A tragedy nearby

There was a fatal shooting at a nearby high school today. Two students are dead (one of which was the shooter), and several more are in critical condition. You hear about things like this from time to time in other communities, and of course it’s always terrible, but somehow it feels even worse when it happens so close to home. When you combine the proximity with the fact that we now have children of our own, the whole thing feels even worse. Although I have dealt with a fair amount of loss in my life, none of it compares with what it would be like to be a parent of one of the injured or deceased students. My heart truly goes out to them.

You wish there was a reason, an answer, or even a bright side to look on, but there isn’t. Nothing can be said that can even begin to make sense of such a horrible tragedy. As a parent you wish there was a safe place to take your children, where an act of this nature wasn’t even possible, but unfortunately there is no such place. The fact is, this is the world we now live in. This never happened when I was growing up, and it sickens me to think that this is a reality that my children will have to face as soon as they venture out of the household and into school. When I was a kid we drilled for earthquakes; now they drill for mass murderers that are likely medicated, with access to a variety of guns and weapons. Even at work we now have a protocol for this type of situation and everyone is required to watch training videos on it.

You hear people on social media calling for guns to be outlawed, but I truly don’t think that is the answer. Just because something is outlawed doesn’t mean you won’t have plenty of access to it. Are the parents to blame? What about doctors and psychologists? Is it the fault of society in general, or perhaps the school districts? I have no idea. All I know is that the thought of my children ever being involved or affected by a tragedy like this in any way is too much to bare. After all, even the kids that weren’t physically harmed today will probably be scarred in some way for the rest of their lives. At the very least, their innocence is gone.

I had been planning on writing a post today to talk about the fact that we’re only a week away from vacation and are so looking forward to visiting my Mom and family down in Vegas, but I can’t get this shooting off my mind. Regardless, there isn’t much more I can say to express my sorrow for those affected, or my disgust for the nature of the crime, so it’s probably better to focus on our own personal lives, which have been going very well lately.

Last Sunday we joined our neighbors for what they called an ‘Apple Cider Party.’ We weren’t exactly sure what that meant but decided to make an appearance and see what all the fuss was about. The day before, a few guys from the neighborhood went down to an apple orchard in Sumner and spent 90 minutes filling up an entire truck bed full of apples. Then the following morning we all congregated on one of their driveways to make cider. It was quite the production, with an impressive turnout, and everyone had a great time, as well as a job to do. Kids were keeping busy washing apples, while others were grinding apples, pressing apples, filling bottles with juice, etc. Everyone pitched in a helping hand, and although at times I felt like I was part of a commune, I must admit it was a lot of fun. We had donuts and coffee, plus the Seahawks game was playing, and the juice we made was the best I’ve ever had. Although we had only planned to hang out for about an hour, before we knew it 3 hours had passed by before we were preparing to leave.

Ava probably had the most fun of anyone there, and took her job of washing apples quite seriously. The only task more difficult that relieving her of her post was stripping her down naked in the driveway in an effort to clean things up; apparently she had a little too much apple juice that day and lets just say it really cleaned her out. Since that was more than enough excitement for one day we were all quite content to spend the rest of the day watching football and relaxing at home. As I write this I’m just finishing off our first gallon of apple juice, but don’t worry, there’s another one waiting for us in the freezer.

Both of the girls dealt with a bit of sickness this week but luckily it was short lived in both cases. Elise got another tooth, which lead to a fever and general sense of malaise for an entire day, but she bounced right back the following day. Poor Ava had a really rough night on Monday and of course Jessica was gone at work. She had a fever all night and didn’t want to get out of bed. I went to bed around 10:00 that night and was rudely awakened by Ava at 11:30 when she came into our room crying, climbed up on me while I was asleep, and threw up all over me. I cannot describe to you how disgusting it was, particularly because I was sound asleep and had no idea what was going on. Jessica wasn’t home from work yet and I kinda freaked out. One minute I’m out cold, and the next I’m covered in puke with a feverish child wailing in my face. I didn’t know what to do first, but opted to get Ava some juice with children’s Tylenol in hopes that it would suppress her fever. After getting her settled I dealt with cleaning up as much as possible, stripping the sheets, starting the wash, and cleaning myself up. Luckily Jessica arrived home from work shortly thereafter and I was able to get back to bed in anticipation of a busy day at work. More importantly, whatever Ava had didn’t last long and within 24 hours she was back to her energetic little self.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at work over the past two weeks preparing for a pair of presentations I was giving, and yesterday was the big day where I finally got to get up in front of the room and do my thing. Although I didn’t expect to get nervous, you never know how you’re going to react once you’re actually in that setting. As it turned out everything went extremely well and I couldn’t be happier with how well my presentations were received. I started off doing a 30 minute talk on CSS and CSS Preprocessors, then after someone else did a 30 minute talk, I got back up and did a one hour talk on JavaScript MVC frameworks. These presentations were part of a series of talks being put on by my team throughout the week, and not only was I the only person to do more than one presentation, but my JavaScript presentation, which was the final one of the week, received the largest turnout of all. In addition to presenting to a full room of software engineers, designers, and managers, I was also being filmed and broadcast to a room of similar individuals in our Toronto office. Again, the nerves never hit; there was no quivering voice, no uncomfortable pauses, and no missed beats. I never looked at my speaker notes because I quickly got into a flow and just rolled with it. I was even able to manufacture a few laughs in the midst of an otherwise pretty dry set of topics. The ultimate gratification came when I was approached afterwards by several engineers who gave me enthusiastic comments and feedback. It definitely felt good to get up there and do a good job, and I now find myself looking forward to doing something like this again in the future. It’s still a little hard to believe that I’m only 3.5 years into my career and I’m up in front of a group of Amazon software engineers and managers educating them on web development, but I’ve got the necessary confidence to get up there and own it, all the while doing my best to demonstrate the types of leadership characteristics they’re all looking for.

A week from today we’ll be flying down to Vegas for our vacation and we’re all getting very excited. Even Ava can’t stop talking about it. My Uncle Terry has been doing a ton of work at my Mom’s house in anticipation of our visit, so I can’t wait to see how it’s all turned out. The basic plan we have for now is to make a really nice birthday dinner for my Mom on Friday night, then go out with friends on Saturday night so Nana can have a night at home with her girls. We’re also hoping to go see a movie one night while we’re in town, which is something we don’t get to do very often, meaning that will be another night for Nana to have fun alone with the girls. Not sure what else we’ll be doing but I know its going to be a great time and I’m sure I’ll have lots to write about by the time we get home. This is a big birthday for my Mom and I’m so glad we’ll all be there to celebrate it with her. Hopefully spending it with her granddaughters will be the greatest present of all.

Ava having fun washing apples at the cider party
Ava having fun washing apples at the cider party

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