns out way too broke to invest in the amazing world of MJ right now.  
I will have to start saving my pennies and a whole lot of bills. 
 I was stalking online for something Matilda Jane-ish...
and I found the most darling little handmade ruffled rompers for the girls, made by Chloe Belle's Boutique.
If they made these in adult sizes, I think I would wear them every day. 
 I found some chevron bows for the girls and even some chevron shorts for Jakie.
We were good to go.
The photographer brought a phenomenal assistant.
 She paid attention to the little details when I described my children prior to our session...
and she brought some bubbles, 
and of course, a soccer ball.
There were no tears.  Actually, the littles just thought it was playtime. Besides the heat, it was as relaxing as a photo shoot can get.  Thanks Raquel!  You rock!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Staycations are not for us. {LARGE family, MUST travel}

Every year, we have the same problem.  We put off all of our house projects, hoping that we will be full of zest and energy during the summer. In May and June we are SO ready. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The days are about to be leisurely, and we will have time to sit and chat over coffee by 9ish. This is to be followed by a little work around the house, and then we are off to a fantastically fun afternoon trip.  You see, we are both special education teachers. We are just as bad as the students as we count down the days, the hours, and the minutes until we can yell it:  SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!

We make a fun bucket list that usually looks something like this:  Watch Hill, Ocean Beach, strawberry picking at Deeply Rooted, blueberry picking at Evergreen, outdoor movies in Canton, the Bronx Zoo, the splash pad in Plainville, a Rock Cats game, the Science Center, and of course Lake Compounce.  Repeat.  Add any free kid activity that I can find. Repeat.

This staycation sounds great, right?  I mean, who needs a vacation when we are just doing a little work around the house and fun local activities all the time? 

Add in the following and stir well: summer camp,  swimming lessons,  baseball clinics,  Vacation Bible School,  ear surgery,  trips up to Shriners in Boston, Shriners in Springfield, the Yale Adoption Clinic, St. Mary’s Hospital, Birth-3 a few times a week, music therapy sessions,  well visits with pediatrician, and the Smile Spot. When mixed well, sprinkle with construction:  Our little fence that was supposed to take 1 day (per my husband), dragged on for 3 long weeks.  The deck by the pool that was painstakingly replaced piece by piece meant that we couldn’t swim until around the 4th of July. 

Did I mention that I have 6 kids?  I was going to bed exhausted.  While my husband worked on projects around the house, I felt like a single mom.  This was not the fun summer that I had planned on, and time was ticking away. 

I needed a vacation from my staycation. 

We weren’t really planning on going away.  Could we really swing travel with 6 kids; with THREE two-year-olds?  Were we totally crazy to even consider such a thing? 


36 hours before we left, I booked a week in OBX. Since it was a last minute timeshare rental, it was dirt cheap and worth every penny. We pulled the kids out of camp, canceled B-3, music therapy and medical appointments, and set up pet care. My husband finished the brakes on the car minutes before leaving. I instructed each child to pack 5 outfits, toothbrushes, and any electronics/loveys needed.  We threw the 3 pack-and-plays and a double stroller up on top of the car, a couple of suitcases, and we were off. 

The place was amazing.  It offered: three bedrooms and three bathrooms, room to run, indoor pool, outdoor pool, kiddie splash pad, trails, game room, activities, the beach.  A washer/dryer in the unit?  Oh my goodness perfect. This was just what we needed to regroup without distractions. 

After our week was completed, we packed up and drove down to the Florida beaches for week 2.  Yes—we got another dirt cheap timeshare rental.  This is the only way for our large family to travel since there is no way we can sneak into a hotel room unnoticed.  We are *slightly* noisy. There are tons of free and cheap activities in Florida, and we took advantage of everything local.  Mini golf? Check.  Feed the gators?  Check.  Walk up a lighthouse?  An exhausting check.  We saved money by cooking for the kids in the kitchens, and getting the occasional yummy takeout for adults. 

After a quick stop in Savannah, GA (Candy Kitchen anyone?!?), we drove home all day and night.  We are back to medical appointments, weekly Boston trips for the clubfoot casting, speech, and I have to hustle to get ready for my next half marathon.  We have exactly 7 days until school starts and I have a list of day trips planned.  We are actually heading out to the light show at Lake Compounce in a minute.  I have yet to unpack my own backpack, but we are making memories—and that’s what counts. 

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mr. Handsome

While at the Shriners burn unit in Boston, I met the most lively little girl, nicknamed Mei Mei.  She has this tiny little body and a big beautiful voice that reminds me of a sister of mine when she was about her age. Mei Mei came home from China last year, and is an absolutely gorgeous and charming little lady.  While in China, a group of teens that were volunteering in her orphanage fell in love with her and started fundraising in order to help raise the money for her to receive the necessary therapies that she needed while in China as well as funds to provide care for her post-adoption. Red Thread Charities is an organization that helps facilitate care for children like Mei Mei, and they were awesome enough to help the teens fundraise...and to help Mei Mei find her forever family.  How amazing is this organization?!  It was through that organization that Mei Mei's mama and baba found her.

Now, Red Thread Charities is working hard to help out this little one. I will call him Mr. Handsome. 
Mr. Handsome is 7 and has lived in the Children's Welfare Institute since infancy. He has been diagnosed with KTS Syndrome, but it doesn't stop him one bit. He likes to exercise,  run, jump, use the hula hoop, skip, and dance. He likes to play puzzles with his best friend.  He is artistic: he enjoys drawing and origami.  Mr. Handsome is social, polite, and charms everyone that he meets. He has 2 best friends that he enjoys playing with and would do anything for.  

Mr. Handsome was not allowed to attend school prior to this year.  The orphanage director did not allow him outside or in the orphanage school because of his foot differences related to KTS Syndrome. The director was afraid of hurting Mr. Handsome's feet, but he states that he is not in any pain. Red Thread Charities representatives encouraged the director to reconsider,  and Mr. Handsome is now being educated in school!  He loves to help his teacher without being prompted.  He helps the younger children and helps to clean the classroom.  He enjoys writing and counting.  
His agency (CHSFS) is offering a $5000 grant to a qualified family. Additional grant funds may be available as well.
Is there room in your family for this smart young man? From what I have read I have no doubt that he would make a wonderful son and brother.  If you would like more information please contact me.
Check out his vimeo here.

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