Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family · Relationship

Celebrating Thanksgiving

As I look back over the past year, I am thankful for the joy that has unexpectedly found me in growing RyanShines (our pediatric burn survivors and firefighters foundation).

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Catching Courage Salt 2019

It was like a bounty of unlooked-for treasures.

I like to call it “A Year of Heroes with a Thousand Faces!”

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Montgomery Fire Dptmt & Ryan Shines

What’s made the year different for me is that I have found a way through the sizable barrier separating me and firefighters.

I mean, who understands firefighters except firefighters?

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Some favorite firefighters at RSA tower stair climb

But that was not what I was trying to do.

I was working hard to build “trust” between us so that RyanShines could make a positive difference in their lives.

This was my hope, and I’m seeing it grow at little and large fire stations. 

 

I am thankful for their generous open-heartedness, and their willingness to live in a world of death and life to rescue others.

I am thankful that every day and night they risk their lives for strangers. 

Bottom line…I am Thankful.

I am thankful for our pediatric burn survivors.

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Brantson, Cory and James   Catching Courage Salt ’19

I am thankful for the bond that we have forged.

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Lovely, Kaleigh and me

I am inspired by their raw courage, the way they carry themselves, and the way they let us carry them.

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Finally, I am thankful for you, dear readers, for the ways that you encourage us and keep us warm in your prayers.

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Lovely @catchingcourage salt ’19

Thank you for keeping us focused on our mission that  “no pediatric burn survivor be left behind and no firefighter be forgotten.”

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Catching Courage Salt ’19 kids

with love and gratitude,

dawn

 

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel · Hope · Motherhood

A wonderful gift waiting for us in China!

Molly could be weighed against feathers.

She is so little for all the machines surrounding in the burn hospital, giving and taking.

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Shanghai General Hospital , China

She had suffered through God knows how many surgeries, not to mention the endless skin-graphs.

Did I tell you we met her in China at the burn hospital in Bejing?

So many children, so little time!

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Molly

You know the feeling of wanting to take them home with us in.

We brought a big white stuffed dog for Molly.

 

When our Tyler bent down eye-to-eye with Molly he gave her his high-beam smile (a wonderful gift in itself); then, he took the big dog out of it’s red package and handed it to her.

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Tyler

We were all happy-surprised when she reached out on her own to take it from Tyler.

She turned to her mother and hugged her with her dog between them.

Every door in my heart blew open.

I was full of love for Molly, but I had some questions. 

When she leaves here will she be stroller’d out into the great outdoors?

As she grows, will she pedal down neighborhood streets on her two-wheeler? 

Will the other children accept her?

Will she swing around the pole of parking meters?

When she sleeps will she reach out for stars?

I look at her mother and remembered every emotion rocking her heart.

All I want to do is to sweep Molly up and rock her for a solid month-and-a-half.

dawn

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel

Walking back through . . .

Ever been to one of those flea markets where you walk in and are immediately hit with a visual overload?   No matter how hard you try to squeeze it all in, you’re never gonna see it all the first go around.  Here’s what you do:

To take in what you see first, walk around.  Then, reverse your direction.   Walk back through the other way, and you can catch all the things you missed the first time.  Be sure to come back again either alone or with somebody different.  A new face and a new day offers new details!

First time I went to Europe, I was a single girl on the hunt for travel, a fresh outlook on life and a job that could support my wanderlust.  Second time around, I was a married lady.  The man of my dreams and I bought a tiny old VW camper in Germany.

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And for 10 months spent every moment living the dream of being together 24/7, touring cathedrals, monuments, and wonders of the world.  After about 6 months of concentrated love, exhilaration and togetherness, the cathedrals and monuments began looking alike.  Ron and I had blown through most of the 100+ paperbacks we brought from home and while the love was still strong, the togetherness and exhilaration were wearing thin.  But we agreed it would be only a matter of time till we walked back through.

Fast forward 21 years: A little larger camper this time, and a whole lot more patience!

6man circular bike Parier PlatzThis time, we took our three boys and Ryan’s backpack, to be as close to a complete family as humanly possible.

They mocked our romantic photo ops with their own interpretation of true love.

