"When you called me to be a Mama, You didn't ask for perfection. But that with every breath, I'd point them to You."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Today we celebrate our Independence Day...

If tomorrow all the things were gone
I'd worked for all my life
And I had to start again
With just my children and my wife
I'd thank my lucky stars
to be living here today
'Cuz the flag still stands for freedom
and they can't take that away...

...Every time I hear this song, it gets me just a little bit. As I headed to the grocery store for some last minute supplies the evening before the 4th, this song came on the radio. And I might have sat in my car in the parking lot for just a little bit longer before heading into the store... just so I could listen a bit more. The older I get, the more I appreciate the fact that God put me here - that I get to raise my family here. Years ago, I nannied for a family that sent their daddy off to Iraq when his little girl was just eight months old. I was there with them when he said goodbye to his baby -- who was barely crawling at the time. And then I was there at the Waterloo airport to welcome him home and to watch him say a new hello to this little girl who had blossomed into a toddler and had started walking in his absence. Those were two amazing moments - memories - that remain imprinted on my heart. We are blessed here.

SO... I planned to make the most of our our extended 4th of July weekend. And we packed about as much into those three days as possible. It started Saturday with the conclusion that we needed an entirely new tub/shower. Our old tub was leaking through a crack at the bottom, and our basement carpet was getting pretty wet. Getting a new tub/shower meant having to take OUT the window in our bathroom to get everything to fit right. So we headed off to Lowe's with Tim and Deanne (Tim the handyman!) -- to pick out our new stuff. After that and a quick stop at convenient care to get Jaden some meds for his nasty cough -- we returned home and started the yard work. I offered to mow the lawn again - for the only the second time ever - and Cody planted some new flowers in the new decoration I found for our deck at a garage sale. I was pretty excited about this purchase...

In addition to all the labor and errands we ran that day, the boys and I spent a lot of time outside. I may be 26 years old... but I still can have fun with some chalk...

Saturday night ended with some cuddle time with the boys... and then some Dairy Queen for Cody and me on the deck after we put them to bed. It was a busy day, but very productive. I love this picture with Brandon's hand up to his face!

Sunday Cody took the boys to Aplington for most of the day so that I could get some stuff done around the house. I had some more errands to run and some baking to do...

"Pretzel Sparklers..."

...and brownie ice cream sandwiches... yum!

When the boys returned Sunday evening we went to work on getting my dad's present ready for his birthday -- which also happens to fall on the 4th of July. Now, the man has everything... and when he wants something, he goes out and buys it himself -- which makes it increasingly harder and harder to find a good gift for him. But he is putting a new bathroom in his basement that will connect with the "Panther Pit" -- so we decided to make him a new purple and gold decoration for that bathroom...

...I wish we had video of us trying to get Brandon to put his hand perfectly on the canvas. Jaden was a pro at it... but Brandon... not so much. It was like wrestling a wild animal.

Monday was the big day -- Independence Day -- party day at our house -- Dad's birthday -- and bathroom remodel day. Some might say we were crazy for remodeling our bathroom the same day we were hosting a party... I just say that we're motivated. Although I did have about an hour-long panic attack early in the day and threatened cancelling the party. This is what our house looked like exactly one hour prior to guests arriving...

...But after a very quick cleanup, it looked more like this...

..A big thanks to Cody and Tim for their hard work, Deanne for helping keep me sane and my parents for watching the boys at their house during the afternoon and giving them a place to nap. It was a team effort.

We had a great "party" at our house filled with swimming, soccer, batting practice, good food, good chatter and laughter and even a few sparklers at the end.

To me, this picture says Iowa. A patriotic swim suit on a John Deere tractor... love it.

Brandon absolutely had a blast. The minute we put him in the pool, he shrieked, splashed, jumped up and down, laughed... he was in and out of that pool for a couple of hours. And even after the party ended and it was time for bed... he was still wanting to party. He is a hoot.

Jaden loves playing with his t-ball set. Thank you James and Cassi for fielding the balls for him. (And yes -- he is a lefty!)

James and Cassi had some fun competitive soccer going on...

Brandon took a break from swimming and jumped into the sand box. He was caked with sand, but the good news was that when he was done in the sand we were able to throw him right back in the pool to rinse him off! ;)

After a long days work remodeling, Cody manned the grill. That's where he's happiest. And we had quite the assortment of meat -- ribs, pork chops, chicken, steak, brats...

...And Tim went to work cutting up the ribs. Those two work pretty well together... ;)

Working in the prosthetics industry, I get a little nervous about the typical 4th of July shenanigans -- sparklers, fire crackers, etc. I know all the warnings, I've heard the horror stories, and I know what can happen. But -- I decided to purchase just a few sparklers for Ella and Jaden to enjoy. I was a little hesitant about it, but you're only a kid once, right?

...We had a great 4th of July. The weather could not have been more perfect, and the company was pretty darn good, too. We feel very thankful that we all live close by so we can enjoy these special days together. Holidays wouldn't be the same without our family! Happy birthday America!

In closing, a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies! It's a little cheesy, but it gives me goosebumps every time... :)
"In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!" 
~ Independence Day