Saturday, July 5, 2008

4th of July Weekend

I LOVE the 4th of July! It is my favorite holiday after Christmas ;) This is the second year my kids have been able to REALLY appreciate fireworks-hehe. Last year we went to our Bishop's house for a firework show with the ward that was lots of fun. This year we did our OWN show...in our back yard! We had a family reunion for my mom's side of the family hosted at our house this year. Because the kids and I live with my parents we were around for most of the "GRAND CENTRAL STATION" happenings.

Our celebrating started almost a week before the 4th....my Aunt RaeAnn, Uncle Mark and cousins Bobi and Tami arrived a week early for their traditional week stay with my parents. Since the kids and I were here for the first time this year (last year they couldn't come) we got to have fun with them too. One of the things we did was a Dive-N-Movie. My parents birthdays are the 1st and 2nd of July so we had a combine party for them and watched Johnny Lingo on a big screen outside while we swam and ate cake! The kids even had glow sticks to play with in the pool which made the water look really cool.
Grandma turned 45
& Crappa turned 50!
Aunt RaeAnn used some of the glow sticks to turn Emily into the Statue of Liberty-hehe

The next morning we had a special Mermaid/Merman breakfast outside by the pool. We had fresh fruit, egg cups (that's were you put lunch meat down in a cupcake pan and crack an egg inside it and bake it-SO GOOD), muffins and angle food bits in the shapes of hearts and stars. After breakfast we swam of course! That was the only way to make it a true Mermaid/Merman breakfast.

It was such a beautiful morning and perfect for our special breakfast. How often do you get to eat breakfast in your swim suit?!
The next morning was the 4th!! YEAH!! Because we had everyone in town for the reunion we had arranged all kinds of fun activities starting with breakfast. Janece, Kelly and I were in charge of breakfast. I made waffles with strawberries, cool whip, syrup or honey. Janece made breakfast hash brown casserole served over top fried ham. She also made up sausage patties and bacon. Kelly made sausage gravy served over biscuits. It was a very delicious breakfast!

My family can't seem to get together without getting into some kind of trouble...and the title for this years "thing" that I'm sure will be associated with this reunion for years to come, should be "Levi". Let me preface this for you first. Levi is married to my youngest sister Kelly. Whom I love. But let's face it, out of all the siblings she and I butt heads the most. This is most likely due to the fact that we have very similar personality traits-in some areas. These areas get us into trouble with each other...and other family members as a result. Levi is a big. kid. He loves to have fun and he's good at it. This alone has pushed him to the "Favorite Uncle" spot with my kids. He just has not learned when to quit-for his own good and the good of others. I love to have fun as much as the next person. The key is knowing when and where and not at someone else's expense.

As I mentioned earlier, the 4th is one of my favorite days of the year. I really wanted a family picture with the kids and myself from this day. So the night before I went to WalMart and bought their cheap American T-shirts. I came home and washed them, bathed the kids and gave the boys a hair cut. All was in place for a beautiful family picture with my children and our red, white and blue shirts. :) *this is the place in a movie where the beautiful, peaceful background music is suddenly interrupted-LOL*

Well, we decided to have breakfast outside by the pool. There is much more room outside our house than in for over 25 people-so it made perfect sense. As I mentioned earlier, my family can't get together without getting into a little bit of mischief. Jokes were made about not falling into the pool while eating breakfast and one thing led to another and Levi and Tony (my cousin) ended up in the pool...cell phones and all. Yes the cell phones died. Even after many strange attempts at saving them. ;) LOL I made sure everyone knew that I REALLY wanted to get a picture with my kids after breakfast and then they could join in the "fun" of being thrown into the pool with their clothes on. :) It almost happened.

Just as breakfast was winding down and mins before my perfect family photo was to be taken (haha) Levi knocks kid #1-Topher into the pool. Now, you can imagine I'm not happy. Mom and a few others try to convince me that we can simply throw his clothes into the dryer and in a few mins they'll be dry enough for a picture. As soon as this happened Levi grabbed Sarah-kid #2 and throws her in. Now, I'm MAD. And really-who wouldn't be? I don't know many people who don't get upset when someone does something to deliberately upset them and do EXACTLY what they've asked you NOT to do. So into the house we go to get them some dry clothes. As soon as they are changed and the dryer is started, in comes Emily kid #3, soaking wet. Needless to say-I exploded. I marched outside and brought my two remaining dry children in the house and let Levi know that I was less than thrilled with him.
I refused to give up my "perfect family photo" for the day and so while the kids clothes dried we stayed inside, safely away from Levi and anyone else who might decide that my wishes concerning my children didn't matter. It was actually nice. (Aside from the fact that since breakfast was over everyone was now swimming and having a grand time outside and we could have been out enjoying all the fun by this time too-but we weren't.) Amidst the chaos of all the family being here I had not spent much alone time with the kids. We played video games and read books and watched some of the kids favorite shows together. Then Uncle Ray and Great Grandpa Duff took Kaleb, Christopher, Kayleah and Sarah to buy some firecrackers and American Flags. When they got home the clothes were dry and after re-doing hair...sort-of we took our photo. It is less than perfect. :) It was hot and really sunny by this time so the kids did not want to smile...oh well. They were over joyed to be done with the picture saga and on to swimming!