The Balkan experience was a first time walk-through for us all.  Ron and I had previously avoided this ’92 war-torn area and found another route to Greece.

Sunset excellence!

Walking back through is never the same.  Isn’t supposed to be.   Many things change; some things never do.

Kind of like the old saying about which is more important: monuments or footsteps?  The answer is: Footsteps.  A monument only shows how far you got when you stopped.  And footsteps usually promise at least one more new adventure or one more walk-through.

If you’ve already been, go back.  If you haven’t gone, what are you waiting for?

Dawn

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel · Perfecting Dysfunction

1000 Words or Less

Every family trip photograph deserves a comment.  “In 1000 words or less, tell us about this photo.”    A 2-D shot doesn’t begin to tell the story of what’s being said while that photo is being captured. And unless you use descriptions, you cannot see the whole story.  Our videographer’s photo of Tyler and Trenton in the Roman Forum tell the story of how sick the boys got of being photographed.  This was allowable contempt, because the guys are mostly so respectful.

forum boys

Traveling through the marble and bronze antiquities of Rome,  gave us entirely new ways of looking at things, thanks to the boys’ reactions.

The photo below shows Romulus and Remus, twin brothers given credit for the beginnings of Rome, who were supposedly abandoned by their father by the Tiber River around 750 BC.   It is said female wolf raised the boys.  Romulus killed Remus in a family squabble so the city was named for him:  Rome, not Reme.

romulus remusThankfully the boys kept their comments on Romulus/Remus statue to themselves.  But their ‘eye rolls’ and stifled giggles were unforgettable.

funnt sculptureWhen somebody offered to take my photo in front of the Vatican sculpture of the priest Laocoön and His Sons being killed by sea serpents, I overheard this comment: “This is a church.  Why don’t they put some clothes on those things?”

And no matter how Ron and I tried to educate them with interesting facts about Michaelangelo’s 17-foot marble sculpture of David, we still fielded the kid’s hysterical one-liners.

Forum parkThe 1000-words or less photo capture Colton utilizing his keen business skills as he came up with the money-making Roman Forum idea: “Make this grassy area into a Jolly Jump Inflatable Playground for kids to enjoy while the parents walk around looking at the really old stuff.”

Whoever said ‘children should be seen and not heard’ was WRONG!!

Every photo deserves a comment.  1000 words or less.  Or more.  Your choice!

Dawn

 

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family travel · Parenting

The Almafi Acci-dent

My dad can bench press 350.

Nuh, uh!!

Uh Huh!!!

My dad can rip the top off a camper without losing his cool.

. . . . . you win.

When a parent commits to 180 full-time days with your kids touring the world, you open yourself to 5K resolution.  Intense scrutiny.   Errors.  All amplified!  You’re watching your kids every moment; but even scarier, they are watching you!

Ron, the boys, a videographer and I were traveling in a 25’ rental camper, down the very narrow Almafi Coast road. Our camper was sucking wind going uphill and we were  carefully governing our weight going downhill, causing a traffic problem.

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The Italian’s drive small, fast cars for a reason.  They are not known for their patience, nor do they bridal their passions.  We were getting the benefit of horns, hand gestures and passionate verbal assaults. Ron considerately would pull over from time to time, and let the cars behind zoom by before he headed out again.   But this is very difficult on  the Almafi Coast highway which is exactly 2-lanes wide with no shoulders or pull-offs.

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In order to let some very colorful Italians by, Ron pulled off and in haste failed to see the large restaurant awning just above us.  Ripping metal is a sound you never forget.

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 Tyler looked up at what used to be the camper skylight and ceiling and now was clear sky and said: “Oh no. . . dad’s not going to like this.”

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Where there once was an awning and a skylight

Stepping out of the camper to assess the damage, Ron faced an angry restaurant owner screaming in his face and the Almafi Coast Fire Department and Police asking questions.  One lane had closed which allowed the travelers more time to do their drive-by smirk.  And there stood my husband, under the scrutiny of strangers and the watchful eyes of his three boys and wife, in total control and composure as he watched the awning being extracted from the top of his rental camper.

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The roadside restaurant after the Hirn Family visit!

men after accidentSilence after humiliation is salve for the soul.

Ron showed us all his interpretation of true strength.  Nothing you can say to your kids will teach them more than your example.

