Monday, June 11, 2018

Day 1

Day 1

I am awakened by the shrieking and piercing hounds of hell. Or my alarm clock that I forgot to turn off. Even thought that first shriek was hitting hard….how sweet did it feel to shut off the alarm and lay back down. I don’t go over my strategy for the day or wonder how I am going to fit it all in. I am OFF  **CUES THOSE BABY ANGELS**  Every time a teachers reaches summer break, an angel gets its wings. Wrong movie? Wrong book? I think this makes sense cause these Angels are going to need some serious wings to chase these kids. I know. I chased them for 8 months!

Here in our little world we like to play a game called who can sleep the longest. Here is how it works. You wake up, you go back to sleep. First one out of bed loses, The first day of summer Looser.  Always good to start the first day of summer with extra sleep for us and tears for the little ones who physically must jump up because “THE SUN MOMMY!!!!!”

What did our first day of summer look like? Me sweeping down the steps and Scott making eggs and bacon. Running down to mom’s to hold angel face Wes, and then ordered pizza cause….first day of summer and all. Then we go back down to Grammy’s for the kids to continue to play outside until I have to call it. Street lights are on and time to roll.

I only thought about school 3 times and have ALREADY LOST TRACK OF WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK IT IS.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Nightlight

          My eyes snap open, and I see nothing. I see darkness, a black inky storm. My heart begins to pound, and my shoulders tense up. My eyes dart around the room seeing monsters of shadow sliding across my bedroom floor. Is that my breathing or is there something else in the room? My eyes hunt around, desperate for focus. I look up to the ceiling. There is my savior. All I have to do is reach up and click the little switch over. Deep breath. I stand up quickly, flick the switch, and fall back into bed with my eyes tightly closed.

Slowly, I open one eye and then the other. With the warm glow that now fills my bedroom, the tightness in my chest releases. Gone are the shadow creatures as my dresser returns. Rows of sweaters hang from my closet and are no longer grasping for my soul. Deep breath in and out.
My dad and I did this dance every night.  I refused to even go into my bedroom without my nightlight on. Tiny little plastic covered savior. He did not think the light was necessary. He swore that you would not sleep right if there was light in the room. “Your brain needs to know that it is night, and it is time to sleep.” Maybe his brain needed to know that, but my childhood brain wanted no part of this relaxing darkness he spoke of. My brain needed the light.
            Every night I would go to bed with the light on, and at some point he would come up stairs and quietly click it off. Not long after I would wake up and turn it on. Fall asleep and repeat process until the sun came up. Click- click. Click-click. I got my stubborn streak from my dad. He and I would both hold out until the end of time if we thought we were right about something.
            I thought of that little nightlight as I was reading a scripture in the Bible that stuck out to me. “The light shine in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome (understood) it.”  John 1:5  Another translation says the darkness “could not put it out.”  The light in this case being Jesus, the Savior.

            I feel like as long as the light- Jesus- is on- walking with me- I see things differently. No longer am I scared of the shadows of things that are not really there. No longer can I be tormented by what ifs and things unseen. With the light on, I can see the truth. The truth is, I have nothing to be afraid of in the dark. Greater is He who is in me that he who is in the world.
            As long as my light is on, I see things for how they really are. I have been a public school teachers for over 10 years. One of the main things that I have learned is to not always look into the darkness without your light on. Some children carry a lot of darkness on their little shoulders. Pain, fear, abuse, sickness, confusion, and more. Without the light, I can perceive these situations in very different ways. I can be upset and be drug into the darkness myself, or I can turn on the light and see what is real. The light beats back the darkness so we can see the truth.
            He isn’t really mad at me or his math. He is mad at his situation that has caused a never ending cycle of fear and abandonment. She isn’t sobbing because she doesn’t want to get in line. She cries because she feels something was taken from her that she has no power to bring back. When I see what is really happening, I can respond with compassion, guidance, and hope.
            I also live in an area where drug use is rampant. Here the verse of the enemy wanting to “kill, steal, and destroy” is not metaphorical. I understand the pain and the devastation this causes. Again, if I turn on the light, I see things a little differently. I see people self-medicating for anxiety and depression. I see people trying to numbing the pain of their past and the vision of their desolate future. I see people who have been overrun with a chemical dependency that is causing them to destroy and ostracize the very people who reach out to them. People making devastatingly hurtful decisions for both themselves and those that love them in order to escape the pain.
            Such a fine line to walk. I love you, but I will not let you continue on this way. I see the darkness you are immersed in, but I will not sit there with you. I will turn on the light. I will speak truth. I will love you as the Father loves you, stand with you, but not crawl through the dirt with you. I love you too much to not turn on the light.
            Sometimes we do have to let go. But the light helps. It helps us to see what is real and what is not. It helps to talk it out with our Savior to know when I should step in and when I need to step back or out

