Happy 246th Birthday, USA!

My family and I had a nice weekend celebrating America’s birthday.

My wife had to work Sunday night, so she came home and slept for part of the day before getting up to get ready for the festivities. As I have mentioned in the past, our city puts on a nice little fireworks show that we can watch right from our back yard. Because of this, the Fourth has kind of been “our” holiday.

Most of Sam’s family had planned to be up north at her dad’s cottage for the holiday. Her mom was going to be home with her sister and asked if it would be ok to come over. We had no plans, so we were more than happy to have them come over. It wasn’t long before the rest of her family decided that they were going to come over, too!

After Sam got up and we all got ready, we posed for our annual “Family Fourth of July selfie. I’m sure that we did this long before Ella was born, but they have meant more with her in them. I went back and found the pictures from the years before and put them back to back to back. This year, we forgot to look at the year’s prior so we could all be standing the same way, but we got every in it and looking at the camera. Here is July 4th – 2020, 2021 and 2022 (with the addition of Andrew):

Sam had looked back at her Facebook memories and there was a very cute picture of Ella walking down the sidewalk with a flag in her hand. We tried to recreate it with her this year, and then had AJ try it, too.

She had on the cutest outfit! Her shorts are an American flag!

I love the way Andrew looks here! He was waving the flag as I took the picture.

Sam’s folks brought hot dogs and we cooked them up on the grill. There was fresh pineapple, watermelon, and homemade cookies. Best of all, there was family. My nieces and nephew were over and Ella and Andrew had a blast playing with them. Aunt Emily brought glow necklaces, glow bracelets, and glow sticks so each kid was lit up pretty good.

I fogged the back yard with some spray I had never used before. It was made by Coleman and it is meant for camp grounds. It was great, because I made it through the night without a mosquito bite. I wish it would have repelled the flying beetles that seemed to be all over the place, though.

Around 10, we all gathered up our chairs and went out to the back of the yard to watch the fireworks show. Our town put on about a 30 minute show, which lit up the sky! At first, Ella was loving it. “Wow! Fireworks! Amazing!” she yelled. But after about 10 minutes, she was ready to go in the house. Andrew was ready to be done, too. Sam went inside with them, and the nieces and nephew.

I was actually standing in a bad spot when I took these pictures. You can see the tree in the left of the shot. If you get closer to the end of our back yard, you get a pretty clear view of the entire show.

The hardest part of the night is when the show is over and folks are trying to leave. Our street is full of cars leaving from the show. Eventually, all the family left and Sam and I were able to get the kids down to sleep. It was almost midnight and they were still up!! I don’t think they’ve ever stayed up that late before.

All in all a very nice Fourth with the family. I hope you and yours had a great holiday as well.

Happy Birthday, America!!!

A Perfect Weekend to Celebrate

Saturday I got to spend some time with my wife and celebrate her birthday. I arranged for Nana and Papa to watch the kids so we could have some time together. I am so grateful for them.

I worked Friday night, and when I came home, I went right to bed, so I could catch a few winks before our date day. The time I was asleep was rough for Sam as the kids were a bit crankier than normal. We almost called the whole day off.

Thankfully, all fell into place. We dropped the kids off and went to our favorite steakhouse for lunch. The weather was absolutely perfect, so we asked to eat on the patio. When the greeter walked us out there, I was surprised to see no one else there. We had the whole patio to ourselves for most of the meal!

What a wonderful afternoon! We sat in the sun enjoying conversation and each other. It was so nice to just be together.

Because we got a later start than we had planned (and because showtimes didn’t really line up with our plans), we decided to skip the movies. There were a few things we wanted to do, so we just spent the rest of the time doing them.

We had recently bought a two camera baby monitor from Target. It was a nice one and expensive. We set up the cameras and for whatever reason, one of the two cameras would have trouble connecting. We could see one, then it would go out and we could see the other. It never seemed to be able to show both cameras at the same time. This bothered us because we were on wifi, and no matter where we were, it should connect. There was an app you could download on your phone and you were supposed to be able to check from anywhere. I never really did get that to work. We decided it was best to take it back.

So we walked through Target just looking around and talking. We ended up buying a few things for the kids while we were there. Then we wanted to walk through the Christmas Tree Store. They always have a lot of holiday type stuff. The Red, White and Blue wreath we put on the door for Memorial Day and the 4th of July was looking pretty ragged and faded. We hoped to find something there for the door. We did.

It was getting close to the time we told Sam’s folks we’d be back for the kids, so we jumped back in the car and drove to get them. I held Sam’s hand on the way there and was just so glad to have had a day with her.

