Sunday, July 31, 2011

Masala Update

Masala came home from the vet hospital this afternoon. He is groggy from the anaesthetic and in quite a bit of pain. The pain meds he's on make him loopy too and he's unwilling to put any weight or movement at all on his injured leg.

07/31/2011: The cone of shame.

He'll wear the cone for a couple weeks and we'll see how he's doing over the next few days to determine his pain med frequency. For now, we just want to keep him basically immobilized.

You see, it appears Masala was bitten by a large animal. Dog, fox, something definitely bigger than a cat. Initially the vet thought a hit by a car due to the tears in his skin. Once she had him opened though she saw the damage underneath was more severe and had to cut away quite a bit of leg muscle. There's a chance he will have a permanent limp.

07/31/2011: Masala's bite injury

We're very lucky his whole haunch wasn't torn off because under the skin there was a hole direct from the forward puncture to the rear puncture.

07/31/2011: Masala quarantine recovery room

We have a portion of our bedroom blocked off as a recovery room. He has food, water, litter box, blankets, towels, a heat light. Currently he's dragged himself into the corner of the walk-in closet so he's using none of it at the moment. Giving him meds is a pain but doable, getting him to drink anything is near impossible, food is just not going to happen.

But then I have to remember, it's been only 24 hours since his surgery. He has a painful road ahead of him, but he'll be OK.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

So. Tired.

Divisionals Swim Meet = Long long day at the pool. My folks came to cheer the kids on, over 2 weeks Nicholas dropped 12 seconds off his IM, and we had 3 DQs.

We were home by 2:30 p.m. when we found that our escaped Masala wasn't doing so well. He'd run out of the house at 5:30 a.m. when we left to the pool so there wasn't time to chase him down. Not that we could anyway, when Masala escapes, as it happens every couple weeks and usually for a couple hours, he runs around the house and under the deck or just rolls in the driveway dirt in the sun. When he gets too hot he'll come to the front or back door until we let him in. Today though he was stuck outside for 9 hours and while I fully expected him to be under Ian's car or sitting by the front door, I didn't expect him to be limping and bleeding. Masala has gotten "braver" (aka stupider) over the past few escapes and expanding his roam zone.

We thought he'd gotten into a fight with another cat (we have several wandering felines), but the ER vet thinks he was hit by a car. He's functional but damaged, so Masala is spending the night at the ER after some reparatory surgery. Tomorrow he'll be sporting a stylish Elizabethan collar.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

2011 Prince William County Concert Band Camp

She's the flautist in the teal jeans.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

L. Clarke's Contredanse

The Emerald Isle

King's Row

Year of the Dragon

Pocahontas "Colors of the Wind"

Angelic Festival

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Departure from the Windy City

Originally the plans were to leave Chicago on Saturday. We cut our trip short and left on Thursday after having completed our primary task: see relatives.

On our way back from Madison on Wednesday I wanted to stop and buy cheese. During our drives we'd passed Cheese Chalets and Cheese Castles, but once I decided "OK, we'll stop at the next one" they were no longer to be found. Wisconsin may be the Dairy State but it's not the only place with cheese, so we wrapped up our Chicago time on Thursday morning and headed south to Indianapolis.

Hello Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana, with it's dairy barn and birthing barn, all manner of kid fun stuff, and apparently a Colts fair going on. Cheese was on my mind.

7/14/11: Fair Oaks Farm, Indiana

7/14/11: Fair Oaks Farm, Indiana

What you can't see is the container of cheddar cheese curds at the bottom. There were cheese curds in Madison at a gas station stop, but they were mixed with various dried meats and if there's anything I like best it's having pure, untainted curds.

7/14/11: Fair Oaks Farm, Indiana

The farm charged $10/adult for the tour of the milking barn plus an additional fee to tour the birthing barn, so we stuck with our cheese purchase safely tucked in the electric cooler in the car and returned to the highway.

Isn't it weird to see these photos with just 3 kids in them?

