our 4th of july weekend (2020)

We usually treat the Fourth of July like a pretty minor holiday around here. We would typically go to our town’s community fireworks show, and maybe make a red, white, and blue dessert. This year, I had some fun trying to make it a really fun day for the girls. I think that being in quarantine for several months has made it so that we look for any reason to make things a little extra special when it comes to family time.

We also lucked out and had absolutely perfect weather all weekend long. We enjoyed the pool on both Friday and Saturday afternoon. It was just the best temperature! I always think it’s fun that Kaya and Kaelyn practice floating in this tiny pool! Being in the sunshine with my babies truly is my happy place.
The girls got to try these bomb pops for the very first time. They were a hit! We repainted our toes… and I will never get enough of little baby feet with pink nails.Kaya and Kaelyn had some time to make chalk art in between swimming!I made this “pulled chicken” (instead of pork), and it was amazing! I love that it was completely from scratch and was so moist that it didn’t need barbecue sauce at all. I tried this corn on the cob in the oven, and that worked really well, too! The girls had never had corn on the cob before. Kaya loved it the most!I made these s’mores bars for dessert, which were also a hit, especially with the kids. I cut the sugar in the crust by half and they were really still too sweet for me.We got everyone bathed and in jammies before we headed outside to do sparklers. Because of social distancing, I counted on these being our only “fireworks” and really soaked in watching the girls have fun with them.Evie was absolutely OBSESSED with the sparklers.Watching all her firsts is still so special. We came inside, and just as we were tucking everyone into bed, we heard fireworks. The town still had its traditional show, and to our surprise, we had a pretty good view of it out our upstairs window. Kaya and Kaelyn were taking pictures and videos with their cameras. It felt like the perfect ending to a great day.

fourth of july (2017)

Three weeks later… and I’m finally writing about our Independence Day! Whoops. We had an amazing four-day weekend and truly enjoyed filling our time up with family, friends, and good food.

To start off the holiday, we needed some matching patriotic outfits, of course. Apparently, this is the face Nella makes when she’s very excited about something!
Kaelyn is always the first one who wants to be done having her picture taken. This was too classic to leave out. This girl and her dog… I absolutely love them together.Michael worked on painting our front door and priming our kitchen early in the day. There’s always a project to be done around here, and I’m glad he’s so willing to do it. In the process, we discovered that our previously blue door had apparently been red at some point. (If you remember our basement, it’s pretty obvious that one of the previous homeowners loved red!)
This was Nella’s “last first” holiday, so there had to be some pictures of just her in her patriotic garb. What’s cuter than a baby in holday-themed apparel? Answer: Nothing. That’s what. One of the families we know at church had a huge, open-invitation, cookout at their home- I think nearly half the ward (congregation) showed up that evening. See that ripped up hot dog bun? That’s what happens when you try to fill up your plate while also holding a baby who likes to grab everything! Really though, any meal that includes mac ‘n cheese is an automatic success. I don’t know how many of these cute smiley-faced cookies my girls ate…… and Nella was still really excited about everything! The kids all got to play an egg-toss game, but it started to pour down rain right in the middle of it all. It’s a tradition of ours to go to the town firework show, but we really didn’t want to sit out in the rain, so we stayed at the barbecue a little longer. They shot off some small fireworks, and we had sparklers for the kids.

Kaelyn was afraid and wanted nothing to do with the sparklers, but we managed to convince Kaya that they’d be fun, and she couldn’t get enough of them after she started.
We stayed out a lot later than we normally do (since we became parents, anyway), and I think this is how we all felt the next morning!

fourth of july weekend 2016

I know… how long ago was the Fourth of July? I’m always behind, but these are things I don’t want to forget, so here we go!

We kicked off the long weekend in the best way possible on Friday morning- with some pool time! My girls love playing with their buckets and rubber ducks and would probably do it all day long if we could. Of course, they do love taking a little break to have lunch in the shade.

