Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weekending: camping, fireworks and barbecues

The fourth of July weekend always stands out to me as a special moment in a year. It marks the beginning of July - a midway point of summer and of the year. It's the time to push pause - to soak everything up and drink in the summer sun, to appreciate the fireflies that flit at twilight, and the sound of Mike Shannon narrating a tragically awful Cardinals game.

It's also when my family celebrates two important birthdays: mine and my dad's. He was born on July 5, and I was born on July 6. For as long as I can remember, my family has spent the fourth out at a lake about 45 minutes from my parent's house. The lake is in a private community. For years my aunt or my parents or grandparents owned property out there, but we would always stay at the camp grounds alongside my extended family. It was such fun to run around the woods near the campground, play tag, and roast marshmallows after a long day at the beach or on the boat.

This year, my parents and siblings and my dad's good friend camped. The rest of my extended family is scattered about the country. A big chunk of them were in Florida at my Aunt Sandy's house celebrating the fourth with her. Sometimes it makes me sad to think of how unlikely it will be for everyone to get together again out at the lake. But then I look at my siblings and realize, eventually, they'll bring their significant others and kids out and we'll have lots of people once more.

Chris and I arrived Saturday night and set up camp. (Note I didn't get sun burnt in Florida, but after 1.5 hours in the mid-day Missouri sun playing tennis, I'm as pink as a watermelon).

My mom bought a "festive!" t-shirt at Wal-Mart earlier in the weekend, not really looking at it as she hurried to the checkout. It wasn't until she got home that she realized her shirt had a giant face on it! No one noticed until my brother Alex said something about "Mom's excellent fashion sense."

Mom always comes through with my favorite festive funfetti cupcakes. Yum.

Waking up in a tent is so much different than waking up in your house. As the sun rises, the light fills your tent and though you may be tired, it's impossible to stay in there. So by about 9 a.m., everyone was up and eating breakfast. Lucy took a little nap in the dirt.

There's nothing like an iced coffee to get you going. My parents are veteran campers. Chris and I didn't bring anything out with us, because my parents have The Camping Box, which is stocked with plates, knives, paper towels, tea, salt, pepper, a camp stove, pots, pans, dish washing liquid. You name it, they've got it.
We had eggs over easy, and skillet toast (I"ll have to share the recipe here sometime - it's amazing).

Then we played cards and tried to decide if it would stop raining so we could swim. We ended up eating lunch at the snack shop on the beach and then heading home. A short camp out, but a fun one, nonetheless.

Later that night we went to Jeff and Michelle's house for their annual celebration. Miss Alyana is now a year old. It seems hard to believe I took this picture just a year ago.

I gave Alyana my camera and let her figure out how to shoot pictures. She got it!

I tried to take her picture, but she was much more interested in being on the other side of the camera.

Baby Jack, Laura and new puppy Maddie hung out inside for awhile. For comparison purposes, here are Jack, Laura and Jason last year:

Eventually we headed outside to watch some of the guys set off fireworks in the street.
It was a beautiful show.

But the magic of fireworks can become tainted if you aren't careful. We had an accident happen and one of the big ones knocked over and shot into the crowd. Two women were burned (not badly) on their arms and legs. An ember flew onto my shirt and as I was running away someone said "Hey Kalen you're on fire." Luckily, it just burned a small hole in my shirt. And fortunately, none of the kids were hurt. If anything, they probably just have a healthy respect for things that explode. That can't be a bad thing.

We finished out the weekend with a backyard barbecue on Monday. We kept it pretty small, just our families and a few friends. But there was tons of good food.

Homemade cherry pie and homemade ice cream.

Lots of family and friends.

And finally, a rousing game of Banana Grams, possibly the best game ever.

I hope your weekend was as much fun as mine!

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