Things That We Can't Control

I am not even sure where to start.

We got back from Hawaii at 4:30 AM on Sunday. At 7:45 on Saturday we had discovered that Emmy was missing, snuck out of the gate in the back yard in the dark just before Ethan got home from work. By the time we hit San Francisco for a layover, we had a call from the Emergency Animal Hospital to let us know she was there, in pieces. She'd been hit by a car and left on the road, where a highscool student scooped her up in a sleeping bag and called the cops who transported her to the hospital. Pretty much her entire back half had been avulsed (i.e. skinned) and her hip was badly displaced, with major damage to all of the tendons and ligaments but, miraculously, no broken bones. Needless to say, Josh was a wreck. This horrific event was the chaser to the news he received in Hawaii that he didn't get his last hope for a fire job in Eugene. Talk about a bad week. I don't know if being in Hawaii was a flagrant dose of salt in the wound of repeated rejection, or a semi-pleasant distraction from the horror of being Josh. Hawaii is his favorite place, so my hope is that the sunshine absorbed at least some of the kick-in-the-gut for him, but we are home in the gray now, and it isn't pretty. Sleepless nights with a whimpering dog in constant pain, trolling craigslist and every contractor he knows for work, and 3.5 teenagers who can't seem to see past their petty issues about being blocked off Facebook and why their chores are the hardest. Keep in mind these kids got to go to hawaii too. How have I raised such self-involved children? Oh yeah, they're children. This self-absorption is precisely why they have parents - to help them realize that life will never be fair, and rarely be about them.

So this is the Lesson Of The Week, or Month, or so far, Year for the Westons: Some things are beyond our control. Sneaky black dogs, Whiny teenagers, lulls in work, the temperature outside. The only thing we have any power to fix sometimes is how we respond to what we are given, or have created, or stumble into. For example...

Only one day while we were in Hawaii was rainy. It was a warm, balmy rain, and even though that day involved a lot of walking and pain for me, there were several moments that I can recollect stopping to taste the bathwater rain and revel in the complete saturation of ocean air with warm water. I loved it. I guess if the entire week had been rainy, which might have gotten old, but the one day was glorious. The alternative to basking in the rain was despising it for "ruining" our plans, which consisted of taking 9 children with 6 adults on a 2 mile walk in the rain to the Waikiki Aquarium, which was pretty cool but less exciting than the penguin/turtle habitat at the Hilton. The walk was hijacked by a cloudburst that one of the babies insisted would ruin her hair, even though she isn't old enough to talk. The majority of the group holed up in the posh lobby of the Waikiki Westin Resort (we keep telling them that they spelled our name wrong), but I had gotten seperated from the group when I "accidentally" turned into a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for an iced coffee, which incidentally was the second best coffee that I had all week. I kind of needed the break in pace anyway, since my uterus was complaining about every pounding step on the sidewalk and my sister in law was leading with a stroller at a speed walk, lest baby's hair get ruined. I did hurry to catch up, but somehow missed the memo that we were blessing the Westin with our rambunctious hoard and I walked right on past, about three blocks. Obviously, being in pain, when I realized everyone had stopped to get out of the downpour, I couldn't handle the thought of all those extra steps back to the Hotel so I just decided to wait in place, which was conveniently a little collection of surf stores like Billabong and RVCA and stuff. See? It's all about your response. When life hands you lemons (in the form of tropical rain) you go shopping! I will say that if I hadn't ended up in BillaBong I might never have found my really cool new hat, so it was all meant to be. My dad had "accidentally" turned into a Ukelele shop that offered free lessons, and was carefully constructing a schedule for us to make it to every free Ukelele lesson on the Island in one day, so he also got disconnected from the group. Sister Susanna bailed on the barbarian hoard to meet up with me at Billabong, and that left my Josh, who was trying to redeem his apparent uselessness to the world through a babysitting penance that would make the Martyrs proud, with my brother and his wife and all 9 kids. In the Westin. Dripping wet. Obviously my brother and sister in law were preoccupied with fixing baby's hair, and that left Josh with the other 8. I don't know if you have met my sisters kids, but you've probably met mine, and I will leave the rest to your imagination. Or not.

