The 4th of July in Pictures

Our 4th of July is over.

Clearly, because it’s the 7th now.

But I do have pictures.  I have SO MANY PICTURES, in fact, that my words will be very few tonight.

(Cue the collective sigh from the reading audience.)

On the morning of the 4th, when it was still rather early, Sister and I met Carrie at Starbucks, because Carrie had made the long trip from Major Thriving Metropolis in Neighboring State (where they drive fast and wild and pass on curves and have these wicked things called ROUND-ABOUTS) to come visit Small Town.  Because Carrie is as passionate about Starbucks as I am, there really was no other option for our morning rendezvous.

I have a photo of the three of us squished together, but I downloaded it onto my iPhone.  It is not on my big Mac (You’re welcome for THAT shout-out, McDonald’s!) this evening, and to get it onto my big Mac (Again, McDonald’s!), I’d have to first locate the power cord for my phone.  By the time I did that and was distracted by all manner of shiny objects between here and there, the evening will be so late that it’ll be time to take my Centrum Silver and yank my hearing aides out for the day.

So ENVISION the three of us, squished together at Starbucks, sipping beverages.

Naturally, the three of us talked about EVERYTHING, because girls can carry on eighteen different conversations simultaneously.

And then, we loaded up our tribe of children, minus one, who stayed at his grandparents’ house to nap, and we went to the pool.

Here’s the Swim Team, in a group shot.  It’s the boy, and his cousins, L and K, and THEIR COUSIN, Oliver, who happens to belong to Carrie.

For the record, Oliver is sweet enough to steal.

Don’t tell his mother that I actually had those thoughts.

Here’s Miss L, before the Synchronized Swim-Off.

Oh, there was a lifeguard on duty at the pool, alright.

I contemplated faking a drowning, just so I could be rescued.

There were also jumps and perfect-10 cannonballs at the pool.

Little K was pretty stinking cute in his bright green goggles.

The boy did all kinds of swimming.

And he did some snorkeling.

And then the boy taught Oliver how to fill the pool noodles with water and blow, so that they are converted into FOAM SQUIRT GUNS!  Oliver got the biggest kick out of this.

And then, look who woke up!

No, it wasn’t Sister.  She’d been awake for hours already.

It was Baby Kellan, who had been snoozing at his grandparents’ house.  Carrie brought him over, so that he could get his toes in the swimming pool, too.

Of course, I squeezed him and pinched him and smooched his cheek twenty-nine times BEFORE he got in the water!

After Kellan was smothered in my germs because of all the smooches I gave him, Hubs and I hauled the boy out of the pool and we sent him through the shower, because we had more 4th of July fun to have.

We drove twenty miles to Small Mountain Town, USA, where we met up with Hubs’ family.

And SOME OF THE KIDS in our family got haircuts.  Look at Cousin B and Cousin M.

Even Cousin W got his head shaved, because his parents offered him $20 in cold, hard cash to do it.  Last week, he looked like this:

This week, Dub-ya looks like this:

I dramatically announced to Brother that INDEED!  I had a twenty dollar bill for anyone who would cut the boy’s hair, too!

Sadly, the boy is still sporting the long hair.

We had a picnic-style BBQ at Hubs’ parents’ house, where the kids devoured an entire watermelon.

And there may have been some chocolate brownies with chocolate icing, as evidenced by the crime scene on Miss A’s face.  Yes, ma’am.  That’s PURE MILK CHOCOLATE in the corners of her mouth!

Grammy and Papa had three bicycles in their garage.  Unfortunately, the children who are capable of pedaling outnumbered the bikes, so when a trip was planned to the fireworks stand a mile away, SOMEONE didn’t get to go by bike.

This was M’s saddened face, because the three big boys took the bikes and rode across Small Mountain Town to secure more explosives.  Being the younger brother comes with many disadvantages, so I told him that I would adopt him and buy him Legos and a puppy.

He was game, and told me he’d pack a bag and come home with me that very night.