            I need the Light. I need to be able to see what is real and what is not. I need the light to release my fear and soften my heart. “4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (the darkest valley), I will fear no evil: for you are with me.” Psalm 23:4 I do not have to fear the terror of night (Psalm 91:5) because the Light is with me.  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Never will I fear the darkness.
John 12:35-37 NIV
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.
36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

castles and waves

The tears streamed down her round little face with a look of horror behind her eyes. I panicked and even though I knew it was futile, I actually decided to try and stand in the way of the ocean to stop it. You can imagine that went over well as the waves just swept over me. The white foamy water which she had danced in a couple hours and a few feet ago was now a force of destruction instead of the bringer of joy. The mighty and now evil ocean was destroying her castle, her kingdom.
          Bella and daddy had spent the afternoon building a tower of majesty all afternoon. To the average on looker it would have appeared to only be a moderately impressive sand castle, but to Bella it was her kingdom. They had scraped out a moat with their hands and dug windows with their fingers. Tall peaks graced the top, and Scott had used a stick to make fancy designs. She danced around laughing and singing…that was until the ocean came.
          I didn’t realize she didn’t know that eventually the ocean was coming. There was nothing I could do to stop it. Horror alighted in Scott and I’s face as we watched the waves crash over the kingdom, and my little girl’s face crumple into a river of tears. At once, we promised that we would make her a new castle tomorrow. A bigger one. A better one.  As she balled her little fists up she exclaimed, “Why? The ocean is just going to come again to eat it!” Then she stomped off.
          Later that evening we showed her pictures we had taken of her palace and talked about how we couldn’t have taken it with us when we went home anyway. The fun was in making the castle, and we could start over tomorrow. Although she grudgingly agreed, she still didn’t want to build another castle for the rest of that trip. I don’t if any of us had the emotional stamina for another kingdom being overtaken by the evil Ocean Empire.

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine AND puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the stream rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet, it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. BUT everyone who hears these words of mine and does NOT put them into practice is like a foolish man who build his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash. Matt 7:24-27

