There was an article circulating around Facebook this morning that rated the state of Iowa as the number one state for being the most "American." It looked at a number of quirky factors in order to come up with their ranking, including the number of MLB baseball players and astronauts born in the state, the number of bald eagles per square mile, and the number of Olympic gold medals won, per capita. The article also attributed our first place finish to some other pride points - we are, of course, the home state to the Field of Dreams itself, we produce more bacon than any other state, and we supply much of the country and world with sweet corn syrup! They end their write up with the quote, "Instead of saying it's as a American as apple pie, we should be saying, it's as American as Iowa.
And if the writers of this great article weren't already convinced we earn the title of most American, I would have invited them along to our 4th of July weekend. It's officially taken the title of my favorite holiday of all, quite possibly because the last two years have been absolutely gorgeous outside, creating the perfect landscape to celebrate all things summer and all things America. It's hometown baseball games with hot dogs wrapped in tin foil, nachos served in helmets, and a fireworks show set to the music of Lee Greenwood following a ninth inning win. It's small town parades in all their red, white, and blue glory, with huge American flags handing from cranes and cars lined up all the way down Highway 3. It's showers of candy being tossed to kids dressed like Uncle Sam, and volunteer firefighters stopping to give our little girl her very own tootsie roll. It's backyard picnics on patchwork quilts, hamburgers grilled to perfection and red barn backdrops for pictures. It's neighborhood cul de sac barbecues, complete with lawn twister, egg races, aluminum Budweiser cans, and watermelon slices, little hands around sparklers, and tailgate seats watching fireworks light up the sky. This was our 4th of July weekend, one of my favorite yet.
We hung out at Riverfront with the Susongs on Friday night. Thanks to late naps after an afternoon at the pool, as well as all of Sam and Molly's loot they kept gifting to the kids during the game, we were able to stay through the ninth AND for the fireworks show afterwards. I'm not sure there is a place more American to watch a fireworks show than a baseball field. Especially with Lee Greenwood serenading us in the background...
We woke up to a big day on Saturday, but not before a festive, Pinterest-inspired breakfast.
The annual 4th of July parade in Shell Rock is one of my favorite summer traditions. We've been going since the kids were babies (and well before that actually) and I love watching them and remembering them from year to year. These four little dolls have four very distinct personalities and it's fun to watch them surface during experiences like this one.
This little firecracker stole our hearts all weekend long. It may have been the three dollar seersucker dress Grandma found I think before Mila was even born, or the way she waved and yelled her famous, "HI!" to follow suit with her brother, or the nostalgia I couldn't help but feel all weekend long, knowing she would only be this way just once, I just couldn't drink her up enough. I love her so much it hurts.
And then there was this parade goer. When we casually told Cruz that in order to get candy he had to wave and say hi to all the floats, let's just say he took that advice to heart. It paid off, in bags full of candy for not just Cruz, but all the kids around him, as I think most people felt obligated to throw some to him! His persistence was adorable and a little annoying toward the end of the parade, but he too grew tired of being friendly and decided to call it good enough before the parade even ended. :)
Hayes gave up on catching candy early after some lady stuck an advertisement for a push up bra in his bag. Poor guy was embarrassed!
One of my favorite moments of the parade was when a young volunteer firefighter, dressed in his overalls and suspenders, stopped for a moment by Mila, knelt down, and gave her her very own tootsie roll. It was so adorable and the photographer in me screams that I didn't snap a picture!
Another year of barn pictures in front of my Aunt Robi's barn after the parade....
We had an easy, impromptu grill out at Mom and Dad's after the parade. The weather was too nice not to spread blankets in the backyard, grill some burgers, and let the kids roll around in the grass for awhile.
I believe that is ranch veggie dip Mila is eating off Papa Merle's plate. She has my grandparents wrapped around her little finger. :)
And then there's this guy. My dad acts like a kid most of the time and his four grand-kids adore him for it! Here, he was throwing them on the blanket, wrapping it up like a burrito, and rolling it across the grass. They were in hysterics, and we were all waiting for one of them to get hurt or for my dad to pull a muscle. No one got hurt, thankfully, but they were all rather wound up by the end of it!
Grandma and her girls...
I love this string of pictures so much. We try all the time to get just the right picture of the four of them, and always come up with what we deem a disaster. But then I always look at them later and find them just right. All to soon, there will be plenty of time for stiff, staged, smile-at-the-camera pictures. The messy hair, messy face, don't sit still, monkey-pile-on-charly pictures are the ones I'll look back on with a smile on my face, I'm sure of it.
to be continued... :)