Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tomorrow's the Day

... that I finally get to see my lover man after a week and a half of being apart.

I would say I definitely had the easier side of this separation, getting to be with family, and Josh the harder because he has been home alone chugging along at work. I sure have missed Josh though. My life is just not complete without him. It's hard. He is an amazing, loving husband and friend. He does so much for me. He calms me down, he keeps me grounded, he supports me, he a great father and backs me up when it comes to disciplining the boys, he makes me laugh, when I'm worn thin and tired he picks up the pieces and puts me back together again.

I just can't wait to get off that airplane, off the shuttle train from the gate, and into the arms of my best friend for a big hug.

Ready or not... here I come!

(I'm just not sure how I'm going to do it when he goes to Chicago in August and it is me left home alone with the two boys.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dancing Cowboys

There are a few people that may protest me putting this video up but it is too cute to pass up. Sam and Elijah were really getting into the groove with the cowboy music and enjoyed dancing with the crowd during the cowboy party on Saturday.

Anna and I conveniently found an old cd of Mat's that we used to detest, Disney's Country music for Kids. He loved that cd when he was little and the rest of us couldn't stand it. It spent many convenient years behind a dresser which is probably why it is still around today. Sadly you can't hear the music in the video hardly at all, but just imagine cheesy country sounding songs entitled I Love to Play Outside, Jenny Dreamed of Trains, So Many Questions So Little Time, and Clean Room Blues. Just to name a few.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cowboy Party

Mom pulled together another amazing party for our visit. Last time we were here we had a Pirate Party. This time we had a Cowboy Party complete with costumes and cowboy grub. The boys had the greatest time, as did the rest of us. We were sad that Josh couldn't be here to join us (our brake adventure on the way out here prevented us from doing the party that night as planned with Josh).

The evening was spent getting dressed up, dancing to cowboy music, line dancing, making belt buckles out of pie tins, making root beer and eating cowboy dinners, having a cowboy relay race, a gold rush, and ending with singing around our fake campfire with papa dusting of his guitar to accompany us. Sam and Elijah were totally engrossed in the festivities and I enjoyed snapping all the shots (with my camera that is).

More Pioneer Day Pictures

I forgot I had more pictures of our 24th of July celebrations. Elijah begged Grandpa to get a few fireworks and he and Cuyler seemed happy to ablidge. The boys were very impressed with the fire display and I was happy to have an excuse to use the firework mode on my camera.

Before doing the fireworks the boys set up the tent in the back yard for a boys night out under the stars. Sam was very excited and quite a helper. They ran around inside the tent for a good amount of time to get all the wiggles out. By the time we had done the fireworks and had homemade icecream they were pretty tuckered out. Though apparently Elijah couldn't go to sleep because of the sound of all the neighbors' fireworks. Grandpa kept him preoccupied by telling him storys of when various members of the family were babies (a few of these stories were repeated to me this morning and I'm afraid his primary teacher might eventually hear them too. Sorry Josh!)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gratitude Journal

I haven't done this in awhile but felt like epressing my gratitude today for:
  • the sound of rain falling on the trees. The smell that comes with it and the cool breeze it brings chasing away the heat of day.
  • being with my family and Josh's family and sharing my boys with them.
  • being able to see my grandma
  • a webcam so I can see my husband 500 miles away-a sight for sore eyes!
  • a husband that is willing to let me stay in Utah while he lives the life of a bachelor at home playing WOW and working long hours.
  • a renewed determination to read the Book of Mormon more regularly and keep up with the Gospel Doctrine reading assignment.
  • the Spirit that I feel when I am reading the scriptures.
  • for family history work and the sucess we had this week which will allow us to do the temple work for some more of our ancestors.
  • the internet which allows me to keep in touch with the people I care about.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Family History Friday: Exciting Finds!

Today I had the opprotunity to go to THE Family History Library in Salt Lake City with my mother. I went very hopeful that we would find something and did not leave disappointed! There's nothing worse than a long day of research and leaving with nothing, but today was not that kind of day. We were very very blessed.