          Sand is not a good place for building. Even when the ocean is not attacking, sand grains are irregularly shaped and sharp. When sand is the foundation, the grains sit there loose with voids in between them. Sand cannot compact and will never be a piece of solid earth. Being that a foundations primary function is described as “the natural or prepared ground or base on which some structure rests,” sand does not make the cut as stable. It’s too shifting. Too unstable. Too full of hiding voids.
          The first thing that jumps out in this scripture is that it is directed to “everyone who hears these words of mine.” This is addressed to the church people. The people praising, worshiping, giving the money, teaching the Sunday school classes, and taking notes in their bibles. The church. It’s not like you can claim you never knew. Often….so very often…my second graders and my other children I birthed will say to me “you never told me that. You must be thinking of another kid. If I would have heard you then I would have done it.”
Ahhhh….selective hearing of little blessings. One day I am going to develop some selective hearing. “Oh I didn’t know that you needed that dress cleaned by today? Oh I am sure that you never told me that. Sorry.” This is one of the moments you are talking to your friends and say “yep, I just told her I didn’t hear her ask for me to wash it just like she didn’t hear me ask her to take care of the dogs.” Friends say “DID you say that?” “No, but I could have!”
          We are planted into one of two survivor camps. We all hear the words, what comes next is what separates us. One had heard the Words of the Lord and put them into practice. He was like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The foolish man, the one who did not put the words of God into practice, was the man with a house built on sand.
          Another commonality in the stories is that both houses are standing in the same storm. The Word says “the rain came down, the streams rose, and the wind blew and beat against the house.” This was a storm from all angles. The rain came from the sky in streaks of torrent hitting the top. The streams rose and began to batter the bottom of the structure. As the top and bottom are fighting their own battles, it says the winds blew and beat against the house.
          Jesus loves to tell stories because he knows we are picture people. We need to see it and figure it out. So he gives us this story.
          I picture the rain coming down is from an unresolved sin in my life. It just keeps pounding and pounding. Keeping me up at night. Almost trying to dig through the roof to meet me. The stream that rose could be none other than the strife of debt. A small trickle at first that is now this mighty river that will sweep you away. Circling around your house in the wind that blew and beat against the house, battering nonstop, is a failing marriage, a job you lost, rebellious children, depression, anxiety. It just keeps hitting.
          Both builders heard “these words of mine” and both are experiencing the same storm. Storms are not the “IFS” in life, they are the “WHENS.” What was the deciding factor? The storm windows, the expensive basement draining system, the strong wood and metal shoring up the skeleton of the house. Nope. None of it. It comes back to the beginning.
A safe house must be built on a secure foundation. The purpose of a foundation is to hold up and hold together for the structure above it.  A foundation of sand can roughly hold 1500-3000 pounds per square feet. Rock can support on average 3000- 12,000 pounds per square feet- 4 times as much. Don’t blame the sand. He never asked the coach to be put in this game! He just wants to chill by the ocean, have kids decorate him with toys, castles, and towels. He knows that this isn’t the place to build. But someone didn’t because they heard the word, BUT didn’t put it into practice.
The others who are yet to hear the word are watching. They see two testimonies. Two houses. After all, both men heard. Both go to church. Both are good people and treat others with respect. One took the Word of God and lived it. He mediated on the Word, he looked for ways to bring the kingdom down to earth, and a way to multiply his talents for his master. He acted upon loving his God and actively looked for ways to join with the work.
The second did not. The word was heard. Probably appreciated. Heads nodded and notes taken. However, he did not put them into practice. He would have had what he considered valid reasons. His debt is too high, and his time is to short. We will grow as a family when we have time. I will serve God and look for my place in His world when I have time. When I have the time and money, I will shore up this foundation.
The sky turns dark. There is a heaviness in the air that tells us something is coming. The wind gentle and refreshing at first and then picks up pace. Soon the drizzle turns into streaks of stinging rain and the wind is throwing things in your face. Water surrounds your ankles. You go into your house. The structure that is supposed to protect you in the storm.
When was the moment they realized the sand was wasn’t going to hold? Was it the cracking of the walls and floors as they shifted with their structural weakness?  Was it the shift they felt under their feet? The foundation won’t hold. It is all coming down, and “it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus wasn’t instructing carpentry 101 even though I am certain he is qualified to do so. He was trying to speak to the people about the foundation of their lives. What they stood on and for. He gave them, all of them listening, the answer for survival. Not just how to survive but how to flourish. Hear my words! Put them into practice. Build on the unshakable foundation of God’s trusted and true words.
Shifting and voids. Conditional truths and illusion of beauty. Feelings not vows. Convenience not sacrifice. My wants, my feelings, my expectations, and eventually my failures.
The storm will come. It will bring a hell fury like none you have seen. When you stand on what you know, what will sustained you? Will it hold against the storm? After the destruction of this storm passes, will you still be standing on the firm rock foundation? Or will the ocean of life swept over you claiming your castles and treasures?