With our stopover far off in Wheeling, WV there was no way we would get there direct. After a lovely tour through abandoned downtown Dayton (it looked abandoned) thanks to road work and a GPS that once again proved it needs updating, we arrived at the National Museum of the Air Force/Wright Patterson AFB an hour before closing.

An hour isn't enough to see a portion of one exhibit, but we made do and got in some exercise.

7/14/11: Air Force Museum, Dayton

7/14/11: Air Force Museum, Dayton

There are So. Many. Planes. On the ground. Hung from the ceiling. On blocks. None of us are true aerophiles aside from Ian, but even so the museum is fascinating. One exhibit caught Katherine's attention, the portion on WWII AF POWs and concentration camps. It brought up an abbreviated history lesson to the boys as well. Did you know that the AF Museum has an actual "40 and 8" rail car? And the cases about the POWs and their creations (photo 4 especially) caught everyone's attention. In the lower left corner of photo 4 is a mousetrap both awesome and horrifying.

Our plan was to eat at the museum cafeteria but our delay prevented it. So we made do with another mid-West icon.

7/14/11: White Castle sliders, Ohio.

It was just as bad as the last time I ate there 17 years ago. For an establishment built in the design of a castle you'd think there would be some charm to the place. Not so. And the food... oh my.

I guess it was fitting that we rounded out that meal with the epitome of ick desserts.

7/14/11: Nothing better than freeze dried ice cream.

I truly believe it's a ruse that astronauts have eaten these styrofoam foods anytime within the past 30 years. But who cares. There are still people who buy it (yep, that's us) and eat it (us again) and take photos of it (um, yeah, me).

We pulled into Wheeling around 9 p.m. There is nothing there. Well there is a college around in the hills somewhere, and the midnight showing of HP 7.2 seemed to prove that with the throngs of apparent college kids filling the seats. But aside from the college we didn't see there is nothing in Wheeling.

No wait. There are deer in the road. And live ones at that.

7/15/11: Wheeling, West Virginia is quiet.

And they have Tim Horton's. A Canadian chain that is making it's way through the U.S. (but not to our part of Virginia yet), they are compared to Krispy Kreme. Or Dunkin' Donuts. Or some such doughnut place. People rave about them.

We started our last day with a box of timbits (aka doughnut holes), coffee and juice.

7/15/11: Tim Horton's timbits for the ride home. Wheeling.

And ended our day at home. The cats were alive. The gerbil was still with grandma. Now we wait until Rebecca comes home to finally feel like the trip is done.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chow Time in Chicago

The first evening we were in Chicago we marched our way down the street to Rainforest Cafe'. It was familiar and since the one closed at Tyson's Corner the kids have missed it, as much as it can be missed when mentioned maybe twice a year. The restaurant was nearly empty though we had a long wait to be seated, and the A/C didn't work. I understand humidity in a place with waterfalls and pools, but the air was sticky and warm and not at all comfortable. It was late, we were tired, the portions too big, and it just wasn't the best choice.

Monday night, Rebecca's last night with us, we were also wiped out. That was the day we'd spent in New Berlin, WI. We chose The Melting Pot. I know they exist around the nation, but we've never been and after our Hot Pot experience in Beijing the kids like cooking their own food.

If only that translated to home.

7/11/11: Dinner at Melting Pot, Chicago

We did the full meal... a cheese course, a meat and veggies in oil course, and a chocolate course. Though our server never showed (the hostess ended up being our server after 25 minutes of waiting) and the food took forever (how is that when it's all raw?) it was a great meal. I'm not sure what I expected, perhaps something as overwhelming as that Amazing Race episode, but there was variety in foods and sauces and dips, and the s'mores and dark chocolate dessert fondues were so satisfying.

7/11/11: Dessert at Melting Pot, Chicago

It wasn't a "Chicago experience" but it was fun for us all the same.

Rebecca did miss out on our "Chicago experience" on Wednesday night. Gino's East on Wells St. with it's crazy expensive tiny pies where one deep dish "slice" is a meal in itself. The slices ooze all over the plate so they are very much a fork and knife establishment.

