The 4th of July

We have had a weekend.

A holiday weekend, no less, and it was absolutely perfect.

You may remember that Hubs and I celebrated fifteen years of living in the same house together on Thursday, so he took me out to this posh little spot, where Enzo’s dad grilled us steaks that defined the word perfection. And then we turned around and got to go out to a different posh spot on Saturday night, because it was my dad’s birthday. This was the sort of spot where you could either buy the boy two new video games for his Wii, or you could use that money to buy a single slab of grilled beef, which is commonly referred to as a steak. I guess that you could say that Hubs and I had some five-star dining experiences this weekend.

And then we had a dining experience that was…how do you say this in English? Utterly gross?

On Friday, sandwiched in between the two swanky little restaurant excursions, Hubs came home from work and announced with gusto, “I want a big hot dog for dinner.” We were a hot-dog-less home on Friday, so I offered to zip off to the store and purchase a package of tube steaks (as my dad fondly calls them) for Hubs, but Hubs wouldn’t hear of it. He wanted to go out for a hot dog, but that meant our choices were limited. The Dairy Queen sells a mean dog, but Hubs is currently boycotting the DQ, simply because someone had the audacity to drop an eleven-inch-long blonde hair into his root beer float last summer. He can’t go back. He shudders if the boy even suggests a trip to that ice cream palace. So, with this option being struck down like a giant bolt of lightning had hit it, our other choice was simply this:

The gas station.

And people, we went there. And we got hot dogs. And also nachos. And the boy said this: “I had no idea you could even buy dinner at the gas station!” He has clearly led a sheltered life. Yes, we got our gas station hot dogs and chips with synthetic cheese product poured all over them, and we went to the park.

And I wanted to weep over dinner, because it was so awful.

And that will be the end of our gas station dining experiences for a long stretch of time, I think.

I just wanted to point out, though, that we simply ate at every end of the restaurant spectrum this weekend, and we survived. We had stomach pains on Friday night, but survival was fully accomplished.

Between eating out and getting sick on hot dogs, the boy attended a birthday party on Saturday, and he swam at the golf course with his buddy, Enzo, and we celebrated the fact that my dad turned 31. Again. My mom keeps insisting that she’s still 29, so my dad says, “Since I’m two years older than she is, that makes me 31.”

And since my mom was 23 when she had me, I guess I’m still just 6.

I can live with that.

Our 4th of July dawned rather gloomily, as it was pouring! rain! here! Absolutely pouring. Home Depot sold out of gopher wood and pitch in less than an hour on Sunday morning, and we discovered that we had a leak.

A leak in the ceiling of the boy’s bathroom. In the house that is two years old. Hubs, needless to say, was not in his best circus mood, and he had to use a saw to (gasp!) cut into the Sheetrock in the extra bedroom’s closet, so he could access the leakiness. My nerves are still quaking over that new hole.

Thankfully, Sister’s Husband came over to help, and while the boy and I dashed off to church, the menfolk seemed to get things taken care of.

The boy was a bit depressed all through our church service because of the rain, as he moaned out loud to me, “How am I supposed to blow up fireworks in the rain?”

Eventually, though, it cleared. And the blue skies came out. And we headed off to Small Mountain Town, USA (which is a whopping 20 miles away from Small Town) to see Hubs’ parents, because it is quite legal to touch a live punk to a fuse in Small Mountain Town and listen to the following KABOOM.

The boy wasted absolutely no time getting after it. He and Hubs scoffed at the labels which read, “Children should not ignite fireworks on their own, but should only watch fireworks in the company of a responsible adult.”

There was one word in there that killed us. Responsible. We didn’t have any responsible adults, so we just turned the kids loose with their punks and their explosives, and, thankfully, all their eyeballs are still fully intact. The only serious stress that I felt was when Hubs and the boy decided to tape ten pop bottle rockets together and ignite them all at once. I simply said, “You know, Hubs, there is dumb, and then there is really dumb.”

Before Hubs could even ponder a response, the boy shouted out, “Let’s go with really dumb today, Dad!”

Although the Department of Environmental Quality would have palpitations in their chests, the boy and his cousins decided that throwing brightly colored smoke bombs into the little pond at their grandparents’ house was…well…the bomb. Smoke bombs in water spin. And they make incredible whistling sounds. And also gurgling sounds. And low! It is a spectacle worthy of side-splitting laughter.

Go ahead and say it: Our little pyromaniac is stinking cute!

The boy and his cousins worked diligently at igniting nearly every flammable option that Grammy bought for them. And, people, Grammy bought them a lot of explosives.

Eventually, the boy’s cousin, Miss A, gave up on fireworks, and she told me, “Follow me. I have a present for you.” Her present turned out to be a trek through the woods, where she stopped next to an old trailer made out of a truck bed and said, “This would be a fantastic spot for you to take some pictures of me!” Oh, Miss A! Without you, I would never improve my photography skills! You’re the only one who loves the camera and who doesn’t make icky faces at it! (Please note the successful blurry background here!)

Eventually, Hubs and the boy and I traded Grammy and Papa’s house for a trip to the local polo field, where the giant exhibition of fireworks is put on. It’s an enormous tailgate party, which lasts all afternoon, and we head out every year with about ten carloads’ worth of friends, like Sierra and Karline and Heather.

The kids (there were at least twenty-two of them with us last night!) play. And play. And play. And they sweat. And sweat. And sweat. This is the 4th of July football team. They played so long, I think the final score was 1,000 to 950.