Earlier this month I posted about my great great aunt Helen Condon Dillman and her husband, Shelby Dillman, that up until this month I was unable to find any information about. Well, today I was able to put a few more piece of the puzzle together. I located the cemetery record for both Shelby and Helen in Pleasant Point Cemetery, Meramec Twp, Crawford County, Missouri. His tombstone gives his birthdate as 27 Jan 1900. This happily matches the birthdate given on the WWI draft registration I cited in my previous post, confirming that they are the same person! Suddenly I have Shelby's birthday and his father's name, William F, confirmed. The tombstone also gave his death date as 15 Dec 1964. I was also able to find the marriage record for Shelby and Helen in St. Louis, Missouri on 10 Sept 1931 at the Union Avenue Christian Church. All of this information is enough to get the temple work done for Shelby and get him sealed to his wife. All very exciting!

Well, I have more exciting news to share about my Winders and Alderson families but it's been a long day and the information is on my mother's computer right now. I'll be sure to share it soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Pioneer Day

For those of you who don't live in Utah, today is just another day, but in Utah it's a big celebration day complete with parades and fireworks celebrating the entering of the Mormon Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.

This morning the boys and I went to the Salt Lake City Days of '47 Pioneer Day Parade with Josh's parents and little brother. Elijah was very excited for the parade and he was not disappointed. It was a perfect morning for a parade, we were lucking with our parking spot and our parade route spot, their was a nice ocassional breeze and the sun wasn't too hot. Overall we had a grand time celebrating with the masses (something I tend to avoid).

We got there early and the boys entertained themselves fairly well, with a little help from funky hats, suckers, and grandpa.

President Monson and his wife were in the parade. And I had to recognize Cougar Pride!

Sam was really interested in the parade floats, especially the horses (which is a new word he can say). He would wave back at everyone and say "Bye".

Elijah attatched himself to the spary bottle fan. He enjoyed spraying everyone, including the people in front of us, and the ground.

Hidden Musical Talent

Sammy and Elijah were giving us a concert last night with grandma's impressive collection of musical instruments. By chance Sammy discovered his musical talent. We were all rather surprised that he could do it, including himself. When he first did it he just burst out laughing. Have you ever laughed through a kazoo? Pretty cute and amusing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grandma's Firetruck

Chris found this firetruck at a garage sale. The minute my sons were in the door they were all over it. Eventually we took it for a spin outside. Sammy had this look of utter stunned happiness on his face as he was going around and around being pushed by Grandpa and Josh.

My niece, Kendell, wasn't sure what to think of all the people in the room wearing fire hats. She was still pretty cute despite the sad face.

Southern Utah Trip: Just the Two of Us

Josh and I had the greatest time on our belated 5th Anniversary trip to Southern Utah. It was absolutely gorgeous down there and the weather was rather pleasant.

The following is a travel log of our trip:

We drove the three plus hours to Boulder, Utah along US 24 and US 12. The drive on US 12 was breath taking. I would highly recommend it and be sure to take a camera. (I was camera crazy the entire trip and I love my new camera! I included just a few of my favorite shots above.) The highway goes through Dixie National Forest which is full of stunning aspen trees, tall pines, and many cattle. There are a few campsites along the road that look rather nice (and the rest stop had flushing toilets). Once you get south of Boulder it runs along a ridge part of the time with beautiful views from either side and winds up and around stunning mountains and rock formations.

We stopped in Boulder for dinner on our way down to our Inn in Escalante. We ate at the Boulder Mesa Restaurant. The food was a little pricey, but it was rather good (though our least favorite of the trip-we were spoiled as far as food goes). I had their tostada, which was as big as my plate, and Josh had the trout. We ate out on the deck and were surrounded by hummingbirds buzzing all around.

We easily found the Slot Canyons Inn, just west of Escalante off Hwy 12, and were immediately impressed with it. The property was beautiful and the Inn was stunning. We were met by the owner, Joette, and she showed us around the main floor and then to our room which was on the ground level. I liked her immediately and she proved very helpful, kind, and informative on top of making wonderful breakfasts (we especially liked Aunt Mildred's Eggs). We really like our room, by far the best place we have ever stayed. (our only, ever so little complaint, was that you could hear your neighbors a bit more than usual.)

Friday morning we spent exploring the Inn's property. They have 160 acres of beautiful land. There is a cliff behind the Inn that we were able to climb up rather easily that gives you a cool view of the property. We also found some pictographs while we were climbing around and some amazing rock formations. Apparently there were Native Amercians living on the property hundreds and thousands of years ago. BYU is actually doing an excavation project on the property just behind the Inn at the bottom of the cliff. We went and talked to them for a bit and looked at the site (which wasn't that impressive unless you knew what you were doing). They have found evidence of people living there back 8-11 THOUSAND years ago! Can you imagine?