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Not a once upon a time

Image result for i choose you
Once there was a little girl in first grade with long red hair who was painfully shy and quiet. On the other side of the church sat a yellow haired, beautiful brown eyed boy whose eyes always danced with laughter. He noticed her in church one day and proudly told his mom “see that girl with the long red hair? I am going to marry her someday!”
On one particular day, the little girl was furious with the mischievous boy. For the rest of CCD, they had to sit silently with their heads down because someone couldn’t behave themselves. The little girl was worried that her teacher was mad at her even if she hadn’t almost ever spoken a word. But the little boy smiled and laughed. He wasn’t worried. He never worried.
One went one direction and the other, another. They both grew up with their share of happiness, sunshine, and rain. As middle school opened up, the girl decided that she wanted to start attending a youth group at the little white church on top of the hill. This weekend the youth group was meeting up with the sister church and going on a hike. The girl and her friends piled into the car and traveled to the other church. As she stood off to the side, twisting her ear ring around and around – a nervous habit that went unnoticed to her by now- she heard laughter. The group seemed to swallow him up as he chuckled and joked. She looked over at him and wished that she could be that. She could be like the sunshine.
            During the hike he came over. She assumed to meet her very pretty friend. His hair was bright yellow and his eye lashed longer than anyone’s she had ever saw. He never introduced himself, and she didn’t know his name. So he became the kid with the “ogre” hands. She remembered looking at his hands and wondering how he got such large hands.
            The story went on. The two finally connected anda friendship of unlikely sorts was formed. Over the next couple of years, he would throw gum in her hair and hide ice cubes in her sleeping bag. Her face would almost crack each time she tried to look sternly at him only to laugh. He dumped her out of a canoe and held her hand when another broke her heart. He made her laugh. She made him smile. Seasons came and went and they grew.
            He would tell the now teenage girl with the now longer red hair that he loved her. She would laugh. He would call her at night, and they would talk until early mornings. She would sing to him and he would tell her loud and outrageous stories just to get her to laugh. One night the ordinary became extraordinary and the simple became complex. They were on the phone. She made him laugh, a feat she was quite proud of since humor wasn’t her strongest point. He laughed and said “I love you!” She smiled and said “I love you too.”
            Silence. As if the world had paused in its rotation to wait. He quietly asked her to repeat that. She shyly whispered back. And in fairy tales, that would be that. But sometimes real life is often stronger and more complex than happily ever after. After all, growing up together was still growing up. Graduation came and the future came barreling upon them. The only thing they were sure of was that they weren’t very sure of anything. But he took his larger than life hand and wrapped them around her small and shaking one. She smiled, and he laughed and they began.
            Today that boy with the bright blond hair shaves his head, but his dark beard brings out his dark eyelashes even more. Her red hair is shorter and she never wears ear rings now, although she still tugs at her ear when she is nervous. Fifteen years ago, she walked down the aisle on the arm of her daddy never as sure of anything as she was of this. He stood at the other end of the aisle, the boy who poured out confidence, and was racked with nerves because he was scared he couldn’t give her all out of life that he felt she deserved. But she smiled. He smiled.
            If this was a fairy tale of “Once upon a time”, here would be the happily ever after. Real life is more complex a thing. Thank God for that. Because in the trials when you look through the tears and feel that hand grab for yours, you know. When he washes your hair for you on the morning of your Dad’s funeral service because you can’t lift your arms, you know. When she won’t let you give up on yourself and tells that boy to stand back up, even if it hurts, you know. You know when he carries you to the bathroom after months of being ill with an unknown cause, and you know when she brings you 3 bags of chocolate chip cookies  after knee surgery.  You know that you have found something special that not everyone is blessed enough to find. You are not perfect and the sighs and the bickering over laundry will come, but you know that you will never be alone. That after all this time, your best friend has become your everything. We are going to make it. You know when you laugh so hard your eyes water and your side splits. You know when he starts to sing in the kitchen and dances you around. You know when she saves the last brownie for you and agrees to sit through another season of your favorite sci-fi series. You know.
            I couldn’t be more grateful and blessed. I love you Scott Alan. Forever and a day.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

All things for Good

Her little face was purple. I was alone. I picked her up and squeezed her to my chest. My throat closed up and the cry I tried to give came out in a gargle. I finally caught my breath and started to scream. Then she started to scream. Her little face became bright red. We sobbed together as I sat on the couch and held her so tight against my chest I thought we could become one. That was the first time I saw my 3 week old Rachel stop breathing.

It continued to happen off and on. But when I took her to the doctors and emergency room she was fine. She giggled and laughed. She was a healthy and beautiful baby. They explained to me that babies sometimes do that when they eat or maybe I was over exaggerating. Finally my doctor gave me a consult to go to Pittsburgh Childrens hospital. At night I would put Rachel in her cuddle U in my bed and sit up and watch her. I was not sleeping. I was watching. Rachel seemed to sleep better when she was slightly propped up, and I could not control my racing mind. What if she stopped breathing while I was asleep? What if I walked out to use the bathroom, and she turned purple again. I didn’t sleep the night before we took Rachel to the hospital. We were on our way before the sun was up, and I remember pulling into a Sheetz to get gas and seeing people walk in and out of the convenience store. They are so lucky I thought. They are not going to watch their daughter stop breathing and leave you.

I have struggled with anxiety my entire life. Even as a very small child I remember episodes where my mother was lovingly reassuring me. I tried to pull it together. When I was a teen, one of my best friends gave me an article talking about generalized anxiety disorder. I have researched and studied it. There are some really awesome things about about being different in the way you process and think. There things that are not so awesome.