For those who had no real desires to play football, there was dancing. Miss Anna, who is the most wonderful pumpkin ever, was dancing all over the place last night.

Dear Anna, please come live with me. I will buy you a puppy and ten new Barbie dolls, and I will feed you chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Love, Jedi Mama.

Nancy and Sister were at the tailgate party with us. In the wind. Which kept blowing every one’s hair all over the place. But listen, people. We were there for the camaraderie and the friends, and it wasn’t any Grand Hair Competition!

The boy’s cousin, L, chilled in the back of a Suburban with a cup of lemonade for a while.

This is Jack. Is he not the cutest little redheaded fellow you’ve ever seen? Oh, I could pinch him a hundred times!

Dear Jack, please come live with me and Anna. I will buy you your own puppy, and you can have soda pop in your sippy cup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Love, Jedi Mama.

The grown-ups (and I use that term very loosely) played some games, too. This is the game where you attempt to throw the metal washer into a board that’s full of holes. It is very difficult to do, and occasionally it makes you want to scream with frustration. This is Sister’s Husband and Nathan (Love the hat, sir!) trying to out-do one another in the Great Washer Toss of 2010.

The boy’s cousin, K, ran the equivalent of fifty-seven miles last night around our cars. He was still smiling after running fifty-seven miles.

Regs and Heather paused for a snapshot together, as we hiked across the massive polo field, through all the cars, and headed to the live band, where Regs danced with four-year-old Caleb. When he started break dancing, Regs called it quits, even though Heather and I loudly cheered her on, especially when Caleb flopped all over the grass and asked her, “Can you dance like this?”

People, if you don’t have a Regs in your life, you need to get one. She brightens every one’s day. She makes everyone laugh. She loves Jesus. She’s a keeper. Heather and I had to hold our sides while we spent the evening chatting with Regan, because we laughed until tears squirted out.

Eventually, Sister’s Husband gave up the washer-throwing game, and he began wrestling with a mob of kids. The entire goal of the game was to see if one hundred children could drag Sister’s Husband to the ground and pin him, and they couldn’t. Sister’s Husband’s ego is still flying high today because of this little fact.

Seven-year-old L told the boy last night, “Hey! You can’t pin me in wrestling, either!” And the boy took that as a serious threat. Before anyone realized what was happening, he opened up a tall can of Whoop, executed a flawless double-leg take-down, and threw the poor little girl to the ground. Thankfully, she smiled through the entire ordeal, even though she was caught quite off guard, and Hubs and I had to remind the boy, “Tackling girls is not really something that we do. Girls are delicate. Go wrestle Uncle Sister’s Husband. He’s not delicate.”

Sister and the boy smiled for the camera together. Sister was trying to pay the boy huge sums of money to rub her back.

As darkness fell, the light-ups came out. We had miniature flashlights to pass out to the kids that clipped onto their fingers. We had glow sticks, in every color, size and shape. And one mama had glow-in-the-dark earrings. It was a novelty, the likes of which none of them had ever seen before. They were passed out to all the little girls, and then the boys wanted in on the action, so they all got just one, because supplies were running low. Our boy was not at all interested in having a glow-in-the-dark earring. He wrinkled his nose and said, “Mom, earrings are for girls, and I am not wearing one, even though Seth has one.”

Just wait until they all come home in high school with an earring dangling out of their earlobes! Thankfully, I don’t think Hubs and I have to worry about this with that boy of ours, because he is completely, 100% anti-earring, and no one could even talk him into clipping one of these fun ones on last night.

We even tried to take a few family pictures last night, but people were racing around everywhere, so we only nabbed a few. Like Nathan and Sierra and part of their gang of kids. (When you have a teenager in your family, he tends to zip off with other teenagers. He probably went to find an earring somewhere.)

Aaron and Deb do not have teenagers, so their little family was all here.

No teenagers for Dave and Missi, either. And look at Meg’s ear. She’s wearing a green glow-in-the-dark earring!

Four and a half hours after we arrived at the festive tailgate party, the fireworks started. We all hauled out chairs and blankets, because the sun had officially set, and the temperature plummeted to Ice.

And look at this next picture, people. It’s of the boy and his friend, Meg. Meg is a honey; Hubs and I adore Meg. However, we were quite surprised when families started lining up their chairs so that everyone could sit down and watch the fireworks, and the boy hauled his chair two cars away, so that he could sit with Meg. In the same chair. And Meggie seemed plum happy to share a chair with him. Right before the big show began, the boy stopped by Hubs’ and my chairs to grab a blanket, and I tried to lay a little guilt on him by saying, “Don’t you want to sit with Mommy, instead of Meg?” And the boy said, “Mom, I’m just over there. And Meg wants me to sit with her.”

July 4, 2010. The first day ever that Mama was traded in for a girl. I hope that this is not the beginning of a trend!

And the fireworks! I can take pictures of explosions in the dark about as well as I can break dance. And, people, my break-dancing skills are worse than Regan’s. I need some lessons on how to achieve great night shots.

And finally, have you ever wondered what happens to nine-year-old boys who spend the entire day attending church, lighting fireworks with their cousins, racing around for four-and-a-half hours at a tailgate party, which ends at an hour very near midnight, and sharing a chair with a girl? Well, they fall asleep in the Suburban exactly three minutes after they get their seatbelt on.

Ahhhh. Hubs and I love this little punk of ours!

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