We had lunch at the local frosty shop in Escalante (per Joette's recommendation) and then drove around Escalante a bit, which doesn't take long, and explored some of the shops. I was not impressed with the shopping in Escalante. There were a few podunk shops that sold very expensive art and jewelry and then other junky stuff. Supposedly there were a couple antique shops but they weren't open at the time. There were a lot of cool old houses from the pioneers era. I just love those old houses made out of the rough red brick. The people were really nice and willing to give directions and suggestions on things to do.

For dinner we ate at the Escalante Outfitters Cafe (another recommendation by Joette that proved amazing). They serve gourmet pizzas to die for, well at least the one we had. It was their Chicken Pesto Pizza and it had a pesto sauce instead of a tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and red onions. Oh so Yummy! I'm going to try and reproduce it at home with my homegrown basil. They also have a shop with camping and hiking gear and some souvenirs.

Friday evening we went to the Petrified Forest State Park. We had tried earlier in the day but it was too hot to do the uphill climb to the bluff. They have a 1 mile loop hike that takes you up and around the top of the bluff to see multiple pieces of petrified wood. The hike is very pretty and I would recommend it. Because it was so late in the day we were the only ones up there which was really nice. The bluff provides a great view of Escalante to the East and Wide Hollow Reservoir to the West. There is also a campsite near the reservoir at the base of the trail, though I wouldn't recommend it unless you enjoy seeing all your close neighbors.

Saturday morning we left right after an excellent breakfast at the Inn and headed on our way to Boulder. We stopped at the Escalante River to do a bit of hiking to find the Indian dwellings pictured above that were pointed out to us by the locals. It was a short easy hike along the river and cliffs edge. Well worth the time. If we had had more time we would have walked more of it. We then went on to Boulder to see the Anasazi State Park and Museum. The park and museum are fairly small but well worth the stop (and $4 each entrance fee). The Museum includes many artifacts taken from the site and information about the Indians that lived there. The park out back has a replica of an Indian dwelling and then the excavation site that you can walk around.

Our lunch in Boulder was also amazing. We ate at the Burr Trail Grill. It is a pretty laid back atmosphere (through out both Escalante and Boulder) and the food was well worth stopping for. Josh had their Blue Volcano Burger which had blue cheese and a chili sauce on it, and I had their Turkey Cran Pesto Sandwich which had a cranberry sauce, roasted turkey, spinach, and a pesto sauce. Mouth watering goodness! We also had their half order of nachos which were also really good.

After lunch we were off home to see our boys and my family. Overall it was a laid back, much needed trip. We really had a great time. There was so much that we didn't have time to do. I would love to go back and do some of the Slot Canyons and do some of Bryce Canyon which is about an hour west of Escalante. I really enjoyed discovering the pictographs and Indian dwellings and would love to explore some more (supposedly the visitors center outside of Escalante on US12 can show you some maps etc). Here's hoping we make it back sometime!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Once again... we managed to make it

We finally made it to Utah. We actually made pretty good time once we got on the road, four hours after we started. Turns out that our brake pads were down to the nub, over heating, and boiling our brake fluid. Thus the sparadic functioning of our brakes. Thankfully the auto shop got us in quickly and $300 dollars later we were on the road again.

The boys were great the entire ride. We only stopped once for gas and a potty break (plus a brief break at the side of the road for a toddler stop, Elijah thought I was teasing when I offered him a chance go peepees in the grass). It was sure great to finally get to my parents house. There was quite a welcoming committy when we arrived, complete with Abby dog hugs.

Well, they're pulling out the Wii Fit to show it off.
Let the fun vacation begin!

slight delay

I was rather proud of us this morning. We were up early and had the car packed and ready to go at 7:30 this morning. We had left the house and were about twenty minutes down the road, taking the scenic route through Golden, when our brakes decided not to work! (well, not 100% of the time)

We stopped at a place near where we were but they weren't sure they were going to be able to look at our car this morning. So we called our old reliable auto shop and they said they would look at it so we turned around and drove carefully home. Josh dropped us off at the house and then took the car in. I still haven't heard a verdict or timetable. I'm really hoping we make it out today! There always seems to be bumps on our adventures.

