"When it gets warmer and it rains- and it's not lightning!- you can go out and play in the rain."
This is the promise we have been making to Hope since May. Little did we know it would decide to stop raining in Wisconsin for about two months. The lakes and rivers have been down. All the grass is brown. (Well, except for the lady down the street who is obviously obsessive-compulsive about her lawn.)
Finally last Saturday- rain! It began to pour. It was daytime. It was not lightning. And it was warm. All Hope's needed criteria. She took one look out the window and blurted out, "Can I play in the rain?!?" So we sent her out, Minnie Mouse nightgown and all, and she fulfilled her summer dream. It was adorable and fun and very summer carefree-ish.
Being the typical mama that I am, I made sure I had the digital camera and video camera in hand, and captured precious footage of my three year old running through the rain, splashing in puddles, and laughing. I even enjoyed Violet not enjoying the rain. My husband, parents and I laughed as she would step out wanting to play with her sister, then feeling the wet, aerial assault would wrinkle her nose and run back in the garage.
When Hope announced she was finished, I grabbed a wet child under each arm and wrestled them inside with admonitions not to do anything or touch anything but go straight to the bathtub, which they did.
Fast forward four days...
My in-laws were in town from Ohio and we were heading out the door to watch an aerial stunt show at the country's biggest airplane convention.
"Have you seen the video camera?" I asked my husband.
He hadn't. We searched the places we would normally keep it, then all the other places we might accidentally set it down. Then, backtracking to the previous rainy Saturday, we looked all over the garage. Nowhere.
We left for the stunt show with no video camera, my husband reassuring me, "It will show up." But I had a fear taking root. A fear that I had set the camera on the bumper of the car. A fear that in the chaos of taking two kids in from the rain and giving them a bath, the camera had been left on the car's bumper until one of us drove away with it until it bounced off... who knows where. I wanted to cry- and couldn't. Just a small electronic gadget, and yet, the avenue of preserving my family's memories.
Looking back on my own childhood, my parents will tell you today that one of their regrets is that they never bought a video camera. They still wish they had moving footage of our family's memories. Knowing this, a mini-DVD recorder was something my husband and I sacrificed for when we were expecting our first child. We pinched our pennies and purchased that small electronic gadget... that would enable us to record and save priceless, irreplaceable moments in time.
After a week, we resigned ourselves to the fact that our video camera was lost. Maybe crushed on a road somewhere, maybe in some stranger's hands, but gone nonetheless. I contemplated making a flyer about our lost camera and passing it out around the neighborhood. After all, if the camera had fallen off the car, it couldn't have landed far, right?
Imagine our surprise when my husband received a message on Facebook from a stranger saying, "I think I may have your video camera..." We were instructed to call the police department if the video camera was ours and they would give us the number for the person holding the camera.
Phone calls were placed and returned and I was overjoyed Friday when a woman came to our door holding our camera! She and her husband had been driving a mile from our home when they saw the camera laying the road.
Knowing nothing about video cameras, they eventually figured out how to watch the enclosed video to see if there were any clues such as us saying our name or a video showing the front of our house. The video of Hope and Violet in the rain showed our front yard, and they spent part of one day driving around the neighborhood where they had found the camera looking for a fire hydrant and large rock matching the ones in our yard from the video. They called the local police department, but no report had been filed. (The thought never even crossed my mind...)
It took a couple of days before the husband of this duo accidentally opened the door to the mini-DVD (knowing nothing about video cameras, this hadn't occurred to them before). Praise God I had written our last name on the disk, as well as the date I put it in the camera. Finally- a clue! They enlisted the help of a family member who was familiar with the internet and Facebook who looked up our last name and discovered my husband- located near where they had found the camera.
What followed was a Facebook message, several phone calls, and a joyous reunion! With a small... electronic... gadget.