Happy Belated Birthday, America

The 4th of July beats Christmas hands-down for the best holiday of the year. Summer nights with my favorite people, sparkly stuff, and no need to stress out over finding gifts for anyone. You can bet that my Pandora was streaming a 4th of July station all week long with several home dance parties with the kids to Katy Perry, Lee Greenwood and a slew country tributes to the red, white, and blue. The way I see it, it’s still July and I can keep playing the music so it won’t seem like this post should’ve been done a few weeks ago, right?

Lucky for us, Shawn’s sister and her hubs, Shan and Wat, came to Iowa to spend the holiday with us. We always have a blast with these two—they’re so laid back and totally hilarious. It also helps that the kiddos absolutely adore them.

One of the nights we played in a couples Nine and Dine golf tournament—this is my kind of golfing. A beach theme, extra prizes for best outfits and best shots, and a completely relaxed setting (you’ll notice a lack of any beach gear in the pics. It was our first time playing in the tournament and we were clueless how to combine beach and “golf-appropriate” apparel). Picture beach balls, plastic pink flamingos and grass skirts littering the course—we’ll know better next year.

Nine and DineNine and Dine - Shan & I

Wat is an unbelievable golfer. My lack of golf knowledge (handicap what?) will not help you understand how good he really is—so just take my word for it. I’ve golfed maybe five times—ever—so I’ll toot my own horn and tell you I sunk the putts on three of the holes getting us a few birdies to the utter shock of my team. *Toot toot*

Shawn also won best shot on one of the holes. Nice work babe!

Each night we lit the tiki torches and put the new deck to good use. And, of course, what good is family from Missouri for if they can’t smuggle bring the good (and not-at-all-illegal) fireworks to share. …Plus glowsticks—can you see why the kids love Shan?

 
 

I grew up spending all 4th of Julys at a lake my grandparents live on. There’s a big part of me that believes every 4th should involve swimming in a lake, playing on a beach and eating watermelon in your swimsuit. Now with that option being a not-so-short five hour drive away, we’re settling on the pool (for now).

Binz took her first-ever jump off of a diving board … it may have involved a quick drop from Wat…

Linds on Diving Board

…while T-Rex combined a few of his favorite things—water, snuggles, and his aunt Shan.

Fitting in all fireworks shows in the area is a must. For the second year in a row we fought the crowds to go to Ellis River but not before we invited a few more friends over for traditional fourth of July food and games beforehand.

 Baby B

Backyard Bohemian Horshoes

You can’t get more American (or Iowan) than corn on the cob. Wat showed us a new way to cook it where you leave the shucks on and soak it in water, then throw them on the grill.

corn on the grill with shucks

We also made homemade ice cream—another must for the 4th. I have vivid memories of my dad making homemade almond ice cream at the lake each year. This was my first go at it. It turned out okay, but I neglected to buy the almond extract. I’ll have to give it another shot before summer is over.

Shan also made a festive 4th of July dessert pizza (with a recipe similar to this one using sugar cookie dough). This thing is dangerous. Do you see the little fingers ready to poke? It’s that good.

4th of July Dessert Pizza

I’m not exactly one to decorate for holidays, even the best one of them all. Our household “decorations” consisted of a firework pedicure for moi and this red, white, and blue flower bouquet.

4th of July Flowers

Rex was completely enamored with the fireworks at the first show. His little head bobbed up and down to get a good shot anytime someone stood in his way. He was in complete awe…or maybe he’s just a boy and likes to see things blow up? Yeah, it’s probably the latter.

With the holiday falling on a Monday, Shan and Wat headed back south to MO while we joined in on the festivities at a dinner and fireworks show in town. I completely neglected to get a decent family picture so I’ll leave you with this self-portrait of T-Rex and I and the two kiddos sporting their patriotic colors.

4th of July - Binz and T-Rex

Wait, wait, I did make Binz’s ribbon hair bows that morning. Can decorating your kids count as decorating for holidays? It does in my book.

The holiday didn’t pass without me making note of a few new traditions to try next year including these stars in the grass and better planned family photos like some of these from one of my fav photog friends.

The Fourth of July is a celebration of all of the things we are fortunate to enjoy in life—freedom, family, friends, fun, and of course country music ;) Thanks, America for the good times and happy belated birthday!