7/13/11: Gino's East on Wells.

It's also a place where you're encouraged to write on the walls.

7/13/11: Gino's East on Wells.

All the kids added a little something of their own.

We met an interesting character at Gino's, the host, Rob. Rob is Irish. He's very Irish. He's so Irish that as a host he has little to say but "Party of 5?" and Gino's likes it that way because they've told him not to talk much because no one can understand him.

We know this because when he said "Party of 5?" we looked at each other and said "Irish?"

And because he was so adorable with his blonde hair and Irish accent and smiling eyes, we dogged Katherine into taking a photo with him. She told him some story about doing some project for school (and then remembered it's summer break, d'oh).

Katherine and Irish Rob at Gino's East

That won't do.

After a minute Katherine decided she felt bad about lying to him. As he passed the table towards the kitchen, she called him over and admitted her deceit and said she just thought he was cute. Seriously, at the table with all of us sitting about. He seemed tickled and so we asked him about Ireland. His initial shock was that we knew he was Irish.

Us: You're from Ireland?

Him: *shocked* How did you know?

Us: Uh, you spoke.

Him: I'm told not to talk because no one can understand me.

Us: Seriously? We understand you just fine.

Him: *disbelief* Have you been to Ireland?

Us: Not yet. Aside from Dublin, where would you recommend.

Him: Not Dublin.

Us: Oh... OK.

Him: *pulls over a placemat and starts drawing a map of Ireland* ... with that part up there... England...

And he tells us to make our way west to Galway ("That's where I'm from, Galway City") then south to Limerick and Cork.

Him: Great pubs all along the way. Best to be 18 though to enjoy them.

Us: *looking at Katherine* Guess we'll have to wait to get to Ireland until you're 18 then.

Her: *appalled*

He had duties to get to but stopped by a couple times to see how things were going.

Katherine: How could you say that!?

Us: *with a touch of parental evil* Well, you're not 18 yet, are you?

She is regularly mistaken for 18 or even older. She likes it that way. Silly girl, try to enjoy being 15, OK?

As we left Gino's Katherine asked Irish Rob how to say good-bye in Gaelic. He tried to teach us Sla'n (the accent goes over the a) pronounced "schlawn" but I fear we mangled it anyhow.

If nothing else, we mixed up his evening a bit and he provided a buzz to our table as well. So, here's to you, Rob, thanks for an interesting evening!

7/13/11: Gino's East on Wells.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Band Camp

Say what you will about band camp, but Katherine loves it. Today she started this year's camp. Here are clips from last year's 2010 Prince William County Band Camp.

She's the blonde flautist in the middle.

O'Reilly's Palisades Overture

Stein's Stormchasers

Grice's Curse of the Scorpion

Osterling's Gateway March

Shaffer's Rise of the Vulcan

M. Williams Fanfare and Finale

Standridge's Afterburn

It's an awesome amount of music to learn in 4 1/2 days.

I can't find the flute section piece but here are the trumpets. Trumpets have a notoriously difficult time I've found. These kids are pretty good.

This year one of Katherine's pieces is Hedwig's Theme. And her flute section instructor is the girl who just graduated from Gar-Field and was Katherine's idol in the Marching Band.

Chicago Day

Last Tuesday we actually spent in Chicago city. We dropped Rebecca off at the airport for her trip to Denver first thing in the morning. We'd planned an hour and half to get her from the hotel to her gate, after all it's a domestic flight and she didn't have any bags to check, right? The security lines in O'Hare are miserable. As we jogged up to the gate we heard over the speakers that anyone not getting on her flight Right Now was going to lose their seat. So much for farewell photos or time for nerves to set in. Rebecca was both excited and not about this trip. It was the actual traveling on her own that had her nervous. We didn't purchase the $100/each way minor care package since we walked her up to the gate at our end and it was a non-stop 2-hour flight, but she was still anxious. As it turns out, because she was the last one boarded her bag was checked anyway requiring a stop in baggage claim at the other end. She called Ian a little frantic...

