Monday, July 7, 2014

A Stars and Stripes Weekend

I have always loved the Fourth of July, but my infatuation with everything red, white, blue, and barbecue hit an all-time high this weekend.  Maybe it was the fact that the 4th was on a Friday or that it was the nicest weather day we've had in weeks. may have had more to do with having a boy and a baby girl to dress in America's finest colors this year.  A girl who just happened to start sitting just in time to look adorable waving (and eating) an American flag.


Oh, what a happy fourth it was.  

I think it may be my favorite holiday.  It may have just surpassed  Christmas.  I love dressing the kids all festive, lining them up on the curb for the annual Shell Rock parade, giving them flags to wave in one hand and bags to house their candy in the other.  I love grandkids on grandparents' laps, those first frooties that hit the pavement, and the familiar sound of the sirens signaling the start of a perfect piece of Americana.  I love streets lined with young and old, little kids on firetrucks and veterans in the back of pick up trucks, all present to celebrate summer and freedom and this country that we are so blessed to call home.  We celebrate with family and friends, hamburgers and hot dogs, fireworks and bug spray, and for one day it seems we set all differences aside and just live richly in this land we all love.  

We started our weekend off with a family night at the ballpark.  Beau and I used to spend lots of nights at Riverfront Stadium and every time we go back, we say the same thing.  Why don't we do this more often?!  It was the perfect night for baseball and for less than $20, we had 2 hours of entertainment, 4 very cold and refreshing summer shandys, 3 hot dogs, 1 bag of popcorn, 1 signed baseball for Cruz, and 5 inflatable wave sticks scored at a hitting machine.  We sat in the front row on the third baseline so Cruz could get up close to the action.  He got his picture taken with Buck, high fived several players, and even got one to throw his tennis ball out on the field for him during an intermission game.  Mila people watched, had her bottle after the fifth, fell asleep in her car seat during the seventh inning stretch, and didn't wake up til morning.  If you haven't hung out at the Riverfront yet this summer, I highly suggest it.  What a great way to spend a summer night.

Friday morning, we packed the car for what looked like a week's vacation and headed down Highway 3.  We joined a caravan of people headed to Shell Rock, Iowa, home of one of the greatest small town festivals around.  Cruz took my advice of waving at all the people in the parade to heart and I'm not sure his hand stopped moving the entire morning.  His mayor wave paid off and the littles scored tootsie rolls for days.

After the parade and our annual pit stop at Aunt Robi's barn, we continued on Highway 3 for Beau's brother's annual Fourth of July barbecue.  Living on a lake makes for the perfect backdrop for all the festivities.  Mila took a three-hour nap, Cruz hit it off with a little girl named Sofie, and I basked in the sun with a blackberry mojito.  Soon, the backyard filled with people and the kitchen filled with food, and we had ourselves an all-American party.  Sparklers and s'mores, pulled pork and potato salad, and fireworks on the lake.  Typically, we are still sweating as the sun sets over Beed's Lake, but this year called for sweatshirts, blankets, and snuggling.  Grandma stayed back with Mila and Cruz and I snuggled in the lawn chair and compared each firework to a superhero.  The green ones were Green Goblin, the yellow were Wolverine, and the red and blue were of course for Spiderman. :)  Cruz fell asleep about fifteen minutes into the show, only after announcing that he was definitely not afraid of the loud ones this year.  

Saturday, we headed to my parents for another barbecue, some swimming, and one big box of sparklers devoured by two little pyros.  I made a red, white, and blue cheesecake trifle that Martha Stewart would claim as her own (that I didn't get a single picture of to prove it!), we sipped Sangrias and Bomb Pop drinks, played baseball, duck duck goose, and flashlight tag in the front yard, and let the kids stay up long past their bedtimes to snuggle together for a movie after killing a box of 36 sparklers.  Mila was a dream all weekend, smiling and snuggling with strangers, eating her carrots and bananas on the driveway at Gabe and Gina's, playing peekaboo with Val, and snuggling up on new beds when she was tired.  She seems to go with the flow no matter where she's at, sleeps when she's tired, and smiles when she's not.  She's an easy baby and it was so fun to have her here this fourth of July.  

And Sunday...we recovered!  With peanut butter jelly sandwiches after church, long naps in the afternoon, and the start of a week of planning and preparation for vacation next week.  We've got all things Disney on the brain and are starting to get giddy.

Hope you all had a wonderful summertime holiday.  Now, onto sweet corn and ripe tomatoes in our garden. :) 

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