I am grateful that we decided to take the more scenic route as opposed to the freeway and discovered this problem before we were too far from home (and on the windy, hilly roads of I-70). I am grateful I wasn't driving and Josh was able to stay calm despite me panicing. I am grateful that we made it home safe.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Packing Break and Skates

Elijah begged to take his roller skates to the park last week. We haven't really had a chance to use them much since I found them last year at a garage sale (for a dollar). He did very well rolling along with just a little bit of help in the beginning. Eventually he turned around and made it all the way to the pavillion by himself with his little scooting rolling moves. What a cute kid! I'll just take him home with me!

Well, the week of our long awaited vacation has finally come! I'll be spending today and tomorrow getting everthing cleaned up around the house and everything gathered and packed for our trip. It takes quite a lot of my mental power to make sure everything gets done and packed that needs to. I have quite a few lists that I keep adding to and marking off.

We will be driving out on Wednesday, hopefully pretty early so we can make it to Grammie's house and participate in the much anticipated "Cowboy Party" (I'm sure there will be pictures to come of that exciting event). Josh and I are then off for our anniversary trip to Escalante at the Slot Canyons Inn. Sadly the trip is being cut short for Josh. He has too much going on at work right now to take another week off. He will be driving home by himself on Monday and the boys and I will be staying through to the 31st and flying home.

I'm excited to spend time with our families. An added bonus is that my grandma is visiting my parents right now. I haven't seen her in 3 1/2 years, not since Elijah's first Christmas. She hasn't even seen Sammy yet. I'm excited to spend time with her and glean some family history information out of her. (I'm having the slight buzz in my head that I have said all this before but can't remember when/where. I appologize if this is all a repeat.)

Anyway, I guess my break is up. Lots to do!
I'll catch ya on the otherside of the mountains!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Garage Sales

I was able to go garage saleing both Friday and Saturday this week. The boys accompanied me on Friday and Cecilia joined me on Saturday. I found some more fabric remnants that are stewing up projects in my mind. One piece is a few yards of red polyester that Elijah suggested would make good capes for him and Sam. I was also excited to find a viewfinder with lots of different viewing disks, some of them even unopened. It's great timing for our road trip coming up on Wednesday to Utah. I'm always looking for new distractions for Elijah and Sam. I also got a box of old school dominos that Elijah immediately latched onto and started stacking on the table.

Ironically the one thing I have a picture of is something that I didn't buy. One house I went to had the vintage fisher price toys. Ones that I remember playing with when I was little with the people that were tall and thin (and apparently a chocking hazzard). I had absolutly no use for the play house and it didn't have any of the people. But it dug up some fond memories so I had to take a picture and then tell it goodbye.

Rhythm on the River

Our community did a big family event yesterday that we went to with our friends the Fehlbergs. There were a lot of fun activities for the kids, lots of free handouts and information, as well and live music, lots of food, and arts and crafts booths. We spent probably four hours enjoying the free fun and getting a lot of sun (apparently we weren't as careful with the sunscreen as we thougth we were). Overall it was a great day of fun and we all came home happy and exhausted.

Among the freebies were the yellow "hard" hats that you see the boys wearing. Josh ended up wearing one most of the afternoon. He's a silly, very cute man!

They had a big pool full of live trout for the boys (Elijah, Sam and Ezra) and Alexis to fish in, catch and release. The poor trout had been in there all morning and I am sure they weren't very hungry. Only Ezra got a bite but wasn't able to keep it.

They had the big bouncy blow up toys. Sam wasn't really into the chaos that comes with those but Elijah loved bouncing and even climbed up the huge slide and went down by himself (though it took him a while of drooling before he got up the courage). They had the Carnival swings that go round and round. Elijah and Sam both enjoyed it. Ezra is the cute kid in the right of the picture that Elijah greatly enjoys playing with.

They also had a huge pool for kyaking in. Josh was brave enough to take the two boys alone. Sam was in front and wanted to be in charge of the paddle, all by himself. It caused a little bit of a struggle and Josh ended up powering the craft with his hands instead. Elijah was just along for the ride and content.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Family History Friday: Google Books

I just discovered this exciting thing a couple of weeks ago through a family history blog. I've used Google books before, in fact I even linked to it in one of my early posts, but never realized the great potential it had for family historians.

