This year we traveled to NJ for the 4th. Kevin's brother's family was there at the same time, so it was a good opportunity to gather the troops. No one dreads the 10 hour car ride more than me, but at least this time it meant that we could see our friend Mary, whom we miss on most of our trips since we visit on major holidays and she leaves town to visit her family on those same holidays.
Plus, Granny has a pool. It was a really nice change from the freezing Christmas weather that we are used to!
Also Granny has parades. For realsies parades. A street away. And it was a long event with lots of candy.
If they were giving awards out for the cutest and most dedicated flag waving, this girl would have won. I believe that she believed that they threw her candy when she waved her flag. The kids got piles of candy, so maybe she was right.
I stepped into parade traffic multiple times to get group photos. Totally worth it, and since all of the ambulances and fire trucks in the area were in the parade, I felt safe. As Kevin said, it wasn't a good time to have a heart attack across town.
After the parade, we walked to the local park for free hotdogs and soda plus kiddie rides. No photos, as it was too hot to even hang a camera around my neck. It wasn't even sunny- just sweltering humidity. However, Mary and Kevin both ended up with at least some evidence that the UV rays were out. Not bad at all, but Kevin's was particularly comical- a tiny triangle in the triangle of his neck not covered by his collared shirt.
In a MAJOR disappointment, the town fireworks show was canceled at the last minute due to vendor problems. Devastation was the first emotion, then anger that we enforced naps at 4:00 for the big night. Finally, we settled on the fun of sparklers and running around the yard to see what the various neighbors were shooting off.
Same picture as above, just not cropped. I kind of like the blurry family in the background.
Gwen spent the most time in front of me, and since I was using my knees as a tripod, she ended up with the only focused photos.
Safety first. I enforced the life jacket, which she did not object to. In fact, she added the ring and arm bands for good measure, and spent most of her time floating around like this. Fine by this mama.
Our last little adventure was to visit Grams. We had all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren together (Kevin's cousin and his family also were visiting from NC). We did get some nice large family photos. I set my camera up on a chair and a flip flop and set it to take 10 photos on timer and ran into the picture. I do think that this ultimately led to what might be my favorite photo of the trip. Gwen decided that she would take the next photo, pressed the shutter button and bolted into the frame. Look at my tiny photographers joy!
And one last update, which feels moderately related to this trip, as I saw our access to a pool as a key part in pushing the current mission forward. This summer has been our first major effort to build swim skills for the kids. We both think swimming is important and want the girls to be good, strong swimmers. My skills in the water are limited, and I really want more for them. Stephanie started a pre-swim team lesson group in May, and as of a day ago "graduated" to the swim team. She was so excited she was shaking when she told me, and I was just so happy for her. Fast forward 18 hours to the first 8am swim team practice (and these kids have been doing swim team for 2 months, so the swim team is in full swing)- She was wide awake an hour before practice and full go. 8-10 full pool laps of freestyle wore her completely down and she spent 20 minutes wrapped in a towel, fighting tears on the side of the pool. Kevin and I were both there, and worked so hard to convince her to get back in. She delayed and delayed and kept asking how much longer practice was. The worst part for us was knowing that they had moved onto far easier things but she had just spent everything she had in the first 20 minutes. In the end, she rejoined the practice with about 15 minutes left and miraculously emerged from the pool smiling and acting like we were crazy when we asked her later if she was going back to swim team tomorrow. Hopefully she gets the part where it is okay to pace herself a bit and gets the hang of this before swim team wraps up for the summer- which is pretty soon! In the meantime, Gwendolyn "I'd rather not get my face wet, in fact I feel pretty good in multiple flotation devices because I am so my Mama's swimmer" started swim lessons on Monday. After two days of struggling to keep her face dry at all costs at lessons, I convinced her to go under during Stephanie's swim lessons, and it took! She isn't the fish that Stephanie is, but she is now willing and able to go under the water AND if there is something to get from the bottom of the pool, she is shockingly persistent at being willing to go under to try to get it. Her swim teacher was shocked at the difference and I think she is now in the right place to actually pick up some pool skills, plus she seems to be enjoying it!
That's it! A summer well in progress with swimming updates looming in our future!