A belated Happy Independence Day!
I hope you all had a blessed Independence Day this year and were able to enjoy time spent with family and loved ones. I was telling Scott recently that I think that this may just be my favorite holiday. As a child I would have told you otherwise…I mean who doesn’t love Christmas, right? But while I do love the other major holidays that we celebrate around here, our nation’s independence is just—special.
For me, this holiday has held an extra special place in my heart for the last 12 years. It was 12 years ago, on a beautiful July 4th, that Scott and I first realized that we liked each other as more than just friends. He had hung around my house often enough over the years prior, but only as my brother’s friend (and mine). We had both dated other people prior, and the timing was never right for us to stop and take a second look at one another.
That fateful 4th, I was working at a local ice cream parlor when Scott came in with my family to get ice cream in the morning. He had to go to work shortly after that that day, but was at our family’s party later that afternoon. It was the moment when he came over to say “hi” to me that day that it hit me how much I liked him and how much he meant to me. I’m not sure it was the same moment for him as it was for me, but at some point that day, he had the same realization. The rest, as they say, is history.
But the 4th was always a fun day. Be it sparklers with cousins, bonfires and roasted marshmallows, swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s, or catching fireflies late at night, there was always something magical about this day. And as an adult, that magic is something I want to keep alive. I’ve found that, as an adult, sometimes life looses that magic. We get so bogged down in “Mommy, can I…” and “Is the house clean?” or “Is everybody enjoying themselves?” that it can be easy to forget to have fun.
This year, as with last, we celebrated Independence Day at our house with family and friends. I was over-the-moon excited last year when I realized that we have a fantastic location for celebrating this holiday. When I was growing up, we lived in the country with a large, open yard, a big beautiful willow tree, and my Grandparent’s pond, right out our back door. Grandpa would take us for boat rides, either in the old aluminum boat or the canoe…But life happened and we all moved, including my parents. For years there was no large back yard, no pond, no boat rides…no fireworks (aside from the tiny ground stuff), because nobody had a place that was big enough or had the right features. Here, it’s different. We have a pond, and we even have an old aluminum boat. We have a canoe too! (Though we haven’t used the canoe just yet.) There are willow trees and maple trees and a big open yard to run around in. We can have a large bonfire and set off fireworks, we can stargaze and catch fireflies… I love this place because it’s like being home. I am home, and that offers me so much contentment.
Last week, the kids helped me decorate for Independence Day, and I couldn’t believe how excited they were to help put up decorations and watch me put up some bunting. I think they were most excited about the fake grapes that were in the box that I chose not to put up 🙂
Inside the house, we put up two floral garlands that were decorations from our wedding nearly 10 years ago. They make a perfect addition to our patriotic decor. The flag on the wall is an old project that I did for an art class in high school…intarsia. It looks better in person, but it also didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted it to. It’s supposed to look like a flag blowing in the wind, but now I think it just kind of looks like a broken flag! (For those who don’t know, intarsia is an art form where you design a picture and then cut out all of the different shapes within that picture out of separate pieces of wood. The edges get rounded off, and everything get’s pieced together. I used paint diluted with paint thinner to stain the wood, but some people will only use traditional wood stain.)
The wall hanging is another little work of art by my mother. I actually have another wall hanging that is being used as a table runner on the coffee table, and I have two more red, white and blue table runners from her as well. One is on the dining room table, the other is on top of the dresser-turned-buffet. Red, white, and blue are probably my favorite colors for decorating…
In the bathroom I added a little decoration of a candle with some small flags behind to dress up the crate that is nailed to the wall. Something seasonal is always in there…unless we have toilet paper on display, which is what was in there right before this 🙂
A fun Uncle Sam hangs on the back door to greet everybody. (Nobody uses our front door.)
Miss Lady and I collected wildflowers from the ditch along the road the day before to make up vases for the 4th. We put in little flags to dress them up, and they were then put out on the picnic tables to dress things up.
If you check out my Pinterest board The 4th, you’ll see that I pinned multiple images of geraniums in some kind of vintage container with flags stuck in between…I’ve been wanting to make that happen for some time, so I was happy when I found geraniums on clearance at Walmart the other evening for just $0.66/plant! When you know the plants just need a little love and they’ll still flower for months to come, or they are perennial and will grow next year, it’s hard to pass up a clearance deal like that 🙂 Geraniums won’t overwinter where we live, but they can be dug up and stored in a way so they can be replanted the following year. Dahlia’s are another plant like that around here…though I have yet to do that with either type of plant. (If I had thought ahead, I could have bought seeds months ago, and had many, many more geraniums to put out!) The bucket was from a friend, and has found yet another life at our house, this time as a flower pot. It may not always be a flower pot, but it will be for the summer!
