Sebastian's birthdays have almost always been spent with my side of the family as we have been getting together for the 4th of July since I was a kid. This year we stayed home since we're getting together in California in a few weeks and traveling 10 hours in a car with a 4-month-old is not anyone's idea of a relaxing long weekend. It was going to feel a little different not celebrating with everyone so I put some extra energy into making it feel exciting at home. We planned a full day to celebrate both Sebastian and our Independence Day and by the end we were all exhausted and content in the way one is after watching fireworks with thousands of other families whilst listening to the city orchestra play Sousa with all they've got.
Our day started the night before with decorating, wrapping presents, and blowing up a few balloons after the kids had gone to bed so that our early riser would get the thrill of waking up to that excitement. He kindly waited a whole hour before waking us up to get the party started. He opened presents and we face timed with some family before Brett took him to Manitou Springs for his first zip-lining experience.
Meanwhile, Ruby and I made his cake while Smith napped the morning away. Ruby got to decorate the first layer and apparently went with a firework sprinkle explosion theme. I then added the second wonky layer that was baked in a pie pan because I couldn't find my other cake pan, smothered it in cream cheese frosting, and reinforced things with strawberries. When your cake is looking awkward, add more strawberries!
We then rushed to decorate with streamers and set the table for a birthday lunch before the boys returned. Ruby LOVES this part and added special touches on her own while I nursed Smith.
We welcomed the boys back from their adventure and heard all about how brave Sebastian was gliding over the canyon with the American flag strapped to his harness. We had lunch and then watched Princess Bride during the hottest part of the day. Once Smith was down for another nap I got the big kids rounded up to make ice cream in a bag. My mom had sent us a recipe and I'd always wanted to try making it ourselves. Most of my memories on the 4th as a kid involved homemade chocolate and banana ice cream and I wanted them to enjoy that, too.
Two minutes of shaking ice and they were done. Too cold! Too hard! Oh, the agony! I finished the job and may have bribed them to taste their flavors. One was raspberry and the other banana. In the end they weren't fans of the chunks of fruit which meant I was able to enjoy some all by myself. Here's a link to a similar recipe if you're interested in helping your kids make their own or just doing it yourself because it's really pretty fun to watch it turn in your bag.
The kids opted for Bomb Pops instead. It was an unusually sugar-filled day but when you're celebrating a double holiday we throw the all things in moderation rule out the window!
Especially because S'Mores were on the menu for that evening! We grilled turkey and apple hot dogs on our new camp-sized grill by PoppyTalk and cooked sweet potatoes to use as buns, whole food style.
We visited with our neighbor friends and then walked a few blocks to a huge park to watch fireworks and enjoy the ambiance from hundreds of glow sticks and light up swords spread throughout the crowd. We could see fireworks going off in neighboring Manitou Springs and the sunset over the mountains was gorgeous. Brett took the big kids to a better spot once the fireworks started and Smith and I stayed put - he in his wrap and me in my memories from last year on the 4th.
We had just seen Brett off to Kuwait the day before and had driven all day to get to my parent's house in OKC to celebrate and distract ourselves from feeling so sad. The afternoon of the 4th I realized I was late and had my mom stop at the drug store to get me a test on the way home from dinner. That positive sign appeared and I cried happy tears.
The Fourth of July holds so many layers of celebration for our family. Getting to enjoy celebrating them together this year is what I'm most thankful for.