The kids and I flew, while my hubby drove the 15+ hours with our three dogs. Things were a bit hectic with a dozen people under one roof for the week that we overlapped, but that's part of what family time is about.
Our days were filled with hikes, meal prep, baths and carrots for pony, gator rides and time on the lake and in the wading pool. I did my best to run or walk 3 miles every day and adopted an all vegan diet just for one week with my sister in law, who is now a legit vegan after decades as a vegetarian.
But it wasn't the tranquil place it usually is for any of us, and it may be the last time we're all up there together. One thing is for sure; we will forever have a different reaction when we hear gunfire, which is commonplace up there.
As I was flying into SF for a short layover and plane transfer, my husband texted me that his brother had been shot. Immediately, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. He texted back that he was "alright" but because he was with him and driving to the hospital, information was sparse and delayed. I was left wondering where and by whom for quite awhile. In that time, I came up with different scenarios, none of which were accurate. My first thought was that it must've been an accident; that they did it while shooting for target practice. Then, I wondered if maybe they went to town, and someone robbed a store and he was caught in the crossfire. I never expected the truth: That he was on their property, close to the house,when a stray bullet hit him in the stomach. We learned that the riffle shot had already traveled almost a mile, and as a result, stopped just short of piercing his abdominal wall.
Wait, bullets can travel a mile?! Yes.
And then came an unthinkable thought: The same height where he was hit would have been the same height as the heads of the older children. Their property previously seemed so removed and secluded; safe. They are on 83 acres and back up to BLM wilderness. But about a mile away, there is a shooting range, and people who use it who don't know what they're doing, apparently.
The impact that this family event has had on each of us is different, and ripples out with those closest having the greatest impact. But it really says something when even a gun owner such as myself reconsiders her position. Because of this, I wanted to share something that my brother-in-law sent to the family:
Thinking Solutions. I don't want to get on a high horse here, but with so many guns in circulation right now and with the range and power of these guns tending to increase over time, I have been a bit shocked how little most Americans (on both sides of the debate) know about guns. I'm not going to resolve this in an email and there are no easy, quick solutions that will please everyone. But let me suggest two resources to further educate yourself:
My Mom was always looking for the positive, even (especially?) in the negative. I thank God every day that she passed on this outlook to me. She would say that what happened was a blessing in disguise. Prior to this, hearing the gun shots was so commonplace that we never reacted. Now, we go inside and bring the kids. So, this horrible event could play a major role in preventing something much, much worse. In effect, he may have literally taken a bullet for (instead of) the kids.
- First, there's the Pew Research Center on gun policy and this article is a great place to begin. I also think they're pretty balanced and data-based.
- Second, there's Everytown for Gun Safety. Admittedly, they are an advocacy organization and have a point of view. And I know all of you won't agree with them (And that's OK!). Still, it's a great place to learn, check your thinking and take some action if you so choose. (And if you don't, or even if what you find there upsets you--That's fine!) Alright, getting off the horse now and returning to our normal programming...
Bad, unfair, serious things happen to all of us, at some point, unfortunately. If they haven't yet, they will, and that is something that no amount of money or preparation can prevent or control. What we can control is what we do with it; how we let it shape us. Do we let the fear impact our life in a negative way and control us? Or do we try to find beauty for ashes?
Although I would not choose to go through it again, one of the most impactful events in my life was being told I had melanoma. I went to surgery, had scans and an appointment with my oncologist while living with that fear and dread for over a month...only to be told it was a mix-up. While I sometimes think that I would sign up for living forever if it were an option, it is only when we face our mortality and consider the finiteness of our life that it truly begins to hold meaning. I believe that I am a better parent, kinder counselor, more loving spouse and have more faith in God because of this experience. Things that were a big deal to me before my misdiagnosis just roll off, like water on a duck's back. It also helped shed light on who would be there for me if I really had cancer, and who would not. Hopefully in time, this experience can be viewed in a similar way.
After our time in Oregon, we squeezed the last few drops out of summer by camping for three nights at Shaver Lake with our good family friends. A was so excited to play with her friends and have her first camping experience. So was I. Baby C loved waking up and looking out the window of our tent trailer that we rented. "Oooooh" he would say.
Those of you who know my husband know that he does not like camping. And those of you who know him also know that it takes a whole lot of convincing and coercing to get him to do something that he doesn't want to do. But he also has a strong sense of tradition and is more sentimental than anyone I know. As a child, he went with his family to Shaver Lake and so it was an easy sell. It was a great opportunity for A to bond with her friends who are in higher grades at her new school, and for us to get the scoop on what we needed to know from their Mom who is a teacher there. When asked if she preferred our five star hotel in Austria with a view of the Salzach or camping, she enthusiastically answered "Camping!"
We drove home on Thursday and that Saturday was C's first birthday party, so I didn't have too much time to prepare. I had coordinated a lot while up in Oregon, and put together some of it right before we left. His theme was "Time Flies" and because I couldn't find any entertainment along those lines, I went with a magician.
Well, I did call about having a zip line installed behind our house, but the $5,500 price tag was a bit beyond our budget!
The magician was awesome! Although C is too young to know what was going on, the entertainment was perfect for the older friends, who sat mesmerized for close to an hour. He's based in LA and you can find out more about him here.
|Can you guess who my husband is?|
That Monday, I was back to work, while the kids and hubby had an extra week before they started. We were all a bit apprehensive about getting up early and on time with two different locations to drop the kids off at. It was surprisingly smooth. A few weeks in, and A has wanted to go every day. She will sometimes ask "How many days until we have a break?" like she did on the Tuesday morning of her very first week.
At a year old, C started daycare for the very first time, at the same place A used to go to. He didn't cry at drop off for the first two days, then clung to me like a koala bear and cried for about 5 days, which was tough. It's so hard to leave your kids when they are crying and want you, but my guilt was assuaged remembering that my mom was a stay at home mom who still chose to put me in pre-school because I wanted to go, and to prepare me for kindergarten. After those 5 days, he didn't mind going at all, often leaning to get down and play as I passed him off to the worker.
My husband and I alternate days of dropping off and picking up. So far, we haven't forgotten either child, although I did show up at daycare the other day only to learn that he had already picked big man up, and I mis-read his text.
I'm loving being back to work; wearing clothes that aren't just for working out and having uninterrupted conversations with adults. I have a new boss, who is amazing with a super-positive attitude, which sets the tone for the day. I miss the kids like crazy, of course, but I am so fortunate to have a career that I love!
I know that this is going to be an amazing year, with so much growth and change in store!
|He is such a sweet soul.|