Had a great holiday weekend with my family. July 3rd, every year, we have a neighborhood party, and that's my one day-of-year that my whole family tries to make it down for the day. My whole neighborhood is full of dozens of BBQ's, all day, simultaneously. Fun stuff!
Late in the afternoon, the local, rural fire department comes through, blowing their sirens and making their way to the beach. Kids and adults alike are welcome to check out the fire and emergency vehicles throughout the evening.
When everyone's arrives at my place, we eat a bunch of good food, spend time at the beach , and watch the fireworks at the end of the night. It's been a neighborhood tradition for my last 11 years, excepting for a couple of years that I've had to work.
After two days of cooking and getting things ready for the day, family started arriving after lunch, and I finally got out my camera to capture a few memories. No pics of the food this year. Sorry. I know it just breaks your heart [sarcasm], but I didn't even think about it.
This fella was the first things I noticed. He wasn't that striking all closed up in a huff, but in macro, I could actually see his beady little eye following my every move. I am not that great with macros, but I had fun with this one. This little fella just hung out and let me get very close, staying completely still, moving nothing but that big ole' eye.
It wasn't long before he finally started warming up to me and opening those wings. It was strange to see how plain he was folded up and so colorful when relaxed with wings splayed open.
Ally was running all over the front deck wanting to get the party started. She's always on the go and ready to roll. Bless her heart, she's so precious.
Last year we waited too long to head down the beach for a swim. We got there just before sunset and other than splashing around along the waterfront no one got much playtime in the water. Elly was bummed. Well, all the kids were bummed, but Elly was the one child most heartbroken over it. So this year I planned to make it a point to get the kids to the beach so they could get waterlogged and worn out. But Missouri nature has a mind of it's own and thunderstorms were predicted for the entire weekend. Niece Zoey had recently had surgery and wasn't going to be able to swim even if the rain didn't spoil the scene. The beach visit was going to be tricky.
Not long after everyone arrive, sister Marcy and I made a run to beach. It was cloudy but there seemed to be a break in the clouds, at least enough to afford us an hour or so before the rain came. We hurried everyone down to the beach. It wasn't much of a chore. All the kids were ready and raring to go. Well, all except Zoe who would be watching from afar, nursing that ailing leg. Poor kid.
Elly was ecstatic. She couldn't wait to get in the water, and out of the water. Like, several feet out of the water. Repeatedly.
This however, is most of what I saw of Garrett. It kind of made me nervous that I saw his feet more than his head, in a lake.
Well, I did see his sweet face occasionally. :-) He gave me his well-rehearsed-best smile for the camera.
But the rest of the time it was all feet, or watching him from a distance, enjoying time with his cousins. Good times :-)
Claire had been camera elusive all day, and the only shots I got of her were in the lake. It wasn't just fun at the beach. Well, it was all fun, but some of it was educational fun. Garrett has gown up seeing and messing with the mussels in the lake, but our Illinois family was infatuated with them. Even Roger, whose seen a lot in his young life, was totally amazed. At any rate, they were all enthralled, and it was great stuff.
Ally was all over the place. That's Ally. She is fearless, curious, and easily intrigued. She keeps Lacey hopping at a regular pace and it's sure that when her new sister arrives this fall, Lacey is going to really have her hands full. She's a wonderful mommy, so I am sure she will pull two little ones off like a breeze.
She's so stinkin' cute she's going to get by with everything she comes up with too. Meanwhile, relaxing in a chair beyond the beach, is niece Zoey. Poor Zoe. Tore her Meniscus, had to have surgery, and is now down for the count, for the entire summer. She loves to swim. It's got to be killing her to hang back with all that frolicking and laughter that's happening just a few dozen feet away. She's hanging tough but it's certain she would have rather have been swimming than sitting in that chair watching.
I turn to see a conversation taking place between two of my sisters. They are standing on the waterfront, watching the kids, and there is no telling what kind of snarky chat is going on here. These two are priceless. I love them both endlessly. It's like Marcy is saying, "You know it's true", and Amanda is looking at me like, "Are you hearing this?" No "Manda, I didn't hear, but I could only imagine.
And of course, Amanda isn't going to let me get by with a whole batch of images for the day without at least one, crazy, thought provoking image. It's a tradition. I expect it. I capture it for future reference. :-) Oh Amanda, honey, you just aren't right. But I do love you, just like you are!
A quick catch of Zoe tells me how she really feels about sitting out the summer with a bummed up leg. Poor kid. Can't feel bad enough for her. In pain, restricted, and missing out. Just caption these two shots. I think they should both be memes.
Memes. I tell you I am going to start making memes.
Amanda says she sees these looks all the time. Ah, the joys of having a preteen girl, an active one that's confined for the summer, at that.
Hayley and Hudson are just hanging out, watching Claire and the other kids in the water. Hudson's just a little too small it the britches for the lake already. But next year it's sure we'll have him digging sand and splashing like the rest of them.
Brother in law Jim always has that look of brotherly love for me. Ha ha ha ha. He's the only man alive allowed to get by with it.
I keep telling my oldest here, we need to put pony tails in that beard so he can get some air. He's intent on looking like ZZ Top's twin and he's pulling it off quite well too, I'd say.
After seeing my sister suffer one of the most horrendous losses in life, it's certainly good to finally see her somewhat at ease and getting the love and comfort she deserves. Roger has been a pleasant addition to our lives and I am grateful for the warmth he's brought to the lives of my sister and nieces.
Caught Marcy looking all serious and deep in thought. Loosen up sista. It's a holiday. Time to have fun. Stop all that serious contemplating.
All in all it was a great day. Zoey, while bummed I'm sure, was still full of smiles for me.
Amanda was having a relaxing day. She's got a smile that will light up a room.
And Hudson's day was fairly laid back. Hayley is just busy doing what she does. She's such a good mom. She takes a little time to give me a look.
Little Miss Ally, well, she spent a couple of good hours with her Mama chasing her around the beach. She swung in the swings with Daddy, picked up a gazillion items for examination, dug in the sand, and run out more energy in just a couple of hours, than you and I combined could produce in a week. She's just perfect in every way.
And Elly, well, she was more than a little happy that she got to play at the beach this year. She was so excited and played so hard. So I asked her, "Elly, how much fun did you have today?" And this is the smile I got. A picture's worth a thousand words, right?
When it started getting dark, we could see the neighbors getting ready to unload the fireworks and float them to the island to prep the show.
For the first time in almost two decades I spent the rest of the evening, even during the fireworks display, without a camera in my hand. It's the first time in more years than I can remember, that I don't have any fireworks shots other than the couple of failures on my cell phone.
Amanda and her bunch hadn't planned to stay and watch the show, but did. Marcy had planned to go home early too, but stayed. So instead of being displaced behind a camera, I enjoyed the show with them. I watched the wide eyes of all the kids. I watched Ally, so worn out from the day, that she fell asleep in the middle of all her ooooo's and ahhhhhhhs'. Good times. Really good times.
This year we sure missed Granny who didn't feel well enough to travel or brave the heat and humidity. We also missed cousins Dyllan and Hunter who couldn't make it. We wish you three could have made it and enjoyed the day with our fun loving bunch. I look forward to seeing your next year!
On a closing note, two drones hung out in the sky over the lake during the fireworks display. I haven't been able to find out who they belonged to or if there are any images. So if you know who and what, send me a comment and clue me in.
If you are family or close friend, and I haven't sent you the link to the gallery yet, just send me a message or leave a comment and I'll send it to you too.