The 4th Of July, 2013. (Alternately Entitled: Great Big Redneck Dinner.)

Do you know what’s over and done with?

The 4th of July weekend.  And reading about it now — on the 9th of July — is sort of like reading last week’s weather report.  Nobody really cares any more what we did to celebrate America’s independence, because WE’RE MOVING ALONG WITH OUR LIVES, HAROLD, AND WE ARE THROWING OUT THE OLD NEWSPAPERS.  SHUFFLE ALONG, SON.

Which is something that I actually did yesterday, because listen to me.  My parents buy the Small Town Press, and a little paper boy delivers it straight to their mailbox, day in and day out, in the sunshine and the hail and the wind and the tsunamis.  After they’ve read it, and after my dad has meticulously folded it back up, Mam and Pa give US the newspapers to read, because we’re all about recycling and saving money here.

Except not, because I just threw two glass jars into the trashcan today, and I didn’t even feel an ounce of remorse.

But yesterday, I looked at my stack of newspapers which I had neglected, and I got right down to the business of reading them all, so that I could end the circle of recycling and throw them away.

In the garbage.

Because I’m a recycling sinner of the worst kind.

Please don’t judge me.

I did learn, though, that there was a delightful little play in town TWO WEEKS AGO, which I would have liked to have seen, but that’s the sorry price a girl pays for not getting to the news in a timely manner.

It was exactly the same feeling I had one day last week, when I found a 25% OFF OF YOUR ENTIRE ORDER coupon for Gymboree in my kitchen drawer, and then discovered that it had expired three days earlier.

Anyway.

Our 4th of July weekend went smashingly well.

That morning, to cheer for the fact that our brave forefathers broke free from England all those years ago, I had chai tea in the park with Sister, Carrie and Lindsay.  (Yes.  Carrie was here from Major Thriving Metropolis, and Lindsay was in town from Texas, and you’ll never believe this, but that girl and her husband DROVE from the Lone Star State, with two toddlers restrained in five-point harnesses.  I felt like we should throw some confetti, but we didn’t.  Even though I disregard the code to reduce, reuse and recycle, I flat-out draw the line at littering a public park with bits of colored paper strewn everywhere.)

Here we are, post chai tea consumption, which means we had our party on.

IMG_4711_resizedAnd the answer is YES.  It really does look like Lindsay is grabbing at Sister’s Victoria’s Secret, but really?  We’re all family.

Because these girls?  Well.  They are the very girls who married the three rotten neighbor boys that Sister and I grew up with.  They were the boys who threw snowballs at us… who shot  pop bottle rockets off at us… and who left ham sandwiches with mayonnaise under the backseats of our cars in the dead heat of summer.  I had suspected that God had planned those boys’ lives out to marry icky women, who wore pink foam rollers in their hair to Walmart and chain smoked Virginia Slims while watching All My Children every day, because they deserved some retribution for the way they terrorized Sister and me.

And, if you’re recalling things, Sister turned traitor and married the oldest neighbor boy, which meant that I was stuck with him AS FAMILY forever and ever, amen.

Because of God’s great love and mercy for us all… even sinners who hit girls in the face with icy snowballs… the remaining two brothers (Keith and Jeff) met fine and upstanding girls who are seriously BUCKETS OF FUN.  I adore those girls.

Well played, Jesus; well played.

We sort of lost track of the time in the park, what with us HAVING NO CHILDREN TO ATTEND TO, so we talked for a couple of hours.

Or very possibly it was three hours.  All I know is that we’d still be talking if Carrie hadn’t needed a ladies’ room something fierce.  We had to break up our little sorority party, because the porta-potties in the area weren’t acceptable.

So that wrapped up the morning of the 4th of July.  Sister, Carrie and Lindsay went to their mother-in-law’s house for a barbecue, and that woman was plum dadgum happy to have all three of her boys and their families back under her roof for a few days.

Hubs and I dashed out to his parents’ house in Small Mountain Town, where we met up with Brother and his family.  The cousins all lit off fireworks, because it’s what boys do.  Exploding things and burning things is a love language that I will never understand.

And…

…I took exactly zero snapshots.

I know.  I’m already feeling the talons of regret.  I don’t know what happened, except I encounter a delicious bacon burger with cheese, hot off the grill, and I forgot all about the fact that my camera was sitting nearby.

Until Thing 2 ate six Oreo cookies, that is.

(And don’t judge us for that, either.  It was a holiday, and Cousin M likes the outsides of Oreos, but he has this aversion to the goop inside of an Oreo.  His solution was to twist them apart and funnel twelve half-cookies, complete with DOUBLE STUFF FROSTING, straight at Thing 2, who happily accepted them.)

