This weekend was Independence Day. If husband and I didn’t have kids we’d have gotten together with a group of friends, have some drinks and go as we damn well pleased when we damn well pleased. “Hey, this sounds fun! wanna go?” “Heck yeah I wanna go!” Done. Now though, with a family in tow it becomes a huge event almost not worth the effort. If you’re gonna make it a day event you have two choices. Either you go to bed early the night before in order to get up early in the morning to start getting the kids woken up, dressed fed and packed. Or you do the packing the night before for every possible necessity. Snacks. Spare clothes. Spare spare clothes. Water. Juice when they refuse the water. Spare juice when they spill the first juice all over themselves (which is beyond me when it’s in a sippy cup…). Hats. Sunscreen. diapers & wipes and so on…
Once everyone is packed, you check your list twice and head out. Even though you packed the night before (or got up extra early) you’re still going to arrive late (only ten minutes if you’re lucky).
Then the mayhem ensues. You try to talk with your friends, but the conversation is always cut short because you have to feed, change or scold your child. You didn’t get NEAR enough alcohol or adult conversation and you most definitely did not get that nice even tan you were hoping for. Your back is burnt and your chest is still pale as a ghost because you spent the whole day hunched over chasing your child around. By the time you get home your kid is pissed. off. because they didn’t get a long enough nap at all and you’re covered in god knows what during wars with your child from diaper changes or feeding time. You’re watching your overtired child having a screaming fit on the floor with jealousy because you wish with all of your heart that you could do the same.
Well, guess what? That is absolutely NOT how this 4th of July went for us!
Husband had a long weekend because the 4th landed on a Monday so we were pumped and ready for a weekend of running and fun. Saturday we went to our local beach on Lake Michigan with the kids. We considered taking Remmy, but the previous weekend we went the beach was closed because of an e-coli problem (the beach was covered in stinking dead fish). We assumed it was still like that, and we were right. Thankfully though, this park also has trails to walk on and sandy areas above the beach that wasn’t a problem area. Packing was fairly easy. We decided to bring our two boppies for the girls to prop up on and enjoy the view, our double stroller, Buddy’s umbrella stroller and our red wagon for the bags of beach toys, snacks and necessary stuff like sunscreen and hats. We walked the half mile to our favorite lookout and set up camp. The girls were immediately engrossed in the swaying tree above them, and soon fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves below. Buddy dove into the sand and kept busy with that for hours, and Husband and I just… relaxed. It was nothing short of amazing. We didn’t have to chase Buddy, and he only had one little tired fit. He ended up laying himself down on our blanket we laid out under a tree and nearly fell asleep himself. Apparently just laying still for five minutes was all he needed, because he was back up and at ’em after that with no problems. Three hours later we decided to pack up and head home. I had a nice tan, the kids behaved and I got to relax. The only downside was lugging everything and everyone back the half mile back to the car. My feet were a little sore, but overall I felt pretty good.
That evening Husband and I got the kids to bed at a decent time and decided to give a little TLC to our fire pit and enjoy the beautiful night. We had a nice roaring fire going in minutes and dug out some my Husband’s homemade beer. Best idea in a LONG time. I feel like we re-connected again that night. Not that we weren’t happy before but we’ve gotten so wrapped up in our kid’s lives, especially when dealing with healthcare, that we didn’t get much time for each other. We’ve always had a very strong marriage and have always had wonderful communication. We very very rarely have real fights (bickering doesn’t count). We have always loved each other unconditionally. And yet… we almost drifted apart in a sense. We were just too tired to talk most evenings. We already know EV-ERY-THING about each other so the get-to-know-you conversations were out of the question. That night we just found ourselves leaning in to each other talking and laughing about anything and everything. We were practically back in high school hanging on each other’s every word. It was so refreshing to see that smile back on his face and her his genuinely happy laughter not once, but over and over! Then to top it off, while sitting there we noticed some fireworks a ways off. Then another, and another! Three different towns had a fireworks display and we were enjoying it from our backyard. It was like we finally shed that weight for the night and just enjoyed each other again. I can’t believe how much that mended our marriage and it wasn’t even close to broken. Since then we give each other more walk-by hugs and kisses, we laugh more and we joke more. What an amazing thing it is to be happily married and in Love.