Out of thriftiness or just plain inattention, I had failed to count the diapers we packed for Baby Ava, whom I call baby Livi since she is technically my namesake and I can do whatever I want. I don't know if being at the beach gave her motivation, but before we got half way to the aquarium she had literally peed the ocean into her diaper and I was forced to use the one clean one we had to save the world from drowning. I think I got a hernia just carrying the soggy diaper to the garbage can, which it probably broke. I should stop here and inform you that the reason we had all 8 kids is that my other sister and brother in law, along with my Super Adventurous Mom (I am actually totally proud of her) and Littlest Brother (who is 6'2" and not little) all went parasailing. This is a foolish undertaking in my opinion, since people die parasailing almost every day. Like those sisters in Florida. I would much rather skydive. At least then if you die you REALLY die. Hard. But back to us, the wandering jellyfish of uncontrollable juveniles. Once everybody (except baby with the aversion to precipitation) had decided that it was going to rain all day, they met up with me and Sanna at McDonalds, where we thought we could feed everybody off the dollar menu, which ended up being the $4 menu. So we all ate happy meals since they were $4.79 and came with a gymnast Sponge Bob toy. We made it to the Aquarium, soaking wet, laughing and only a little bit crabby by early afternoon, and saw everything there was to see within about 20 minutes, which is just as long as one can keep my youngest nephew from diving into the seal tank or eating a hermit crab. It was at this point we found out that Parasailing had been rescheduled for the next day, due to inclement weather, and we were ecstatic to host the barbarians once again, but with more diapers. My favorite at the aquarium was the Frog Fish, which has sea monkey hands and is really ugly, but was worth the $78 dollars we spent to get in. Or that's what I will maintain to avoid bitterness. By the time we were done, the sun was out, the rain had stopped, and the kids complained all the way home about being hot. I was in enough pain to justify letting the group (i.e. my josh and 8 kids) go on ahead while my dad and I waited for the rest of the grownups at our happy hour spot, which was conveniently located near 6 Ukelele shops. It's funny to me that this rainy day stands out as one of my favorites. This is probably partially due to the fact I got to shop a little and the fact that I made my Useful Husband ride herd on the kids, so I suffered the least collateral damage, other than the 2,000 lb diaper. But again, life is all about how we respond to things, and while the rain may have ruined Nenna's hair, I think it made the day memorable. And my hair SUPER curly.

I am off today, and get to take poor Emmy to the vet to have drain tubes removed from her incision. It is weird that I am an EMT and this stuff makes me queasy. I think I respond better to human's suffering than dogs. Unfortunately you can't look Emmy in the eye and say "see, this is why we don't play in streets at night when we are small and black" and have it mean anything. To her, this ordeal will always be a horrific, undeserved violation of the protection that we, as her humans, owe her. This is what Josh tortures himself with all day and through the night. But some things, we just can't control. We can only piece it together with as much grace and learning and hope as we can muster. One thing I have learned in my years of guilt driven living is that all of the self-loathing and flaggulation and remorse in the world can't change how things are. In some ways, all of that is an aspect of self-absorption that tries to make the bad situation all about "me" and how awful I am, rather than focusing on the real victim and trying to make it better. I grew up believing that any attention was good attention, even judgement and criticism and the more I drama up my failures the more pats on the head I got from those who were worthy to piously stand over me. I am past all of that now, and I still screw things up bad, but I am usually more interested in fixing them than getting attention for my failures. Usually. I have been working long days since we got back, which is good since my $.50/hr will really help toward the skyrocketing vet bills, but I feel so completely behind on EVERYTHING. Josh is getting the laundry caught up, god bless him, but I need to find an hour or two to unplug and decompress and tie up about a million loose ends, which my frazzled brain can't seem to weave together for anything right now. I think I will start with a shower and pretend that it's warm Hawaiian rain, making my hair curl and my skin clammy and making me stop and think about what is beautiful around me. Or maybe I will just put on my new hat.

me and dad. "resting" (i.e hiding from kids) at the aquarium.

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