Google Books is a great way to view and preview books that are on the market today. But even better are the books that are out of copyright or are public domain. Those books are available in their entirety and some are even available for download. You are acutally able to view the book in it's original format but are able to do electronic searches within the pages of the book. There are a lot of local and family histories out there that were published eons ago and I am excited to say that there are a lot of them available on Google Books! The possibilites are amazing!

Google Books has it set up so you can flag a book and add it to your own "library". Just in a matter of hours I was able to build up my own library with a wealth of family history information. You are welcome to browse through what I found in my library at Google Books. Even if the book isn't available for full viewing it is great to know that it exists somewhere. Some of the books that I am most excited about that are my ancestors specifically are:

The Corwin Genealogy
Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America

I've found it also to be a great place to find local histories written during the era my ancestors were actually living there. A lot of them have biographical sketches (though I haven't been lucky enough to find an ancestor that has one, yet).

History of Pike County, Ohio 1880
History of Detroit, 1912
A Guide to the City of Chicago, 1909

Using another tool by Google called a Notebook, you can highlight snippets of a text and save them seperate from the book into your notebook. You are also able to add notes and labels. This enables you to then go back and find the actual page from the book that pertains to your ancestor through your notebook.

You can also highlight a portion of a book and imbed it into your own post like this one about my great great great grandfather Chester Mathews Bigelow from the Bigelow Genealogy:

Text not available
Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America From the Marriage in 1642 of John Biglo and Mary Warren to the Year 1890 By Gilman Bigelow Howe

Through doing this I was also able to find a reference (though sadly not a sourced reference) to my ancestor Joshua Bigelow who served in the King Phillips War as I mentioned last week:
Text not available

In all Google Books has made it rather simple to do a search on your ancestors through a plethera of different books available for full view or not. They have made it easy to search, read and share what you find.

Check it out!
Do a search on your own family.
Come up with any questions? Just leave me a comment and I'll see what I can do to help.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Taste of Summer

Nothing tastes more like summer to me than a bowl of vanilla ice cream (Bryers Double Churn) with fresh cut strawberries and homemade chocolate sauce.

Oh the sweet wonderful summer goodness!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wii Fit Wonder

We have had our Wii Fit for five days now and I can say I am feeling it-- in my arms and my quads. The cool thing is it doesn't feel like a workout when you are actually doing it. It is just fun!

There are the traditional yoga poses and strength training exercises as well as arerobic games and balance games. Each "event" has it's own score board that ranks you with 1-4 stars and compares your scores to the other players on your Wii Fit. It creates a friendly sense of competition not only to beat Josh's scores but to beat my own. It's rather motivating.

I've found that I'm not so interested in the BMI scale and progress chart. It is too skewed to be helpful for me (at least right now). The weigh in's fluctuate too much depending on what you are wearing to show any day to day progress. I might change my mind after I have a larger window of progress to look at. There are also balance tests that result in a calculated "Wii Fit Age" based on your balance control and strength. These too are skewed. A couple days ago I was 44 because I bombed a test; yesterday I was 28. I do like that it keeps track of your play time and how much time you spend in each of the four areas. You are also rewarded for playing longer by unlocking more levels or new games.

Elijah is also able to play some of the games. He paticularly likes the running ones which he can do without any help. It's quite cute to see this little boy "running" rather crazily with a Wii remote in his pocket. It's great for those days we don't make it outside and there is a lot of energy bursting to get out of my three year olds body.

Overall, I am definitly not suffering from buyers remorse with this one. I think it is something we will use regularly and it is possible to feel (and maybe eventually see) the effects of playing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Finnish Favorite

The boys and I went to a birthday party last week. As one of the activities they had a pinata and inside the pinata among the candies were the ever famous warheads. Just thinking of those candies make my mouth water. They weren't a favorite of the boys so we saved them and took them home to Josh. Little did I know what crazy door I was opening.

Apparently the sour Warheads have a Finnish counterpart, Turkish Peppers, that Josh fell in love with on his mission and hadn't had since he got home in 2000. My bringing home the warheads spurred an extensive internet search for a store that sold Turkish Peppers. Josh was very excited when he found a store that had both the Turkish Peppers and his much loved Fazer chocolate. He ordered gobs of both and anxiously waited.