7/12/11: Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, Chicago

...due to being sent to another gate in Denver rather than towards the exit, but in the end all was well and she met up with her friend. We tried to be sympathetic while at the top of the Navy Pier ferris wheel.

7/12/11: Katherine and the boys in the back in the wet zone.

...and while on the SeaDog Extreme speed boat.

7/12/11: The "extreme" speedboat ride meant everyone got wet.

...and while walking around town seeing neat Stuff.

7/12/11: Street musicians, Chicago

7/12/11:  Chicago architecture

7/12/11: The original Water Tower.

Much like Pittsburgh, Chicago has a ton of awesome architecture, like the original Water Tower buildings.

We had lunch at Bubba Gump's at Navy Pier, and it brought back our time in Makati City, Manila. We walked along Lake Michigan, past Olive Park Beach and to the Hancock Building before returning to the hotel.

There's so much more to see in Chicago, we just didn't have the time. The boys really wanted to bike along the lake and stop at the beach. The Adler Planetarium was calling as well. With our families in Wisconsin and Indianapolis we'll be out that way in the future so here's hoping we can add another day in Chicago to our itinerary.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 11th - Babcia's 78th birthday

I guess the question begs, why were we in Chicago this week at all? We have no family there (that we know of). Originally the plan was to combine seeing our family up in Wisconsin during the week with a bunch of my "imaginary" friends gathering in Chicago that weekend. For several reasons we ended up cutting the trip short so we just saw family and missed my Girls' Weekend. A huge bummer.

Last time we visited family we stayed for an overnight in Milwaukee (my family) and overnight in Madison (Ian's mom). This time we figured we'd check out Chicago and do day trips up. With the longer stay in Chicago it made perfect sense. With the shorter stay, well, that's a lot of driving crammed into 3 days but we managed. We don't plan to come out this way next year before leaving to Jordan, nor do we plan to come back to the Midwest during our tour in the Middle East, so it could be as much as 5 years before we see them again. So, it was one of those trips that had to be done.

Wednesday we drove up to Madison to see Ian's mom and didn't make it there until noon. The plan was also to see my cousin who works in the city but there just wasn't time to get-together. As it turned out, the trip back to Chicago took an hour longer than the trip up did.

7/13/11: Madison, WI

By this time Rebecca was already in Denver, Colorado spending time with her best friend from India who had just returned from a tour in Venezuela.

We had lunch down the road at a custard stand that also sold hamburgers, hot dogs, and the Wisconsin favorite, deep fried cheese curds.

7/13/11: Madison, WI

Then meandered across the street to take part in some challenging mini-golf. Seriously, this place had 3 courses with slides, tunnels, moving bits and loads of water hazards. It was a great way to stretch our legs.

7/13/11: Madison, WI

We saw Grace's new apartment, a spacious yet cozy space for one. She was happy to have some company and it was good to see her happy and in a nice place.

Last Monday, as it happens, was my grandmother's 78th birthday. With us coming out, the whole family minus 2 cousins (both at work) gathered to see us for the afternoon, and thereby also spend the day with Babcia on her birthday.

7/11/11: Celebrating with great-grandma on her birthday

My aunt provided a huge spread for lunch and the kids played with the football and badminton, gathered mulberries, and cooled off inside with games, cake and ice cream.

7/11/11: Hanging out with the family in New Berlin, WI

7/11/11: Playing games to keep out of the heat.

7/11/11: Ian spent time with boys.

All the kids aside from my own are my cousins. I was 11 when my first cousin on this side was born, so they all range from 26 years down to 4 years old. My uncle has the majority of them, 10 of the kids are his and each one is wonderful with their own talents and interests. The older one on the bench wants to be a cryptozoologist and he talked Ian's ear off about his plans to find a living dinosaur.

These two were adorable together. Big Jonathon and Little Jonathan.

7/11/11: The two Jonathons/Jonathans

Babcia stole off with Katherine a bit for a walk and a chat.

7/11/11: Katherine spent time with Babcia

My grandmother is an amazing person. I know people say that all the time for their family members, but it's true.

