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A lovely 4th of July

In the history of Independence Days in the nearly 13 years that I've lived in Arizona, this one was definitely one of the most pleasant. The weather was AMAZING. The day started out with a bang when the kids went outside at 6:00 and found out the hard way that we have an ant problem in the back yard. I was rudely awakened (as was half the neighborhood) by the sound of Raya screaming as if she was being chased by an axe murderer. I ran outside to see what was going on and she was laying on the ground with her tipped over tricycle and the big kids were slapping her legs & feet as she screamed, "THERE'S ANTS ON ME!!" I was honestly surprised that nobody showed up outside with the way she was screaming. She got a few bites and a renewed fear of ants, but she's fine. I hadn't realized how many ant bites she had until I was cleaning her up a little while ago. She got about 20 bites. Good thing she's not allergic!

After that, we were all very much awake and we were able to make it out of the house at 7:45 to go to the flag raising ceremony and breakfast at the church, and the weather was gorgeous. It was about 80-85 degrees, overcast, and a cool breeze blowing. Totally unheard of for July in Arizona. The kids all wore their shirts they had made (thanks to Grandma in Idaho for sending the supplies & instructions!) and Piper wore Ashtyn's 4th of July outfit from 11 years ago. :)

They ate donuts and fruit, played games (gunny sack race, sunflower seed spitting contest, and water balloon toss), and rode with their friends in the bike/scooter parade.

Piper was ready for a nap by about 8:30

Donny and Ashtyn won the water balloon toss. She ended up getting soaked on the last throw but they were really far apart by the time they popped their balloon!

When we got home, Donny and the kids took advantage of the beautiful weather by trimming the tree in the front yard. It's been getting a little overgrown and there was a lot of dead stuff, and we're heading into monsoon season so it needed to be done before the storms hit. It was muggy and the temperature went up quite a bit by the time they were done, but the kids had a great time "helping".
Donny in the tree

Working hard piling up the branches

They named this branch and took turns riding it.

Everybody had to take turns posing for the camera :)

Raya is turning into such a big kid! *sniff sniff* Where did my baby go?!

At one point, they all came running into the house yelling for me to come out and see the awesome fort they had made out of tree branches. They were pretending that Kaida had a branch-breaking business and would bring branches to her area of the fort so she could break them. Everybody had their own spot in the fort, and they all had pretend jobs to do. I loved listening to them play. It reminded me of playing with my siblings on the farm when we were little. There was an old pile of dead trees that we used to play in just the same way they were playing. We also played in a junk pile and there were a couple of spots along the irrigation ditches that we liked to play. That was one of the best parts of growing up on the farm so hearing my kids play like we used to play made my heart happy.

The kids in their tree branch fort

Donny and the kids :)

Raya was sweating buckets and all splotchy-faced when they came in.

By the time everybody came in for lunch around 1, it was about 95 degrees and muggy. They were all sweaty, smelly, and covered in scrapes & scratches from climbing around the tree branches. They were hot and tired but also very happy. :)

Everybody ate lunch and then Cole & Ashtyn went back outside with Donny to help him cut & stack all the branches since we missed bulk trash pickup this month. The little girls took a shower to cool off and then got their 4th of July shirts back on.

We ate an early dinner. Indoors. Cooked indoors. What can I say. We have no grill and it was hot outside. :) We had delicious hamburgers, mixed veggies with our favorite seasoning, salad, Cheetos, and pop. As Cole was taking the last bite of his hamburger, he declared, "This is just like Christmas dinner!" Donny and I looked at each other with confusion and asked him how our 4th of July dinner was ANYTHING like Christmas dinner. He said it was because there was so much food on the table and we rarely ever have things like chips & pop. Silly boy.

We watched Honey, I Shrunk the Kids while I got dinner ready and then we ate. And by we, I mean everybody but Piper, who was napping in her rocker.
While I was cooking, she asked if she could have a hamburger too, so I cut up half of one of the patties and let her taste it. She liked it but she still has a hard time eating meat so she didn't eat much of it. She shocked all of us by eating about 3 tablespoons of mixed veggies though. She ate corn, peas, carrots, green beans, and lima beans. I had put a couple teaspoons on her plate and by the time dinner was over, she had asked for more about 5 times and was eating them out of the pan in front of her.

The older 2 kids are getting ready for a karate tournament next weekend so they've been putting in a lot of extra hours of practice this weekend. After dinner, Donny took them to the karate gym to get a little bit of practice in and the girls & I cleaned up dinner. I laid down on the couch and tried to no avail to take a short nap after being up 2 or 3 times the night before and having gotten up at 6. It's too hard to nap with 5pm Raya around. 5pm Raya has a LOT of energy and is rather noisy, and wanted to snuggle but could not hold a single part of her body still for even a second.

She kept wanting me to take pictures of her playing with Piper, so I obliged her. She loves making silly faces for pictures.

I was trying to take a picture of Piper with her tongue sticking out. When she was born, the nurse told us she looked tongue tied, and the feeding difficulties we've had pointed in that direction too. I have wondered if she was able to stick her tongue out at all, and thanks to the popsicle I let her lick the night before last, we now know that she can. :)
She really liked the popsicle, so I'm feeling optimistic about giving her food when she's ready for that. She was cracking me up licking the popsicle!

Anyway, ever since then, she's been licking her lips a lot and practicing sticking her tongue out now that she knows she can do it. Not sure what to make of the fact that it only goes to the right, but whatever.

One of Raya's favorite hobbies lately is making up songs for Piper when she's crying. The words to her songs are always amusing and the tunes are sometimes painful to listen to but the whole package is sweet and adorable. I love her creativity! She was feeding Piper her bottle and singing to her, and wanted me to take a picture.

When the big kids got home, we ate the dessert that Ashtyn and I had made. It was a fruit pizza with sugar cookie crust, dairy-free cheesecake-flavored pudding, blueberries, and strawberries. The pudding was just a Jell-O pudding mix that I made with 1 can of coconut milk instead of dairy milk since I'm not able to have dairy milk right now. I saved some of it so that Raya could eat some pudding for dessert too, and she loved that. It is a good feeling to find ways to include everybody in the food we eat.

It sure was tasty!

After dessert, we went down to the other end of the alley to light fireworks with the neighbors. The kids had SO much fun! It was only a couple years ago that fireworks became legal here so it's still new & exciting for our kiddos.
Throwing pop-its

This was about 30 seconds after I had told the kids to stop throwing pop-its at each other's feet. Dads are more fun than moms.

There were about 4 of these ridiculously bright strobe light ones. Notice Ashtyn's little distress signal. :)

When the fireworks were over, we ran around a little bit trying to see the big fireworks that we could hear going off. We sent the kids to bed at 9 and enjoyed a little peace and quiet before we fell asleep too. It was a great day!


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