Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day

While the month of June may have had more cloudy days than sunny ones, July started off with a bang.

And I'm not talking about the fireworks.  

This weekend, we celebrated our country's independence with all that is summer.  In fact, we managed to incorporate just about every possible stereotypical Fourth of July activity into the three day weekend like it was our job.  

Except sweet corn, I guess.  And parades.  And water balloons.

I've always been a sucker for a good holiday celebration, and now that I'm a mama, it's spiraled out of control.  Someday, I will share with Cruz the meaning of Independence Day, the meaning of what it means to live in this great nation of ours, and the meaning of the perilous fight and dawn's early light.  But for now, I will dress him in red, white, and blue, stick a $0.99 American flag in his little fist, and take pictures of him until I'm blue in the face.  

Cruz loved the Fourth of July.  He gets so excited about everything, waving his little arms up and down, and now, full-on yelling to express his sincere joy in the world around him.  He's at such a fun age right now, so happy and so carefree.  He's always game, always along for the ride, and always ready to party.  

And just as birthdays around our household are celebrated for a week instead of a day, our Independence Day Weekend started on Saturday.  Early Saturday.  

Waiting for his own glass of fresh squeezed orange juice...

We had breakfast at Newton's Cafe, one of my new favorite dining establishments in the Cedar Valley.  You can't go wrong with anything on the menu.  There's Gouda cheese on the Philly, shaved Parmesan on the french fries, and a fresh berry jus on the stuffed french toast. 

After our bellies were full and Cruz's diaper was changed (don't ever think 'we won't need a diaper' before leaving the house), we headed to the Farmer's Market.  I'm not sure if it was due to the holiday weekend or beautiful day outside, but downtown was bustling with people.  We pushed Cruz's umbrella stroller through a sea of people and checked out the abundance of locally grown produce.  I was like a little kid in a toy store, I couldn't help but touch the goods around me.  Milk crates filled to the brim with the biggest basil leaves I've ever seen.  Plastic tubs full of summer squash, leafy green lettuce, and plump red radishes.  Tables of homemade triple berry pie, loaves of fresh bread, and rhubarb coffee cake.  Pots of cotton candy pink Gerber Daisies, purple and gold 'Panther Petunias,' and a pretty little pepper plant that reminded me of Christmas in July with its red and green peppers.  We strolled through the produce and mentally thumbed through our cookbooks for ideas.  And as we pointed, gleamed, and shouted, 'Marinara!' 'Homemade Pizza!' 'Caprese Salad!' to one another, I decided a Saturday Farmer's Market is the perfect way to start a weekend.

Our Saturday morning didn't stop with four arm-fulls of basil, fresh raspberries, summer squash, and a hot pepper plant.  We window-shopped, purchased some festive cupcake decor at Sweet Basil Market, and ended our trip with a little Scratch.  If I didn't know better, I'd say the finale was Cruz Man's favorite part.  

And because a bath just seemed too easy after Cruz's battle with some kiwi strawberry gelato, we decided to soak in the sun at the pool.  Beau even came too, which made it all the more helpful special.  We swam as a family during pool check, and the lifeguard in me came out as I taught Cruz the motor boat game.  We even went under the water, FOUR TIMES, to which Cruz seemed slightly confused, but refreshed.  After blinking his eyes and catching his breath, he face planted the water again in utter fascination.  A fish in the making...  

His hair's getting lighter and his skin's getting darker!

Saturday ended with a nap in the hammock, a couple of grilled steaks, a fresh caprese salad with a balsamic reduction sauce and fresh mozzarella, a visit from Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Taylor, and some good friends, a bonfire, and of course, s'mores.  Cruz fell asleep by the fire as we relaxed, burned Starbuck's junk mail, and made summer bucket lists.  And although we couldn't see them, we drank and licked sticky marshmallow fingers to the sounds of the first Fourth of July fireworks of the season.   

More great things to come, including one festively-clad baby!

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