Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend

Hey!  I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend.   Can I get real for a minute?  I feel weird doing well wishing regarding Memorial Day weekend at this point.  
It's a little complicated.
I've been working with Veterans Court for quite a few years now (at least 7 or 8).  Prior to working with Veterans Court I understood, of course, that Memorial Day was a holiday meant to commemorate our fallen soldiers.  I even probably took a moment when Memorial Day rolled around to think about our service members who have died for our country in the line of duty.  I felt grateful for their sacrifice, but it was in a sort of abstract way.
In Veterans Court, however, I have worked professionally with veterans (i.e.,  peer mentors, defense attorneys, clinicians, and a judge) and have worked with veterans defendant/participants in our program.  A lot of these guys have been in combat, and quite a few have lost friends in the process.
When Memorial Day rolls around, it's frequently a difficult time for a lot of these guys.  Many of our participants have substance abuse issues, and Memorial Day is frequently a time when relapses occur.  Almost invariably, the drinking or substance abuse doesn't happen at a party or barbecue or whatever.  More often than not, when our vets fall off the wagon on Memorial Day it's because they're at home, isolating, and struggling through feelings of guilt, depression, and sometimes anxiety over memories of fallen friends.
The peer mentors and other vets who are a little father along the path of working through some of their feelings still find Memorial Day to be a sort of difficult day.
I don't think they expect people to sit around and mope on Memorial Day, but the celebration of Memorial Day with retail sales events, for example, can feel a little out of touch to the guys who actually lost friends in combat.
That being said, a bunch of these guys probably go to cook outs.  A day off is a day off!
Anyway, like I said, I don't think anyone is expected to sit around and feel sad all day, but some acknowledgment that the day isn't just another excuse to party is probably a good thing.
A lot of good people have served in the armed forces to protect our country, and we owe it to both the fallen and the living to show a little respect.
End of speech!

Our Memorial Day weekend was pretty good.

Friday night we just ate pizza and chilled out.

My mom and dad have been out of the country in Israel for about two and a half weeks.  They got back on Thursday.  On Saturday we went out to their house to go swimming and to hang out.  Raylan was super excited, and Kiddo was excited, too.  She's also very attached to them at this point.

We went swimming at Bella Mar pool.  Even though it kept threatening to rain, we got lucky, and eventually it cleared up and turned nice.  Later we hung out at Mom and Dad's place.  We got to catch up and hear about the trip.  It was nice.  They fed us a great lunch of salmon burgers, corn, and lot of fruit and salad.

Raylan happily catches up on some Papa time
We stayed out in Steiner Ranch all the way through dinner.  We went to Galaxy Cafe.  They have a nice outside play area.  It was fun!

On Sunday we drove all the way up north to Cedar Park to the Quarry Splash Pad.  Amy had been out there to go to a birthday party a while back and had been talking about it ever since.
It really was the nicest splash pad I've ever seen.
Of course, we got there, and within the first 5 minutes of playing on the splash pad (following a 40 minute drive to get there), Raylan fell and skinned his knee pretty badly.
It was all but inevitable.  Like I said, it was definitely the coolest splash pad that I've ever seen, and I'm 46 years old.  As soon as we wandered out to play in the water, Raylan started running around at full speed on the wet concrete, hooting like a crazy man.  I warned him like 2 or 3 times to slow down and walk, but it was just impossible.  Coolest splash pad ever.  His four year old brain was exploding.
Anyway, there was a sort of wet slap-crunch, the token moment of stunned silence, and then the traditional screaming and crying before and parental hugging.
"Oh, do we need to go home?"
The bravely stammered, hesitant, "No, I want to play..."
Some nice lady gave us a couple of band aids, and we were more or less okay.  We still played a lot more and had a lot of fun.
And we continued to run whenever we weren't thinking better of it.
Which was quite often.

Amy helps Kiddo with the water collectin'

Kiddo and Raylan let me share their snacks during a break

Raylan the daredevil tries to recreate the moment of his spill for Kiddo
We played for quite a while and then drove home.  We ate fast food on the way.

At home there was sleeping for kids.

On Monday, Memorial Day, Mom and Dad came over to watch the kids for a little while.  Amy and I went to the gym and then went out to a grown up lunch.  It was nice.  My folks and the kids went to the park and out to eat, as well.

In the afternoon, I took Raylan to get a haircut.  We got ice cream afterward.

This is as close to a smile as I could get from
Raylan while he was eating ice cream

Later Raylan and Kiddo played in the yard.

Raylan grows tired of Mom and Kiddo's hammock party

Memorial Day pool party

In the evening I went to band practice.  We were all there.  I had a good time.

And that's it!

Have a good week!

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