I like the quote by Dave Willis:  “Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.”

Double-check your behavior.  Your kids are!

Dawn

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Travel

The Book of Magic

We are still steeped in patriotism with the recent memories of our July 4th celebration on Lake Martin.  These memories are fresh for us – reminders that we are part of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.  And we can carry that identity with us in the way of a passport nearly anywhere in the world.

I remember another time shortly after Ron and I were married.  We had begun saving our money almost immediately to travel through Europe.  We set out in a camper we bought in Germany and headed where the wind blew.  Borders back then were tightly monitored.  But we had nothing to fear.  We were young and in love and, if push came to shove, we could charm people into submission with our quick wit and smiles.  (Did I mention we were deluded into thinking love conquers all?)

Dawn Ron early yearsDR campsiteSetting up housekeeping in our used VW Camper.Mom in law visit“Hey “Ron, my mom’s coming for a visit!”

Life for us was smooth until we arrived at the border crossing of Bulgaria.   We thought we had properly followed the traffic directions following the circle-around thing.  But we ended up entering the wrong way and cutting in line.  This ticked off the Bulgarian Border Patrol, and one guard in particular, was suspicious of our German tag.  He approached the car ready for war.  Always playing ‘Miss Congeniality,’ I rolled down my window to give him my best smile and sweetest voice.   This has worked for me before in America.

In Bulgaria, not so much.

This guy went ballistic, and began screaming at me: “Turks!  Turks!”  And with one fell swoop, he reached through the window and knocked the sweet smile right off my face, breaking my glasses and bloodying my temple.

Dawn gloves showing determ

Most women would shed a tear at this point.  But never having been one to back off, I got angry, grabbed his tie and jerked it off him. Ron, unaware of all of this, drove around to the proper position. Within moments, the guards were running to us in our camper, demanding passports and a tie. The moment the passports were produced, the climate changed dramatically.

Attila the Bulgarian Hun was joined by the rest of the guard dripping apologies all over Ron and I. We’d never seen anything like it. “Americans, Americans,” they exclaimed. In no time, we were escorted to ‘the head of the line,’ offered more apologies, muttering that they thought we were Turks, and gently provided us with a bloodless escort across the border.

I’m an American!

I’ve really done nothing to deserve this privilege of carrying the book of magic — the American Passport.  And in addition, I am allowed to vote, own land,  travel freely and say what I think.   Punching isn’t included in my ‘inalienable rights.’

When you travel, you might want to reconsider getting into any fights with border guards.  They don’t like it much when you rip their clothes off.

But if you insist, flash them your Book of Magic first!

Dawn

PS – I apologized and returned Attila’s tie!

Adventure with Engagement AWE · Family

Youneverknowwhatyourgonnaget!

Reeling from a week of company is like coming down from a mountaintop.

So many people squished together in one house, so many personalities, so many agendas.    When we stand back, things look like a mess.  But we know the ‘mess’ is held together by love and that changes the whole atmosphere.

Hirns 4thDo we all get along constantly?  I’m tempted to fill the rest of the blog with hahahahahahah.  But we respect each other and that covers a whole lot of ground.   God put me in the middle of five men, and I’ve got to say I’ve loved being there.

And this week, He has shared with me nieces and cousins, who have come to spend the week of July 4th, bringing with them splashes of drama and color!   I’m reaching way out from what I am used to dealing with men.

I’ve always said I wouldn’t know how to raise a little girl, and I still say “hats off to their mom’s and dads.”  And they probably say the same thing about me with boys!

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But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their magical approaches to life, the red, white and blue decor they added to our boats and our lives.  I’ve enjoyed watching the drama and the comedy, the rehearsed poses which have given me some outstanding photos of these little girls!   (Tell a boy to smile at the camera and you never know what you’re gonna get!)

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Step out of your comfort zone and make memories!  One of the most magnificent things about world travel is ‘youneverknowwhatyoutgonnaget.’  We left the ordinary ‘sameness’ in our lives to embrace people of different cultures, beliefs and lifestyles, in the name of brotherhood, respect and love.   And you cannot get the experience of building relationships from a book or a movie!

Dr. Seuss said it best:  “Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Dawn