Sunday was equally awesome. I went to church to find that we’ve got a new priest, Fr. Todd. He looks young for a priest and he’s charismatic and all smiles in his greetings before mass. I’m practically bouncing in my pew to hear his homily. He doesn’t disappoint. He starts off with a good joke, asks us who was the last person we met that we thought was truly doing God’s work and how they inspired us to do the same, and proceeds into the homily by talking about a personal life experience relating to the readings. Sense of humor (check), engages the congregation to reflect on their faith (check), uses real-life experiences to show you how to relate to the readings (check). I’m sold. I’m so friggen sold. I FINALLY have a Priest who makes me look forward to Sunday and makes me want to look deeper into my faith instead of float along. I’ve been waiting for a priest like him. It’s not that I’m not a religious person. I’ve just only recently become Catholic. I never went to church before, and now I go every Sunday. When I didn’t do it my whole life, it’s not easy to adjust to the routine of things. I was never a fan of mass and sometimes I’d just physically be there and mentally be checked out. I need a Priest like Fr. Todd to engage me and make me think about my faith. I need a Priest who gives me real life experiences to relate to. He’s absolutely perfect. I’ve only known one other priest who is this charismatic, and he’s the one that ultimately inspired me to become Catholic and dig deeper into my faith. A Priest who truly believes in what he does, and genuinely wants to touch the hearts of every one of their parishioners is someone to hang on to. I am REALLY hoping he stays around for years to come.
Later on Sunday, after I raved to Husband about our new priest, we went for a family walk by the marina with the whole family. I was a little sore, but still on a high from the weekend going so well so I was willing to take it on. I think I was a little TOO high on life, because I stupidly decided to take a route with the biggest hill in town. It’s nearly a 45 degree hill for about a quarter-mile. By the time we got to the bottom I’m realizing my mistake, but there’s no going back now. We enjoyed the boats and the piers and the locals and headed back. Here comes the hill. When we arrived at the bottom of the hill my feet are already just throbbing. We must have walked about a mile at that point. Normally that wouldn’t have been bad, but I haven’t even done a speck of working out since delivering and 25 pounds of toddler gets heavy fast. A quarter of the way up the hill I can already feel the sweat dripping down my back. The heat is coming off of me in waves. Halfway up I’m beginning to sound like the panting dog. Three quarters of the way up I’m not even looking where I’m going because I’m nearly parallel with the sidewalk with my face to the ground. Husband is laughing at me. I think I’m dying of a heart attack. We’re nearly to the top and Remmy stops in front of the stroller and I hit him. If I stop I’m collapsing. We finally get to the top and go to a little playground near our van for a few minutes so Buddy can swing and slide. After enjoying his playground time we head home. I am SO done for the day and want nothing more than a foot rub. Thankfully Husband and I are on good terms, because he happily obliges to a foot rub.
Finally we’re to the 4th of July! I’m all worn out and the official holiday is just beginning! We woke up and minimally packed and headed to my in-laws house 40 minutes away. We hung out with the in-laws, grandmother-in-law “granny” and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend and enjoyed the nice weather and cooked out. The kids all were happy. We ate the perfect cookout meal complete with fruit, burgers and corn on the cob and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was nice and relaxing. On our way out I mentioned I wished I had gotten sparklers for Buddy to play with and Granny offered to give us some sparklers she had. I happily accepted her offer and we headed to her house to get them. Little did I know they were 2 1/2 foot long HUGE parade sparklers on old metal rods from who knows how long ago. We graciously accepted them and laughed to ourselves on the ride home saying we’d be surprised if they’d even work anymore. We had the little things in mind that you could rn around with… these were bigger than him!