When we got the kids loaded up, we started to head home. It was getting close to Andrew’s bedtime. He started to cry a lot in the backseat. Sam crawled over the center console and squeezed between the two car seats and made him a bottle to drink on the way home. She had to be extremely uncomfortable! Once we were home, she had to climb back over the center console to get back in her seat to exit the car. I joked with her that I should have taken video to get her back for posting a video of me trying to hop the fence in our backyard! It was a humorous way to end the night.

Sunday night, Sam had to work. I took the kids out to Sam’s Club to pick up a few things we needed at home. Ella found some beautiful flowers and wanted to get them for mommy. Sam’s loves sunflowers and roses, so it was almost as though she knew exactly which ones to get.

We hoped to get a cake while we were there, but they didn’t have any. On the way home we stopped at the little grocery store around the corner from us. There were three cakes there and Ella picked the one with a sun on it. When I asked the girl at the counter if she could write on it, she asked what it should say, and Ella just spouted off, “It has to say ‘Happy Birthday, Mommy’ on it!” The woman asked Ella what color she wanted it in and she told her it had to be pink.

When we got home, we decided to make mommy a birthday card. I wrote on it and she “colored” in it. I helped both her and Andrew “sign” their names. She was so excited to give it to her this morning.

When Sam got home this morning, we went out to breakfast. This would mark the first time that either one of our children has been in a restaurant to eat! Hard to believe, but it is true. Sam and I prepared for the worst. We expected Ella to be running all over the place and Andrew to just cry through the whole thing. We were surprised at just how well behaved they both were! It was a very nice breakfast.

The restaurant wasn’t too busy when we got there. It was mostly retirees and older couples eating. It was a tad busier when we left. Ella said that she had to say goodbye before we could go. So she stopped in the middle of the aisle and yelled, “Goodbye, friends!” It was priceless. We were getting the kids in the car and the waitress came out to stop me. I thought maybe I paid the wrong bill or something. Nope, she just wanted to give each of the kids a plastic duckie.

Sam needed to head to bed when we got home. She had to work tonight, too. Before she did, she only had one request – a photo with the kids.

This was like the fourth or fifth picture. It’s hard to get Ella to sit still long enough for one now! The first three Andrew was smiling like crazy, but he obviously only had three takes before the smile went away!

What a wonderful weekend to celebrate, Sam! One thing is for sure, I’m gonna be diligent to keep scheduling monthly date days/nights!!

Happy birthday, Sam. I love you now and forever!

A Quiet Fourth & Song Draft Update

How life has changed in only a couple of years! Every 4th of July, our town puts on a fireworks show that is literally in our back yard. We usually have a big back yard BBQ, bonfire, and invite everyone over to watch the fireworks. Last year, the show was cancelled because of Covid. This year, Sam’s family was up at their cottage, my boys were at their cousin’s house, and it was just Sam, Ella and me at home.

Last year, we got some really awesome pictures of Ella in her 4th of July outfit and we made sure to take some again this year. She’s obviously a whole lot busier, but we still got some great shots. The one that was more candid than any of them also got the most “likes” on Facebook. She was literally walking down the sidewalk when I snapped this one:

Sam’s grandma (and Ella’s great grandma) is in her 90’s. We decided to go and visit her in the afternoon. It’s always fun to watch Ella in a new environment. Despite the fact that we brought a huge bag of toys, books, and such for her, she still seems to find things to get into. Her grandma had a 500 or 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that she is working on in her living room. It’s up on a table, but you know that Ella walked right over to it! I was waiting for her to just get one hand on it to pull it all down. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

When we arrived back at home, we made dinner and relaxed. Our plan had been to put Ella down for bed and then head outside to do a bonfire and watch the fireworks. Either Sam and I are getting old, or we are just exhausted, because Ella was in bed around 8:30 and we were both dozing on the couch. Both of us were in bed by 9:15!

Naturally, we were awakened by the fireworks show around 10:15. We probably could have gotten up and watched part of the show, but we decided that we would just listen to the booms from our bed and try to sleep. I’m not sure how I was able to fall asleep in between the bangs and booms, but I did (for a few seconds at a time). It was funny because we’d hear the booms, then we’d hear the echo coming from the baby monitor. We were both happy when the show was over and we were able to actually sleep.

My neighbor said that this year’s show was kind of lame, so I wasn’t sorry we were in bed!

Outside of some great family pictures, this is my favorite from the fourth:

I love the “Color Pop” filter on my phone!

Song Draft Update

Round one of the 2021 Song Draft is in progress. I believe that there are 13 of us participating with 10 rounds of picks. Each of us participating will offer up a pick for each round. You can follow the entire Song Draft at my buddy, Hans’ blog.

https://slicethelife.com

He is posting every pick. I will be posting my song picks here in my blog after he posts mine. My first pick is in and will be posting one week from today. It is a great Detroit oldie that has a neat Motown connection. Watch for it on the 15th…

I have my 10 picks ready and I am excited to be taking part in this Draft event. I hope you enjoy it, too.