Guys’ Trip: Back to School Shopping and Wildlife Refuge

The boys will soon start school. Summer is practically over. This may very well go down as the worst summer of our children’s lives. This year has been marked with so much tragedy, difficulties, and setbacks in our personal and professional lives. For starters, Renee’s father, who was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in October 2020, began to decline. Our little law office experienced a complete turnover in staff. Our oldest required more intensive counseling and removal from school due to unmitigated bullying. Renee was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that limited her physically and required her to be heavily medicated. As for me, my achy back, bum knee, and sciatica, along with the stress in both my profession and private life, largely left me in a deeply depressed, short tempered, and easily agitated.

Still, despite the turmoil, we had big plans for summer. Unfortunately, those plans were cut short. Again, life and tragedy unceremoniously moved into our lives. This time, they decided to be permanent residences. Renee’s dad became bedbound in June, requiring 24-hour care. She, her mother, and brother, along with the help of others, nursed her dad, carrying out one of his last wishes, to die at home. Through their sacrifice, his wish was achieved, passing away in late June, in his own bed. his funeral was held on July 1st.

We woke up on July 2nd realizing that our trajectories are forever altered. His passing left a hole and we found ourselves mired in our swamp of sadness, slowly sinking into the bottomless pit. Even today, was I reflect over the last eight months, I find very few happy memories or highlights worth blogging about. So, our blog has been largely bare. The world is already so full of tragedy. It didn’t seem right to add my own.

But, as always, time waits for no man and here we are, on the precipice of a new school year. Each year, we took a mini-vacation to the largest city near us to do back-to-school shopping and catch a sight or two. Unfortunately, due to our new era we live in, that trip was never planned. Even still, the kids need clothes. The school year will not wait. So, I took the kids to academy to take advantage of sales and the “tax free weekend”.

The boys found all the clothes they need to get the school year started.

After shopping, trying on clothes, and perusing the collection, we worked up quite an appetite. The boys unanimously voted for Chick-fil-a for lunch.

After feeling our bellies, we went to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. The visitor center recently re-opened. The kids having been there since G was in a stroller. So, we moseyed through the visitor center, learning about the history of the refuge as well as the history of the wildlife.

A lonely buffalo basking in the sun.
G is examining the “mountain critters”, including a very big turkey vulture.
The boys are playing the “guess the animal sound” and trying to find the animals amongst the rocks.
The boys are learning about the “under the ground” critters and impressed about the size of the giant centipede.
G is looking across the plains trying to spot the critters.
The wetlands display had a very life-like duck and crane.
Pretty tree standing like a silo among the tall grass.

The boys enjoyed the trip. We listened to comedy, music, discussed games, movies, and other events. The boys laughed and giggled. We looked at the dove on the highline wires and planned our Labor Day dove hunt. At the end of the day, we had a little road trip, got us some back-to-school clothes, and had a fun “Guy trip.”

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