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Small Town Fourth of July

2016 July 9
by Becky

The news has been unbearable this week. I’ve cried for the families who’ve lost loved ones and my outlook for the future has dimmed. I don’t know what to say, but I know something needs to change. With a lump in my throat, I’ve talked with Ethan about accepting all people and about the danger of guns—conversations we’ve had before but ones that felt important to have again, this week. Thinking about my boys and their sweet innocence and natural respect for all people instantly makes my hope soar, so I’ve been doing that a lot. Like reflecting on our recent trip to Nebraska for the Fourth of July.


To be frank, July surprised us. We were still coming down from our week away in Florida and camps and work and our annual Nebraska trip just popped up out of nowhere. I took this picture as I squeezed Finn between two airplane seats, giving my lap a little break, and realized he’s only a few months from the cutoff, soon there will be no more free flights. I then did a quick count to find he’s taken over 10 round trip flights in his short 1.5 years and it didn’t quite seem possible. He’s a pro.

We make this trip to Columbus, NE every year, the one where we sit around sipping cold beer, catching up with Stu’s family while the kids splash in baby pools before watching Stu’s cousins blow up everything remotely explodable. And we eat. We eat so much food.

I offer Exhibit A, a nacho cheese fountain.


Turns out Ethan is a nacho fan, he must have spent 20 minutes holding chips under the bright orange drizzle, working it out to a science by precisely topping each chip with a dollop of pico de gallo and a dab of spiced mayo, exclaiming, “It’s like a flavor explosion!” This was the beginning of gluttony too embarrassing to admit…and my scale told me the truth come Monday.

Yet before my scale-tipping adventures, I watched one of my favorite things, which is Ethan and his cousins. There’s five of them on this side of the family now, ranging in age from 1.5 to 5.5, and they love each other so much. Seeing them play all out, confident, just so happy to be together, from their first waking moment till we drag them to their beds well past normal bedtimes.



We had some rain, kind of a lot actually, which sent us indoors to build forts in great-grandma’s living room complete with snacks and movies—on VHS. Finn of course doesn’t care about anything involving screen-time so he was harder to entertain. I don’t even remember how we did it, it surely involved a lot of food, it’s all a blur. Thank goodness for naps.

But come 5pm the skies cleared and we burst out of the house, ready for some fresh air fun. Smoke bombs aren’t what they used to be, but were the top request from the 4-5 year old crowd and offered exactly 13 seconds of dramatic smoke dancing. The bigger stuff got loud and scary and Ethan got nervous as he’s a little sound sensitive. Aunt Jodie fixed him up with some noise reducing headphones and he made a miraculous recovery.


Finn wasn’t too thrilled with the big booms either so we put him to bed and he slept through the whole thing. The kid loves to sleep.

He also loves that popsicles were doled out at least twice each day, because aren’t they technically a food group in the summer months? We had one rainless day and it was spent with cousins and Stu’s mom at the park, the same park where Stu played as a tiny Nebraska-born kid. Now grandma gets to snuggle and chase her grandkids there, around what could possibly be the exact same playground equipment (because wow was some of it old).


Each year, my favorite parts of this trip include late night gatherings of the adult cousins, sitting around the kitchen counter talking and playing games. It’s ridiculous fun. We laugh till we cry and someone usually makes a couple rounds of “What’s in Grandma’s Basement?”, always a hilarious adventure. I love that some day our kids will do this too.

Cloudy skies aside, it was a quick trip stuffed with family, too much food, and plenty of belly laughs. Hope your holiday was wonderful!

One Response
  1. Linda Johnson permalink
    July 12, 2016

    We had such a wonderful time. I enjoyed following Finn around and trying to give him hugs and kisses. Ethan is growing up and had a blast with his cousin Annette, Westin and Hank.
    Making memories at the 4th is the best!! I cannot wait to see the boy’s again in a few weeks.

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