For entertainment, we set up a small “snap set” swimming pool for the kids. We got some of those water balloons where you can fill something like 30+ balloons at one time, but we never got around to using them this year. (We bought them last year, and they were so worth the cost for how quickly they get filled.) I guess we’ll just save them for another day this summer! There were red, white and blue beads for them to make necklaces and bracelets with, crayons and printable activity pages for coloring.
I picked up packs of white t-shirts for the kids, and some red, white, and blue paint, and the kids all made t-shirts to wear for the rest of the day, and they should all be able to wear them still next year.
Last year we let the kids decorate bikes and wagons and they made a “parade” for us. They did that again this year, but in their excitement, didn’t do so much parading as they did bike-riding 🙂 I made “sacks” for sack races last year, which we pulled out again, and there were multiple, impromptu, hilarious looking “races.”
Later in the day, we did boat rides in the old aluminum boat, but because our pond is so mucky and shallow, and our paddles too narrow, we looked more like gondoliers pushing our boat through the pond.
We picnicked underneath the big sugar maple, and for this year, asked our guests to bring their own meat and buns and a dish to pass. We wanted to be able to buy real fireworks this year, and all of that meat would have greatly affected the firework budget. We provided beverages and just asked that if anybody wanted anything special, they bring their own…we provided the grill and gas for cooking.
At about 6:30, we started to move the party back to the new fire pit. The day before, we had set out tiki torches to help light the area at night and to keep the mosquitoes away, and we lined the path back to the house with little solar lights we picked up last year for a party we had. My brother-in-law, two nephews and a niece camped out with us back there that night.
The kids did sparklers as it got dark out, and when the time was right, we did our fireworks show. It worked out pretty nicely….between our fireworks and those of our neighbors, the length of the show was able to be extended and filled in quite a bit. Doodles laughed uncontrollably when the first large firework went off, but some of the nieces and nephews were not quite so excited. By the end of the show, they were all enjoying themselves quite a bit.
Shortly after fireworks ended, those who were not spending the night headed home, and the rest of us enjoyed a campfire and got ready to go to sleep. The older boys (ages 9,8,7, and 6) camped in a tent together and then proceeded to wake us up at the crack of dawn…this after staying up until at least midnight.
The next morning, my brother-in-law cooked us all breakfast over the fire, and my sister came back to join us once her youngest was awake. She and I went for a walk and a run together, and then everybody spent the next couple of hours cleaning up from the party. Once they left for home, it was lunchtime, and then a collective family nap-time. I can definitely feel age catching up with me. I may not be terribly old, but I sure feel like it on nights we stay up late!
Even though it was a lot of work to set up and clean up, we all had a wonderful day, and we were so glad Scott took the day off from work the 5th, because I think we all would have been in terribly rough shape! I still have a bit of clean-up to do in the house…putting away some dishes and decorations, but nothing that will take too long.
A few things to consider if you are throwing a big party next year…watch for clearance items now, keep an eye out for things like tiki torches as they go on sale at the end of the lawn and garden season in stores near you. Don’t feel funny purchasing things now for next year so long as you have the space to store it safely between now and then! And get creative…what red, white or blue items do you have around the house that you can use to decorate for your next party? I’m always amazed at what I can find around my house! Yes, we are Amazon affiliates. For more details, read our disclosure statement in the sidebar (or bottom of the page for mobile).
And a huge thank you to all of those who participated in our June giveaway for the blog and the Facebook giveaway! I was very surprised and happy by the participation that we go. The winner of the Facebook giveaway was Christine Ann, and the winners of our blog giveaway were Irene Ritz, Kathi Rodgers, Tami Minor, and Sue Floyd. I’ll be attempting to make it to the post office to mail their prizes in the next couple of days! We are glad to have had more people find us, and look forward to having more people spread the word 🙂 Thank you, everyone!
How was your Independence Day? Did you do anything special? We love hearing from you, so don’t forget to comment below!
P.S. We found a Monarch caterpillar on the 2nd as we were making preparations for the party. Apparently, we caught it right before the chrysalis stage!