This little goofball wearing my sunglasses still cracks me up!IMG_20160701_125329-01 On Saturday morning, I enjoyed an awesome 7.5-mile run. I really felt great the entire time, which I especially relish these days- you just never know when pregnancy is going to throw you an achy ligament or make it feel like you need to pee for 5 miles.IMG_20160702_100157-01 Mom and Dad Irwin arrived right around noon! Dad and Michael immediately started work on some house projects, including adding new posts to the deck! They finished it in just a few hours. I was both grateful and impressed!_MG_3450 Because they couldn’t make it up for Kaelyn’s birthday party the previous weekend, they had a few gifts to give her. Everyone gets excited about Daniel Tiger books!_MG_3458 _MG_3459 These Duplos were also a big hit. I’m honestly impressed with the things my little girls can build!_MG_3461 Sunday afternoon brought naps and more block-building fun…_MG_3468 … and we somehow managed to convince Michael to make some square shooter cookies!_MG_3470Grandma Gina and I played “Trouble” with the girls… but it might have been more trouble than it was worth (see what I did there?) because Kaelyn kept moving the pieces. It was more like a game of “Remember Where All Your Pieces Are, Because They Will Most Definitely Be Moved”! Haha.
_MG_3473 There were daddy-daughter-granddaughter (and guinea pig!) cuddles, along with lots of Wii-playing! 20160703_190111-02 On Monday morning, we got to sleep in until about 7:30! Grandpa Skip loved waking up to a cute little cuddlebug… 🙂_MG_3478 Michael’s parents had to leave around lunchtime to head back home, so we spent the rest of the day enjoying time as just the four of us. Grandma Gina gave the girls these pinwheels (their first ones ever!), so they had a whole lot of fun getting them to spin. Grandma Debbie gave them some matching patriotic shirts, so I think we pretty much mastered American festiveness on the 4th!_MG_3497 _MG_3499 We were invited to a barbecue by some church friends, so after naptime, we headed over there. The weather was on-and-off rainy, so we probably sat outside for .0005 seconds before we had to go in to finish our meal.IMG_20160704_173652She acted grumpy about the food on her plate, but then proceeded to eat two hotdogs. Ah, two year olds.
IMG_20160704_173658Have you ever seen someone more excited about eating in a camping chair?
IMG_20160704_174545 After the barbecue, we headed out to the town fireworks show. We wondered if it would be canceled due to the potential for severe thunderstorms that night, but thankfully, the rain held off until the very end._MG_3507 I surprised the kids with glowsticks (which they absolutely loved) and sparklers (which they were slightly terrified of) while we waited for the show to start!_MG_3509 Kaya actually held one for a few seconds, but overall, she didn’t want to be anywhere near them once they were lit._MG_3510 My intentions were to enjoy the fireworks without taking too many pictures, and I thought I did better at that this year, until I realized how many fireworks photos I have to share. The photography nerd in me just can’t help myself.

Both girls were a little apprehensive of the loud booming at first, but as long as they were snuggled up to us, they were enjoying it.07042016_1The show finished right before a tremendous thunderstorm blew through. We were running to our car and ended up completely soaked to the bone by the time we got there! I’m grateful for the the time we could spend as a family, enjoying the many freedoms we have in this country. We truly are blessed.

hiding from the fireworks

We had the most fantastic holiday weekend. It was so low-key, and apparently just what we needed. We had some quality family time and made some great memories.