IMG_6338_resized IMG_6340_resized IMG_6342_resized IMG_6346_resized(Dear Carrie… Yes, that’s a hand-me-down shirt, straight from your family.  I have Tide, and it looks as good as new now.  One of my spiritual gifts is apparently removing Oreo smear from fabric.) 

The rain eventually came down on the 4th of July and forced the boy to quit lighting things on fire.  We drove home in a downpour that would have made Noah exclaim, “This seems like a rather big rain…”

On the morning of the 5th, Thing 2 let us know that he had an ear infection.  I mean, why not, what with it being the holiday weekend and all.  We saw our pediatrician, who prescribed a nice shot of antibiotics in his thigh.

And THIS is how our boys spent the rest of Friday:

IMG_6349_resizedThe boy didn’t even change out of his pajamas on Friday, and honestly?  I would have stayed in mine all day long, too, if a trip to the pediatrician wasn’t on the agenda.

Unlike the wives I thought Sister’s Husband, Keith and Jeffrey should have ended up with, I can’t bring myself to be seen in public in pajama bottoms.

(Even though mine are really cute, what with them being bright red and covered in white sheep and all.)

On Saturday, July 6th, I realized that Thing 2 had actually turned 16 months old THE DAY BEFORE.  On the 5th.  And then I realized that I’d completely spaced that out, because obviously I’m a stellar mother and all.  The poor second child…

So, a day late (which is how I roll), I snapped some photographs of our SIXTEEN MONTH OLD BABY.  My OCD can barely take the fact that these are his sixteen-month snapshots… taken the day AFTER he turned sixteen months old.

IMG_6375_resized IMG_6378_resized IMG_6382_resized IMG_6388_resized IMG_6392_resized IMG_6393_resizedThe poor second child also gets his photo taken in his diaper.  His brother, the first born, would have worn a perfectly-ironed, button-up, Ralph Lauren shirt and coordinating shorts.

I like to call this my RELAXED PHASE OF BEING A MOTHER.  It’s so much better, let me tell you.  My iron and I haven’t spent any quality time together in months.

For lunch on Saturday, we hit a family reunion.

Oh, it was OUR family, because we do draw the line at spontaneously showing up at the reunions of strangers and getting in the buffet line for fried chicken and scalloped potatoes, while we pretend to know Chuck and Lori Beth, who are wearing matching jackets and drove all the way from Tallahassee in their RV.

My dad’s aunt hosts a family reunion for their side of the family ever year.  She’s been doing it since Abraham and Sarah brought Isaac in his Pampers.

The Lord showed His favor on us on Saturday, because someone brought an enormous Chocolate Lasagna, straight off of the Pinterest pages!  There are no words to express my love for this newly found dessert.  I could have put my entire face in the pan and behaved like a hippo at a trough.

Thing 2 did some sliding with Mam at the reunion…

IMG_6358_resized…and then he played in the creek.

IMG_6365_resized IMG_6364_resized IMG_6362_resizedOn the way home, THIS is what happened in our backseat:

IMG_6372_resizedIt was a good thing that the boys rested up, because we had a night of adventure ahead of us.

Do you know those crawfish boils that folks have?  Where they boil up whatever critters they find in the creek beds, along with some potatoes and corn?  And then they dump it all onto tables lined with butcher paper?

Well.

That is what we did on Saturday night.  We hopped on over to Sister’s house, because BIG BOIL FOR DINNER!

(Sadly, there was no Chocolate Lasagna at this party.)

(My heart was saddened.)

IMG_6435_resized IMG_6438_resized IMG_6440_resized IMG_6442_resizedBoiled bottom feeders and starchy vegetables:  It’s what’s for dinner.

The cast of characters include these rapscallions…

…Sister’s Husband, Jeff, Keith and Hubs.

IMG_6486_resizedHubs never threw a snowball in my face when he was seventeen, which is why I picked him to marry.

Plus?  He’s a lot cuter than my three neighbor boys from years gone by.

And then we have the pack of children:

IMG_5357_resizedThere’s a lot of blonde hair in that picture.  Apparently those three rotten neighbor boys make adorable, blonde-headed, well-mannered babies.

They’ve got THAT going for them, at least.

IMG_6530_resizedIMG_6444_resized IMG_6446_resized IMG_6447_resized IMG_6449_resized IMG_6456_resized IMG_6459_resized IMG_6460_resized IMG_6461_resized IMG_6468_resized IMG_6469_resized IMG_6471_resized IMG_6472_resized IMG_6475_resized IMG_6480_resizedThe boy LOVED the boiled crawfish.  I cannot bring myself to even try one, because listen:  I have issues with bones in my meat.  Do you honestly believe that I can deal with a dinner that’s still wearing it’s head and feet and eyeballs?

No, ma’am.  I cannot.

Thankfully, we had headless shrimp and sausage and potatoes and corn in that giant, boiling pot, too.