Even if you don't deal with anxiety becoming a parent opens a whole new world of possibilities. I remember looking at tiny WIlliam and thinking “how can they just hand him over to me? What of something happens to him? You are just giving me this tiny little human and expecting me to know what to do with him? “

It is hard to imagine that anyone could love my child as much as I do. I would move heaven and hell to make sure they are ok. As parents we would sacrifice money, sleep, comfort, and more for our little mini mes. We don’t even see it as a “sacrifice”. When they are happy, we are happy. When they are hurt, our chest is laying open bleeding. There is no hurt like the hurt you experience when your child is in pain and you can do nothing to help.

I remember reading an article early in my parenting career talking about how God loved our children even more than we do. I will be honest in admitting I scoffed at the idea. That could never be possible. After all, I would never sit idly by and watch my child in pain. If I had the ability to step in and fix it, I would. How could you not?

Sitting in that Sheetz parking lot, I got mad. I got mad at God. I am your child God. This innocent baby in yours. Why aren’t you doing anything? Why am I here? That quiet voice that speaks only to your heart reminded me “she is mine. I will provide.” I scoffed and said then you would fix this! You would not put us in this situation. Again, in a way I can’t explain, I felt quiet and at peace. I felt like he was telling me to be still. Know that He is God. When I walked into that doctor’s office with Rachel clutched to my chest, I did not know where we were heading. I didn’t not know if this would be life threatening or not. If she would recover or not. If she, and in return I, would suffer or not. There was one thing I did know. God loved Rachel. As unfathomable  as it was to me, He loved her more than me. He loved her and I so much, he would allow things to work together for our good. Even if that meant that we and in turn He would suffer.

I have been through things in life I wish I hadn’t. I have received the unexpected phone call that my father was now in heaven. I have struggled through situations in which I was terrified that death would always be the next call for loved ones. I have struggled with heath, professionally and personally wanted to give up. I have said goodbye too soon.

Time and time again I can see God’s hand. I can not see into the future. I can not see where this pain will lead. I am not ashamed in telling you that if I could stop it I would. Even knowing the good things that come out of the suffering. We think (and wish) for more control than we have. The most powerful thing we can do is place them in God’s hand and believe that He will work everything together for their (and our) good.

Rachel had many tests ran. I had to lay her on tables and trust the machines to do their job. I cried and prayed. Rachel was found to be born with a lung infection. Hers, thankfully, would heal. There would hopefully be no lasting damage. Her body would fight , but it would take some time. I cried again.

God, not I, is in control. He loves me and my loved ones more than I could ever imagine. When I place them into his hand, they are safest. It's not that things will always end as I wished for them to. I must believe that GOOD will come. That my Father can see more than I can will be my warrior. My goodness in times of darkness. That in all things He will be there. He loves me enough to suffer through my trials. To allow me to grow and learn. To trust and believe. To grieve and grow.

Time and time again I see God’s hand in my life and the ones I love.I see Him work miracles and I see Him ask me to let go. I know I can't control it all.  I can remember who can and who does.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

keep it simple

My butt is wet and cold, I am sitting on a set of decades old bleachers that have me very carefully  considering  where I am distributing my weight. But......BUT I look past the chain link baseball fence.A group of children, including my own, are out on the field. Screaming with laughter and squealing  in anticipation. These little blinks and flashes are right by their head or on their friends back, or floating away just out of reach. I look out to the ball field and watch the kids, Watch their faces. Surprise! Excitement! Awe! Above them the town firework show has begun. We sit in our yards or on the bleachers. Some with a beer in hand and others holding a sleepy toddler. The beautiful colors and sounds are bursting over our heads right above the spot we have played all day. I hear an Uncle Kent say to his sweet niece "you are going to always remember this. Fireworks at the ball field."

I live in a very small hometown proud place. Born and bred in Bakerton PA, and I couldn't even guess the population. When I was a kid, we had a tradition. On the weekend of the 4th, we would all get together to play softball, drink beer (those of age of course), say hello to neighbors we haven't seen in awhile, grab a hot dog, and keep it simple.

A couple years ago, my brother did not want this tradition, like so many others, to fade quietly into the night. Our summer memories of running down for a hot dog, chasing home run balls, and being so exhausted at the end of the day your mama had to carry you home must go on! So he handles it. He plans it and runs the logistics. We all pitch in and a good time is had.