Buddy slept on the drive home and we started a conversation about whether or not we wanted to take Buddy to his first fireworks that night at the marina. They wouldn’t start until nightfall which is like 9:00. His bedtime is at 8 and we never ever go off of his bedtime schedule if we can help it. After a lot of wishy-washy debating Husband decided he was just too tired for another activity and didn’t want to deal with getting the kids in and out of the car and doing more packing. Totally understandable. I decided I’d take Buddy by myself and Husband could stay at home with the girls. We were both happy. The only thing I was worried about was that Buddy may end up going into major meltdown mode because he had a 45 minute nap in place of his usual 2 hour nap, the nap was 5 hours after he usually takes it, and he was going to be staying up until at least 10:00. I got his wagon ready and brought a bag with toys, bubbles, snacks and bug spray. Dressed us accordingly, grabbed a blanket to lay on and headed out. I got there at about 8:30 and got an amazing parking spot. loaded up the wagon and buddy snuggled up with his favorite blanket and laid down as if he was going to fall asleep while I wandered to look for a spot to set up. I found a nice open grassy spot at the end of a really tall hill overlooking the marina where the fireworks would be set off. I set us up and got busy blowing a billion bubbles. Soon another set of parents with a 1-year-old boy shows up and he joins Buddy in the bubble chase. Then another couple shows up with yet another one year old boy. They’re all enjoying the bubbles and laughing together now. It’s so cute. More kids show up and I can’t help but think either I coincidentally found the “kid area” or my bubbles were like a beacon to all other parents. “kids welcome here”, “crying babies and toddler meltdowns tolerated here”. The parents banded together. I pulled out a banana for Buddy and gave him a bite. Another little boy approaches me and points at the banana. I look at Mom and ask her if she minds. She practically throws her son at me and tells me she totally forgot to bring a snack and thanks me for sharing. As nightfall approached, the mosquitoes came out of their god-forsaken hiding places to prey on our children. I sprayed Buddy with the precious liquid gold, and turned around to find most of the other parents looking at me with puppy dog eyes. They didn’t bring any. I laughed and shared it with everyone else as they all thanked me profusely. One Mom told me I was so smart to remember toys, bug spray and a snack. I couldn’t help but smile to myself proudly. Normally I feel overwhelmed and underprepared compared to other parents. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this!
Then finally the fireworks came. They shot off the first warning firework and Buddy stopped mid “sprint” and looked in the direction of the boom, then at me with a puzzled look on his face. I brace myself. This can go one of two ways. Either he hates it, or loves it. After the warning shot I grabbed his favorite blanket and made a nest in my lap and beckoned him to come cuddle with me. He ran over and plopped in my lap and pointed to where the warning shot went off. He grabbed my face and pointed my face in that direction and he kept making questioning sounds. He was so intrigued. I smiled at him encouragingly and prayed fervently that he’d like them. Then they began. Oh. My. God. I’m so SO happy I sucked it up and took Buddy. When the first one went off he just froze in my lap with his little face turned to the sky with the most innocent look of wonder. His mouth was hanging open with the corners turned up in a little grin and his eyes were wide with excited shock. As the fireworks continued he got more and more excited. Pretty soon he was laughing and squealing in delight. He kept pointing at them, and pushing my face to them like, “Look! Look!”. His joy had me laughing and cheering right along with him. He clapped and jumped up a few times with his arms up and fingers spread wide like he wanted so bad to just fly right into the middle of it all. It was just so precious. When it was over I packed up and snuggled him up in the wagon and we made our way to the van. It was the perfect temperature and we had a gorgeous view of the lake and I just had the best one-on-one time with my son ever.
This is a weekend I will always cherish. I reconnected with my Husband, I was inspired by a new priest and I had the best time watching my son enjoy fireworks. I will always remember that look of wonder on his face as he watched his first ever fireworks show. Every drawback, letdown and hiccup was worth that one moment. Never again will I wish I was out partying with friends for holidays rather than with my family. This memory is absolutely priceless and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.