It is warm outside but I close only the screen door, leaving the air conditioner to kick on and off, on and off in a futile fight against summers last breath. Peals of laughter float up from the ravine as the high schoolers roast marshmallows and starbursts over the hot embers of a tired fire. This is the second group to surround it this evening. It was lit hours before for a giggly group of 10 year old girls celebrating with Miss Allie. Hot dogs scorched on one side and chilled on the other bathed in ketchup with a healthy side of chips. Bocce, rope swing, glow sticks, night games - it could have gone on all evening if the high school football game hadn't been canceled on account of lightening, sending the big kids home early to muscle their way into the festivities.
Another fit of laughter after some sort of fireside song/chant. The voices scatter into the foliage and someone yells to warn the others that the search has begun. I find myself wondering how many more times our oldest will have the opportunity to play night games like this. I know it's fleeting. The air conditioner kicks back on, stubborn in its struggle. The crickets are startled into silence for a brief moment and contentment lays her arm gently across my shoulders and settles happily in beside me.
The economics fair (monkey on my back) was an absolute success! And by success I mean we used the least amount of real money to make the largest amount of fake money possible. Which is exactly the opposite of what we did with our first child. What 4 kids and 8 years will teach you.
(Allie running a raffle for a fish complete with fish bowl, food and net.
Swedish fish for sale on the side.)
(She purchased a "super indelible, won't come off 'til you're dead, maybe even longer" glitter tattoo at the economics fair. It's the gift that keeps on giving.)
Field day. The PTA asked for 6th grade volunteers to help run it for the younger grades this year. When I asked Nick if he was going to volunteer he told me that he was scared to because he didn't think the little kids would understand him when he spoke. (My heart breaking) Turns out he DID volunteer and he was one of the 6th graders chosen to run a booth. He was AWESOME! (My heart soaring)
(And then he ate a BBQ flavored worm just in case his bravery was still in question.)
(Little Miss Allie and friends at field day.)
(Notice the burnt cheeks from Field Day. Bad mom.)
When we meet this lady (Paula Swapp) in the eternities she won't be any different than she was here on earth. She has been an absolute angel, a godsend for our family. She welcomed our little non-verbal 5 year old with open arms and loved him through his disconnected phase, his angry phase, his indifferent phase, his embarrassed phase. She has always seen his potential and pushed him to it. I credit her with Nick's ability to be mainstreamed 7 years ago, after everyone else advised us against it. She sees Nick through his Savior's eyes.
(It was an amazingly surreal and teary day)
Nick's 6th grade teacher realized what Nick was capable of and held him to that standard. There was a point in the year that I thought the hours of homework each day might push me two steps past crazy but we persisted and endured to the end. I'll forever be grateful for a teacher that taught us that we can do hard things. At the end of graduation she took Nick by the hands and said "Nick, out of all the kids I've had I'm going to miss you most." The feeling is mutual.
So we did it.
We survived the last 7 crazy days,
the past 7 crazy years.
What a ride.
And just for the record I'm not sure Mr. Matt lives here anymore. His toothbrush is wet from time to time and I his bed is messed up in the mornings. He takes his social life as seriously as he takes honors math. I'm trying to adjust.
And Brayden is either golfing or hanging out with Natalie.
Who just so happens to be graduating from High School
at this very moment.
"Nick, how about dressing up as a knight for the medieval feast?"
"I signed up to be a jester."
"Can you change? I've already borrowed the knight costume from my friend."
"I want to be jester."
"Matt was a knight. Knights are so cool Nick."
"I want to be a jester."
Make an appointment with crazy costume rental lady. Wait 30 minutes past the time she said she'd be there. Enter a huge store that is straight out of one of my nightmares. Bad smells. Bad sights. Wandering. Digging. 90 minutes later we leave with a jester costume.
2 days later . . .
"Are you excited about your jester costume?"
"I'm not going to be a jester anymore. I'm going to be a peasant."
"What? But Nick, we've already rented the jester costume!"
"I know mom. I'm sorry. But I want to be peasant."
Then I discovered this guy on Nick's dresser
and suddenly it all made sense. Legos. They can be so darn persuasive.
Some days I pray for help being cheerful,
or patient, or kind, or smart.
I pray for my friend's sick mother,
for my friend that is moving, for my friend who is conflicted.
I pray for my parents and my niece on their missions.
I pray for family members.
I pray for my children's safety.
I pray that the deer will stop eating the plants in our garden.
In December I prayed that God would help us with a bill.
A really BIG hospital bill,
that our insurance had denied.
As I prayed I had a distinct impression that everything was going to be alright. I knew that God was going to help us. Euphoria and peace replaced fear and anxiety.
For the next 5 months phone calls were made, letters were written, and appeals were submitted. It was laborious and maddening but I was sure of the end result. I had, after all, received an answer to my prayers, hadn't I?
And then we got the final word.
There was no way around it. My sweetheart and I were left to pay a hospital bill in the thousands with no financial help. I called the hospital to set up a payment plan and realized that my heart was peaceful. A burden felt like it was being lifted and I realized in that moment that my prayers were being answered.
We've had 5 months to consider this bill. To roll the amount around in our heads, to say it, to process it. We have have the ability to pay it. We are blessed.
I'm wrapping a present
for Mr. Nick's 12th birthday.
In 45 minutes my brood will be home
and there won't be silence or rest
until Monday morning.
This makes me happy.
My husband is sending me
like we're 17 year olds.
He makes me blush.
The birds are chirping
building nests in our trees,
the warm sun is tempered
by a soft spring breeze.
It moves thru a newly dusted house
that will stay clean
for one more hour.