Born in 1933 in Poland, she and her family were corralled by invading Germans during WWII and moved from their family farm to a tiny village in Germany to work. My great-grandfather was good with horses, so he was tasked with caring for the horses of the military folk there, my grandmother worked in the gardens. My grandmother says they were treated relatively well in Germany, they had several rooms to live in, the area was nice, they didn't go hungry. The Germans they encountered were not cruel and so when the Allies arrived she and her family were well-prepared to make their way to America.

It was here in the U.S. that she met my Czech grandfather who had fought for the Polish army in WWII in Italy and North Africa, he was 17 years her senior. He died when I was a teen, from leukemia. They had 3 children and I was their first grandchild. I also knew my great-grandfather. A strong man who lived on his own until he died and always smelled of sweet pipe tobacco.

But that doesn't tell you much about my grandmother. She's sweet, so sweet she finds the good in everyone and if she doesn't have anything good to say she really does say nothing at all. She's funny, it still catches me by surprise (why is that?) when she passes off a joke in her heavily accented English. She's smart, she didn't have much in the way of formal education, but she knows stuff, lots of stuff. I would have done so much better had I, as a kid, paid more attention to her. She tried to teach me Polish, I fought and now I so wish I could speak it. She tried to teach me to crochet, I tolerated that better but it was only as an adult that I really took to it. She tried to teach me to bake and cook and sew and garden and prepare freshly caught fish, and I let it all slip away. I didn't appreciate her then the way I do now.

She sees all. I guess that comes with the territory of raising 3 kids full-time and knowing intimately a dozen grandkids. She's encouraging. She makes suggestions without being pushy, she's adventurous with just about everything. My folks take her on a trip every few years, the last one was her first time going back to Poland. We were supposed to meet up with them that trip, what better tour guide than a native speaker, where they also met up with all the extended family still living around Krakow. I know my kids wouldn't have appreciated the significance of that trip, but I would have.

She calls every few months just to say Hi and tell me about her latest activity whether it's a walk or a new watch or what my cousins are up to, and I look forward to hearing from her. My grandmother is amazing and I'm glad I know her.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

On the Road Again

Chicago is a nice town. The traffic is lousy getting into the city, but once there it's very walkable. The Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown is accessible to everything a tourist might want, and if it's not walkable, rent a bike from the Navy Pier (or where ever else they are) and bike around. Everyone's doing it.

It's roughly 5 hours from Columbus to Chicago via Indianapolis. Guess what they have in Columbus? The Blue Jackets. We stayed longer than planned for a mall store to open at noon so Ian could purchase a Blue Jackets T. Guess what, we also walked around downtown Chicago to purchase a Blackhawks T for Ian. This is what we're reduced to. At least he was easily convinced he did not need jerseys for said teams.

We had a couple other stops on our way out of Columbus too. Ian heard about Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. With a few minutes to wait before it opened, we crossed the street to Java Jan Gourmet Coffee where we chatted with the proprietress Jan who was working alone on Sunday morning, made a wicked good mocha frappucino, and talked about the poor quality of Starbucks' products. It was nice to hear she's doing so well she's opening a second storefront somewhere else in the Columbus area. She sold chocolate covered coffee beans that were also quite tasty.

7/10/11: Coffee stop in Dublin, OH while waiting for the ice cream shop to open.

At 11 a.m. Jeni's opened.

7/10/11: Jeni's awesome ice cream shop, Dublin, Ohio

And splendid they were too. This shop is for those with an adventurous ice cream palate. I'm sure they have a delicious vanilla, I didn't notice. But the chocolate with cayenne? Awesome. And how about the cherry lambic? Better than awesome.

7/10/11: Some of Jeni's flavors

The shop itself is unimposing. White walls, little decoration, just fridge cases with some of the best flavored ice creams you'll ever have. Well worth the stop and the wait, the kids were disappointed we didn't visit again on our return trip. We packed up a pint of Cherry Lambic and a pint of Buckeye for later.

More driving.