We also made some fantastic cupcakes… because what is a holiday without special sweets? I saw these tie-dye cupcakes and just had to give them a try. That vanilla cake recipe is the best! (This photo is before frosting, obviously, or I would have just called them muffins…)_MG_8369Kaya is always eager to help me bake and decorate! She was so good at carefully putting the sprinkles on.
_MG_8376 Pretty sure you could get a sugar high just from looking at these._MG_8381 She insisted on wearing her [much-too-small] Kitty shirt that day, but I did talk her into at least wearing a red skirt. I think the cupcake is sporting enough blue for the both of them, anyway!_MG_8385 It was supposed to rain all day long, so I didn’t plan a cookout like we usually do. Instead, we had this pulled pork and these green beans. Both recipes live up to the hype! Kaya shocked me by eating two mini pork sandwiches!_MG_8377We had to balance out all that deliciousness with a little bit of exercise. Michael ended up with a free Fitbit One and passed it on to me! I love anything that tells me numbers and statistics, so this is a lot of fun. Saturday was my first day with it, and I was pretty excited to see how high my step count was just after going through a regular day.
Screenshot_2015-07-06-00-11-01~01 After dinner, we headed out for the fireworks. Our town puts on such a great display every year. We are never disappointed!_MG_8401 Kaelyn was a little nervous at first because of all the loud booms, but she quickly settled in to watching and enjoying the lights. This was her first firework show, since she was barely a week old last year!_MG_8412 _MG_8397Kaya, on the other hand, was begging to go home from the moment it started. She ended up “watching” the fireworks from under her cat blanket._MG_8411

By the time we got home on Saturday night, both babies went to bed super late. Thankfully, they gave us the gift of sleeping in on Sunday morning before church. (And yes, Kaya still prefers to sleep on the floor!)Hope you had a happy 4th!

4th of july 2013

Our Independence Day started out pretty relaxed- we slept in until about 8:30, which felt amazing! I went on a 4.5-mile run with Jax and then got to spend the rest of the day with my two favorite goofballs._MG_7093_MG_7100 My mom bought Kaya this adorable shirt a few weeks ago, but she didn’t have any matching shorts (apparently this kid only owns shorts that are pink, purple, or plaid…)! So, I sewed a pair of white ones for her super fast. I should have made them longer because they kept bunching up… but all her shorts seem to do that anyway._MG_7072I love this little stinker (which apparently means that I can never decide which pictures to post. They’re all too cute)!
kaya07042013At dinnertime, we had a cookout with some of our best friends (but we were still missing a few who were out of town). We enjoyed hot dogs, green beans, grapes, and these chocolate chip cookies.
_MG_7128-2 - Copy You can’t really tell from this picture, but Kaya loves Brittany. They’ve been buddies since Kaya was tiny._MG_7118_MG_7122

Jax even looked festive (I sewed him this bandanna about 5 minutes before our barbecue)!
_MG_7113Don’t be fooled by this photo… the puppies were only calm together for about thirty seconds.
_MG_7124 After dinner, we headed off to the town’s fireworks. We showed Kaya what sparklers can do. She was mesmerized and kept looking for more all night!_MG_7147 She wasn’t afraid of the fireworks (I was a little concerned they’d be too loud for her). As usual, it was a great show._MG_7167_MG_7169 _MG_7165 _MG_7166 _MG_7180 fireworks2013I’m so grateful to live in a country where we can make our own choices and express our opinions. Happy Independence Day everyone!

independence day 2012

I was so excited for the Fourth of July this year, just because I was really looking forward to having a whole extra day to spend with my buddy! We also had been invited to a picnic with some friends, so how could we not have fun?

Whenever I have to bring something to share, I love taking the opportunity to experiment with my cake-decorating skills. I even made a recipe for white cake that I had never tried before! Everyone loved the cupcakes, and I have to say, I think I am finally mastering that traditional “frosting swirl”.

I love how these turned out.

We had a great time at the picnic, despite the crazy heat!

A silly-face photo is almost always required.

There were even HUGE freezie pops, and you know how much we love those.

We were going to go to the town parade (I’ve never been before and wanted to check it out), but we didn’t really leave the picnic in time to go, and this tired and hot pregnant lady ended up taking a nap instead. Oops.

We did make it to the fireworks, though! I had an especially fun time photographing them, since this is the first year I had a tripod! Here are some of my favorite shots.

After fireworks, we played with sparklers! It’s practically a tradition in my family on the Fourth of July, so I couldn’t resist getting some when we were at the store. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow running around and waving them like crazy. This year I tried writing some things with the long exposure.

God Bless America!