It rained A LOT this morning. As I stood under the canopy that had betrayed me as water streaked through my hair and ran down across my back, I wanted to go home. I tried my best to save the baked goods, the posters, the 50-50 container. But it rained and rained, But then the sun came out. Guys got brooms, turned sideways tables,the container the keg was suppose to be in, and fought the water off the field. As a team, they laughed, slipped, and slided, but the field was going to hold. We were going to have Dowey Day today.

Newcomers and Old timers, Making major league plays or just beating out that throw. Father and son covered in mud in a play break up gone right. It may look like just a baseball game, but it is a building and binding. Welcoming each other back and being reminded of simple times. Like watching lightening bugs under a color streaked sky. It may look like just a couple innings, but it is weaving connections through families who watch their little ones play together.

This year was particularly close with the tie that binds. A fellow Bakertonian has gone through a rough medical time. We did what we do. All donations and the half of the 50-50 will all go to him. We played ball with this kid, chased fireflies, and probably got in and out of many questionable scraps. Because he is and will always be one of ours. That;s what we do in this little coal town. Take care of our own. Keep it simple, God Bless those who have fought and gone before us to gift us with that right. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

And here he is

My throat burns and squeezes. Blinking rapidly and swallow quickly. I am in the spiral. The ugly cry spiral. I can try to head off or distract myself, but the truth is that I am not going to get past this one without a fight and a lot of ugly tears. My last baby is turning five. One whole handful.
Each of my beautiful babies are perfect. Perfect for the spaces they came to light up in our family. William-the first- we needed this boy in way I still can't fully see. He brought joyful light and humor. He brings compassion and empathy. He is kind and thoughtful beyond his years, and one or twice after too many supernatural episodes (and a bottle of wine) I ask him if he really is an angel sent to watch over us. Trust me- I could warrant full time observation of one of God's finest. He applies his darling smile and spreads out the word mom "mmmoooooommmmmmm" Then he throws this man of an arm over my somehow too soon too small shoulder. He is the first. He was the first to get on the school bus. He was the first I dressed up for a middle school dance. He will be the first I waltz with through giving them wings and letting them go, And yet...
My Rachel was-is -and will always be her own sparkle. I swore she was a boy.Right up to the moment she was delivered I asked Scott if it was a girl. The first of many, many things she has to fill me in on. She is my heart. She is my mini me. My heart. Everyday she forces me to look at things differently. She shows me goodness and danger. She is who I want to be if I ever grow up.
When Luke was born he didn't cry. I panicked and needed to see him The doctor was holding this precious perfect angel with gorgeous big brown eyes, and he was looking at me I took him, Kissed him. He just looked around. If Rachel is a spark, the Luke is the fire. He brings excitement. A new way to do things. A fast more dangerous adrenaline filled way, but a new one yet the same. Luke is the first one to say thank-you.. He runs out and carries groceries before anyone says anything. If Scott needs something shoveled, Luke is there. That's who he is. Waiting and Serving with a soft and tender heart as he every night gives me a hug and says "Good night mommy. I love you."
Bella is my firecracker. She is overflowing with passion and life. She does nothing half way. She laughs big and loves harder. She is loud, proud, and a fighter. That red hair of hers isn't just for show. If she has a point to be made you will know it with an extra dollop of sass and those hands on her hips. When you are with Bella, combing her hair, and listening to her talk, I feel like the student. We call Will and Bella the twins with their vocabulary, insightful ideas, and childlike goodness.
And Nicholas Paul Demi.
He is my heart, I knew he was my last I would feel kick from inside, try to stifle the hick-ups by eating carrots. The last contractions I could count. The last first hello. We scooped each other up and decided we would go out with a bang. Let him cuddle and sleep with me too long. Check  Hold his hand tighter. Laugh at him singing "the wreaking ball" song for the 100th time. I think so. I am going to let him be little for as long as it takes. He is my little buddy. He wants to go with me to the store so I take him. He likes to color in whatever room I am cooking in. He hasn't really discovered the "life" outside mom. As he grows and learns and am I, Saying goodbye to who I have been for a decade. While each accomplishment I will be cheering him on, but still holding my heart. Near or far, he will always be my heart. 
I love you Nicholas Paul more everyday. 
Happy 5th birthday!
Love you to the moon and back,