Everyone had SO MUCH FUN in the pool! Aunt RaeAnn had purchased water shooters that looked like pencils a few days before for the kids...yes Levi included ;) and they had a blast with them! Some how the adults ended up with some too...hmmm lol!

Uncle Mark (left) and Dad (right) bought matching hats!
Nana, my Grandma, is helping Sarah and Kayleah get Wayland!

Kaleb and Christopher had a blast playing with Tony! He was great keeping the boys entertained with fun pool games. ;)
Sarah wore her hat into the pool but then when it got wet she didn't know what to do with it. Aunt Janece helped her realize that SHE was all wet and so her hat being wet really wasn't a big deal!

We were so excited that Ashley and Kenny were able to come down and bring their adorable little Kenny with them. He was SO SWEET! Emily couldn't get enough of him. Little Kenny is such an easy going baby. He was always smiling.
Aunt Juanita-or Benita as my kids call her-lol, made really yummy 4th treats. The kids enjoyed her edible firecrackers. They're pretzel sticks dipped in white chocolate covered in red, white and blue star shaped sprinkles! She's so creative!

We had everything you could want for a great family reunion AND 4th of July celebration: great food, a swimming pool, lots of family around and even live music. Grandpa Duff's son Jim and his son Wayland played and sang songs on request. Kaleb couldn't resist joining in and showing off his guitar skills so he ran inside, grabbed his guitar and sat in between the two and started jamming! It was GREAT!
Later Kaleb got his guitar back out and gave us a solo performance. The kids got up and sang a song together that was really cute.
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Then Kaleb and Sarah tried to do a DUET ACT...but it didn't work out so well. ;)
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Uncle Eddie, Uncle Mark, Uncle Ray and Aunt Bobbie went shopping for some fireworks to put on a show for everyone that stayed home rather than head downtown for the city show over the river. They spent over $200! Well, once those who took off for the riverfront heard what they had purchased for our home show-they turned around and came back! We had a GREAT show! It was no Red, White and Boom-but pretty darn close. ;)
The kids of course got Sparklers to play with. Uncle Ray sat the kids down and gave them a class in Sparkler Safety.
The Sparklers were a BIG hit! Don't let the fact that no one is smiling in this picture throw you off-they REALLY did like them! LOL
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But.....the REAL fireworks came tonight. The night after the 4th. When firework tents all over the state are practically GIVING AWAY their fireworks. Kelly, Levi, Ashley, Kenny and Tony stopped on their way home from an all-you-can-eat steak dinner buffet and "relieved" these tents of their left over fireworks. As we were setting up a video camera to capture the unbelievable fireworks show "the boys" were promising...one of the first fireworks they lit, fell over and flew into a box of huge fireworks causing the biggest burst of light and loudest pops you can imagine! of course everyone started screaming because they were going off on the GROUND rather than in the SKY! A fire started near "the pit" and Uncle Ray thought Tony had caught fire (turns out it was Levi). Hearing this the rest of us start to jump up and head for cover. Next thing I know Ashley's yelling "SAVE THE BABY!" Kelly is crouching over little Kenny, a.k.a the baby, and mom's legs and feet are up in the air because her chair has been flipped over!
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After everything calmed down and we realized that we were all still alive with all four limbs, eye balls, most of our hair AND the kids sleeping in the house had miraculously remained asleep, everyone started asking ONE QUESTION. Did you GET THAT ON TAPE?! no. we. did. not. Can you believe that?! Neither can we. Kelly and I had been trying to get my old fashioned tape video recorder to work while these early 'test' fireworks were going on and did not have the camera rolling. For the rest of the night we all made comments about the money we could have won if we had caught it on tape and sent it into America's FHV. Kelly even joked that we could send it in as a promotional 'What NOT to do with home fireworks' video. ;)

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So as you can see in the end we had a PERFECT 4th of July holiday weekend AND family Reunion. We had food, swimming, music, explosives and family feuds. That pretty much covers it.