Well, today Josh's package arrived all the way from Sweeden. Josh excitedly opened the Turkish Peppers and insisted that we all try them. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I found a description of Turkish Peppers on Wiki :

"Turkish Pepper or Tyrkisk Peber (Turkinpippuri) is a strong liquorice candy flavored with ammonium chloride (salmiakki), made by the Finnish company Fazer and popular in the country. "

Essentially it is a salty, black licorice flavered hard candy that gradually gets spicer and spicer as you get to the middle. Honesly, I didn't make it all the way to the middle before I popped it out of my mouth. Poor Sam made it and cough/gagged when he did. Let's just say it is an experience.

I don't think Josh will have much competition for his Finnish candy, well at least the Turkish Peppers. I'm just waiting until he breaks out the chocolate. I'm all over that!

Tissue Crafts for Kids

My mother introduced my kids and I to these simple, low mess, projects. It is a tissue paper art kit from Alex Crafts. Everything you need is included with the kit. It's a great activity for little hands to do with just a little supervision. There are 6 differetn self stick patterns. You peal off the top paper to reveal the sticky surface below a section at a time. Your kid just crumples a square of tissue paper and sticks it onto the pealed section until the entire section is covered and they are ready for a new section to be pealed. Whenever I pull this out, Elijah is very intently involved for a good chunk of time. Today we worked on the fish.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Color Chaos

Lately Elijah's favorite color has been different from day to day, but almost always by default it is green. He asked me the other day why red is still my favorite color, not understanding why I am not changing mine as often as he changes his. It's always interesting to get a glimpse of what is going on in that little man's head.

On the way to church yesterday Elijah declared, "I don't want my house to be green anymore. I want it to be red."

Josh and I told him that it just wasn't going to happen. They weren't going to come back and paint our house a different color simple because he wants them to. We gave him the reasons that it takes too much money and too much time. Elijah didn't quite get it and tried to explain that the painters would have the money.

Ultimately it came down to "But green isn't my favorite color anymore."

And the world should change on the whim of a three year old. Can you only imagine?

Little Friend

Last week I was having a rough time missing my friends and with Josh's busy schedule so I pulled out my sewing machine to keep myself busy and created a little friend. I used the retro fabric I bought at a garage sale a month or so ago. It started out as a hedge hog on paper and I guess it kind of looks like one in the end, if you use your imagination. The fabric is a stretchy polyester which feels really nice and squishy when it is stuffed. He measures about 8 1/2 inches long.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my little friend, but right now he's on my desk making me happy (amid a slew of other clutter).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Homegrown veggies!

We have picked our first home grown vegetable in the history of our family! We will happily eat our first cucumber with our dinner tonight. Elijah is pretty excited about our cucumber. He's been waiting for the day when we would finally pick it.
Our garden is doing better than we imagined. Everything is still thriving and I haven't killed anything by over watering or under watering! The containers are doing their job.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Talk about expensive Blueberries!

I set Josh to Walmart yesterday to get some blueberries and a couple avacados.

He came home with a Wii Fit (in addition to the blueberries and avacados).

Yep, somehow he wondered back to the electronics and just casually asked if they happened to have any Wii Fits. Amazingly, the answer was YES.

It is great fun! Elijah, Josh, and I have all been playing on the amazing balance board. The technology is pretty amazing. The games are fun and the personal tracking is very cool. I'm excited to use it more and more!

Happy 4th of July!

Yesterday we had a great day together as a family. The boys woke up and put on their festive socks with stars and stripes. Elijah wanted to paint fireworks and Sam joined in on the fun.

We went on a picnic for lunch. We thought about joining in the festivities put on by the city. But drove by the massive crowds and decided against it. We ended up at a park with four ponds and a great walking path. After lunch we walked around a bit (it was rather hot and humid yesterday and today, ugh). We crossed a cool bridge and found a waterfall (man made) and a little cove where we "fished" for crawdads. I have memories of fishing for crawdads with my dad and brother many years ago in Illinois. I was actually able to catch a big one with only a stick and my hands (pat on the back) and the boys had great fun splashing in the water scaring all the crawdads.

We stayed home and BBQ'd with the missionaries and had a yummy red, white, and blue cheesecake. I found the recipe at Mine didn't look quite as pretty as theirs, but it tasted oh so good and it was super simple.

We also sang Happy Birthday to America. Well, actually Elijah sang a solo for us. It was pretty cute. I made firecracker cakes with little debbie swiss rolls on end and candles. Both the boys loved blowing them out.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday too!