And… bless her heart!  Sister tried one and came up with the same assumption I had:  Crawfish are a food staple best left to folks on Swamp People.

IMG_5308_resizedHowever, Sister’s fried cornbread is a delicacy that can be served to the best queens.

IMG_6432_resizedI just wish Sister wasn’t always so shy in front of the camera.

IMG_5269_resized IMG_5299_resized IMG_6482_resized IMG_6481_resizedCarrie has the same problem.  Thankfully, she’s in therapy right now, trying to overcome her fear of being photographed.

IMG_6483_resized IMG_6487_resized IMG_6492_resized IMG_6493_resized IMG_6497_resized IMG_6501_resizedAlso, the rain may fall mainly on the plains in Spain, but it also fell all over Small Town, USA during our holiday weekend.

The crawfish boil had to be moved indoors in a great hurry.

IMG_5311

IMG_5314_resizedIMG_6419_resized IMG_6420_resized IMG_6423_resized IMG_6424_resized IMG_6425_resized IMG_6426_resized

IMG_6504_resized IMG_6505_resized IMG_6509_resized IMG_6512_resized IMG_6532_resized IMG_6535_resized IMG_6539_resized IMG_6541_resized IMG_6546_resized IMG_6547_resized IMG_6558_resized IMG_6562_resized IMG_6566_resized IMG_6568_resized IMG_6569_resized IMG_6570_resized IMG_6571_resized IMG_6572_resizedAnd?  This next photo?  When we were all young whippersnappers in our twenties (So… you know… just last week.), Keith had a Dallas Cowboys ball cap that was so ratty, it was held together with duct tape.  His very proper, Southern mama declared that it was an abomination for him to wear it in public, and yet he did.  We were all on the same co-ed softball team one summer, because throwing snowballs at girls paid off for our neighbor boys… they could all throw a very mean softball, and we were the VERY FIRST PLACE TEAM.

Keith insisted that our lucky streak of being TOTALLY UNDEFEATED FOR AN ENTIRE SEASON… our lucky streak that included us winning the league and rocketing to first place in the championship game of the tournament… was all due to his LUCKY HAT… the one that had to be assembled and re-taped every day before he could keep it on his head.

I think he may be going for Round Two in the ratty hat department, as evidenced by the one he wore last Saturday night.

Bless his heart.

IMG_6511_resizedWith the second pot of Boiled Redneck Dinner, Keith showed everyone exactly how difficult it is to stand around outside and watch water reach the perfect boiling temperature.

(People, don’t try this at home.  Keith is a pot-watching, trained professional, and this is a closed backyard.)

IMG_6479_resized IMG_6478_resizedSome of our very refined children used the legs and claws from dead crawfish as toothpicks.

I have no words.

Except…

…THAT IS SO GROSS!

IMG_6514_resized IMG_6515_resizedAnd here’s a contestant for the upcoming season of America’s Next Top Model:

IMG_6523_resizedIMG_6518_resized IMG_6525_resized IMG_6528_resized IMG_6582_resized IMG_6584_resized IMG_6585_resized IMG_6591_resized IMG_6596_resized IMG_6597_resized IMG_6598_resized

And if I ever decide to quit my day job, I think Carrie and I could both work as a FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER.  The Pioneer Woman actually wants us to do some snapshots for her next cookbook.

IMG_5290_resizedEventually, the fireworks came out, because the kind of folks who eat crawfish also light off Roman candles.

With propane torches.

I don’t claim to know any of these people.

(Also?  Well, I can’t claim any of these fireworks snapshots.  Carrie took them all.  I don’t want to plagiarize and try to pass them off as mine.  I don’t recycle soda cans very well, but I do like to give credit where credit is due.)

IMG_5383_resized IMG_5369_resized IMG_5367_resized IMG_5366_resized IMG_5364_resizedAnd THAT, people, was the 6th of July.

Our Sunday was rather laid back and low key, because the Lord declared it should be a day of rest.  Our boys spent a lot of time hanging out together on the deck.

IMG_6605_resized IMG_6606_resized IMG_6611_resized IMG_6614_resized IMG_6628_resized IMG_6630_resized IMG_6637_resizedThing 2 suffered through his first car wreck.  The airbag didn’t deploy, but the car’s frame was built to take a rollover.

He escaped uninjured, and his All State insurance agent was there to pick up the pieces and help him out.

IMG_6650_resized IMG_6651_resized IMG_6653_resized IMG_6654_resized IMG_6655_resizedOf course this goes on Thing 2’s driving record, and he’ll never be able to get a job as a school bus driver.

And with that… we’ve wrapped up our 4th of July weekend.

It was one of the best ones of ever, even if I did bite into a potato and find a wayward antennae to a dead crawfish in my mouth.

Y’all have a happy Tuesday evening.

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