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Photos and text by Gabrielle.

Well, Hello. Welcome to June’s installment of my random thoughts. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments.

– Like you, I woke up yesterday to the horrific news about the mass-murder in Orlando. Like you, I’m feeling all the feelings. I’m simply heartbroken for the victims and their families. I’m distressed and disturbed that in 2016 there is still so much hate directed at gay people, that coming out is a very dangerous thing, requiring more bravery than I will likely ever have to muster. I’m angry that there are still people in my life who aren’t willing to consider serious gun law reform. I’m sickened as I read the statistics showing plainly how much more gun violence there is in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world.

Like you, I want to take action, but feel daunted and somewhat helpless. What can I do? I talked my kids and wore my rainbow dress yesterday, I made calls to several senators on this list today, I’m looking up local blood drives to see where I can donate this week. Of course, none of it feels like it will ever be enough. What about you? How are you holding up? What do you do when you feel powerless in the face of tragedy?

I know this is a heavy way to start the post. The rest of my random thoughts are much lighter.

– Yesterday, I took Ben Blair and the 5 oldest kids to the airport. They flew to St. George for our annual Cousins Week. I’ve mentioned it before, but basically, any cousins 8 or older are invited to my sister Sara’s house in St. George for a camp of sorts. It’s a week(ish) of unlimited popsicles, movies whenever you’d like, swimming, sugar cereal, staying up late and bonding with cousins. Each day, some structure is built in with outings, crafts or activities. Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents help out with the structured parts and Sara takes care of the rest. Sara has been hosting Cousins Week since 2009.

Something fun this year: There are four new 8-year-olds joining the group!

– Our whole crew will arrive home from Cousins Week late Thursday night. Till then, June and I are the only ones home. It feels so strange. The house is super quiet and of course, June is missing her best friends. Things I promised June we would do this week in an attempt to relieve her broken heart at not being old enough for cousins week: get mani-pedis, buy a box of Frosted Flakes (her favorite sugar cereal), and shop for a “Chinese dress” (I’m not sure what this is, but she saw something in a window in Chinatown last time we were there and has begged for a “Chinese dress” ever since).

I rarely get extended alone time with one of my kids, so I’m really looking forward to our week together, just me and June.

– We leave to France on Monday. That’s right: 1 week to go! I’m a little overwhelmed by the task list ahead of me this week (and by little, I mean very much so), but I have high hopes it’s all doable — especially since most of the family is out of town. It sure makes a big difference. I have literally zero kid events, kid pick up times, or mandatory kid errands till Friday. That opens up a lot of time!

We’re not staying in La Cressonniere while we’re there, but we’ve found a couple of gorgeous places to rent that are in the same general vicinity — and not too far from our cottage.

– Speaking of which, I’m super, super, super excited to work on The Cottage once we get to France. Last week, we got in touch with our architect in France. We’ll meet with him soon after we arrive and see what we can accomplish over the summer. But I have to keep reminding myself not to get my expectations too high — everything takes longer than I think it will. Hah!

As I’ve mentioned, my daydream when 2016 started was that we would have tons of work on the cottage done from January through June. And then, when we arrived this summer, the hope was that we would use our time for finishing work — painting, choosing a fridge and stove, shopping for beds, etc..

Did that happen? Not even close! Oh well. We’ll see what we can manage this summer. One thing I know for sure: It’s always easier to put things in motion when we’re actually on site. And even with the much slower timeline, I still can’t wipe the grin from my face when I think about making improvement to our little piece of French countryside.

– My sister Jordan is about to have her baby, and I won’t be here to help. It is killing me! I’ve never lived close enough to watch the kids or bring dinner before, and now I do, but I’ll be out of the country. Unfortunate travel timing on my part! Do you live near any of your siblings? Have you ever been able to help them when a baby arrived?

– Tomorrow is my birthday. It will be a celebration for two — just me and June. I generally prefer a very low-key birthday, so that’s fine with me. I’m thinking we’ll get the promised mani-pedi.

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I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

P.S. — I post my random thoughts each month. You can find them all here.