And then Grammy took him to the fireworks stand in her truck, so I think SHE became his favorite girl.

When Grammy returned with four boys and three bikes in her truck, the 4th of July kicked itself into high gear.  We are a family who doesn’t take our freedom to light things on fire for granted.

We follow all safety instructions on Roman Candles, and we bury their tail ends in the dirt, exactly like the instructions tell us to do.

We keep sparklers away from our faces…

…and we only use high-quality smoke bombs.

Of course, the little pond saw some 4th of July action, too, because our tribe of kids discovered that smoke bombs sputter and spin and carry on madly when you throw them into the water!

I think Papa spent the 5th of July fishing 19,000 smoke bomb carcasses out of his pond.

The kids lit all kinds of fun things off on Monday.

And they all had satisfied grins when things exploded JUST RIGHT.

And then B said, “Whoa!  Did you see THAT explosion?!  Did that follow OSHA’s safety standards?”

And M said, “Um, remember how our dads used the OSHA Safety Standards Handbook to start a bonfire with?  And, Dude!  That WAS A GREAT EXPLOSION!”

Of course, Hubs couldn’t just sit still and let the kids light things by themselves.  He was in on the action, too.

The boy and Cousin B, looking cute as ever.  Of course, they look a little mischievous, too.

The boy is exactly seven months older than B is.  They have ALWAYS been the same size, both in height and weight.  But look who just pulled ahead in the height category!  He was a little proud of himself, for sure.

When all the smoke had cleared the air, a little bird stopped by Grammy and Papa’s pond for a drink of water.

Our boy almost managed to catch him!  See him?  Camouflaged in the rocks there?

When evening finally rolled around, Hubs and the boy and I hopped into our Suburban and we joined a bunch of our good friends for a BBQ and tailgating party at a GIANT field here in Small Town, USA.  Approximately 4,000 other carloads of people joined in the festivities.

Most of our evening looked exactly like this:

Sam grilled hot dogs and burgers and steaks, and we all made the rounds of the buffet table.

Repeatedly.

Because listen!

Heather and Tyler made this grape salad that was all stirred together and covered in brown sugar, and the boy and I ate so much of it, we were close to needing a trip to the ER.  It is, hands down, my new favorite food.  I have never tasted anything so utterly perfect in all of my years, and the boy simply moaned and groaned and said, “Wow!  THIS is delicious!”

Eventually Deb rounded up half of our circus load of kids, and she taught everyone how to play a game with the bocce balls.

Emme rocked at the bocce ball game!

I did manage to take a few snapshots at our enormous tailgate party, but listen.  My gut was full of grape salad, and I really just needed a lawn chair to sit in until some of it had digested, so I didn’t take too many pictures at the festivities.

I know!

THAT’S unheard of, especially since I snap more photos than anyone I know.

But Sam did teach me a new trick on my camera, with the light setting, so did practice for a while, and look!

LOOK!

The boy’s good buddy Seth is (Dare I say it?!) SMILING!  No one can ever get Seth to smile in snapshots, but I begged and pleaded and gave him my best sweet face, and he caved for me.  The kid smiled, and I know that Sierra (his sweet mama) will be thrilled when she sees this one, because I think she has exactly two smiling pictures of Seth.

But one of them wasn’t a REAL smile — he just had gas.

Of course, Miss Annie smiles all of the time.  Isn’t she plum sweet?!

The boy and his friend, Jaron, ran around at the party until they were soaked with sweat and red-faced.

And then…

…well, we picked up all the tailgating accessories, and I polished off another (SMALL!) serving of Heather’s grape salad.  And then it was time for the enormous fireworks show, so we all plopped ourselves down in our lawn chairs and ooh-ed and awe-ed and grinned with happiness over the show.

By the time we got home, it was almost (but not quite!) Cinderella’s curfew.

And THAT, people, was how we spent our 4th of July, in less than 1,600 words and 50 snapshots.

Happy Thursday night.

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