7/10/11: Skyline Chili lunch stop in Ohio.

The kids weren't all the impressed. Are all Skylines kind of run down and shabby looking? And the food, well, I think Hard Times comes pretty close to the same. We can say we've been.

Wind farm.

7/10/11: Wind farm north of Indianapolis.

Eventually we made it to the Windy City. We all needed a stretch so the kids swam in the pool then dinner at Rainforest Cafe a block away. All in all a good day. The kids made it through Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix before we parked, very little bickering went on over the 14 hour drive though Becca did complain quite a bit how uncomfortable she was. Made me wish we'd kept our Sequoia, though the gas guzzling would have been painful in its own way.

And of course they were happy to be in a hotel again. Little travelers they are, they were ready for a change of scenery from home.

Friday, July 15, 2011


We're back!

Wait, you didn't know we were gone? Well.

There was a lot of driving this past week. After the crazy 4:30 a.m. wake-up to set up the pool for last Saturday's swim meet, then accomplishing said swim-meet, we packed the car for our trip west. Not west as in West, but our Chicago destination with an overnight in Columbus there and an overnight in Wheeling back.

As all good trips are wont to do, ours was blocked out by the establishments we patronized and the foods we ate.

The meet didn't end until nearly 1 p.m. so even with quick showers and changes and a complete crap-in-trunk exchange, we didn't hit the road until after 2 p.m. Our Embassy Suites destination in Columbus was a mere 8 hours away and we crashed hard upon arrival at 10:45. Honestly, there's nothing much to say about 8 hours in the car. Historic Cumberland Maryland needs an overhaul even for being historic, it just looked run-down, but the Wendy's there was just fine. Roads in West Virginia are good and fun to drive with all the ups/downs and banks. It's far more fun to drive in West Virginia than it is in, say, Ohio. And you can drive 75 mph in West Virginia which gets two thumbs up from me. On our return we did stay the night in Wheeling, WV which is a nicer tiny town than Historic Cumberland, but that could have been because mostly what we saw out the Springhill Suites window were trees and a some deer.

I digress. Simply stated, 8 hours in the car is dull. It's dull for the driver and it's dull for the passengers. A couple months ago we replaced the DVD player in the car (the first wouldn't recognize any disc but a cleaner) so the kids had the daunting task of watching all 7 Harry Potter movies before the final installment released last night. Oh the difficulties my children face.

Yeah, eight hours in day one was plenty. We passed a severely jack-knifed tractor trailer that seemed to have toppled and spun and crunched and blocked both lanes. There were a few cars and buses attempting to turn and drive backwards to the new detour though one bus laden with Indian tourists bottomed out on the median and effectively created a bus-bridge with floating tires. Those folks had a long night ahead of them. We were very blessed with our trip. Aside from heavy traffic going into Chicago... there is no good time to enter Chicago, it didn't matter if it was morning, afternoon or night the traffic into the city was slow and congested... we didn't hit any accidents or serious slow downs or even any poor weather. There's a ton of construction along I70 and the other roads we took, but they were very manageable. Traffic cops were out in droves and we saw plenty pull over other cars in our rear-view mirror. For the 24 hours total we spent driving so many things could have gone wrong and nothing did.

We made it to Columbus fine. We slept blissfully and Sunday finished the last 5 hours as we started the actual vacation.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Long Celebration Weekend

Every year Ian gets fireworks for his birthday. They aren't exactly for his birthday as they're usually the day after and those shooting them off don't quite know it's his birthday, but still, it's kind of cool anyway, right?

His birthday is the 3rd of July and this year he turned 38. It's ok, he's a guy, he's not sensitive about his age. His birthday was a day of presents, watching "X-Men: First Class" at the AMC and noshing strawberry cheesecake. The evening before was a time for the Belgian bistro, the Cock & Bowl, in Historic Occoquan.

There's nothing better than eating outdoors, fresh moules frites, delicious beers, and a tasty dessert to share.

7/2/11: Dinner at Cock & Bowl

The mussels were offered in an assortment of sauces. Mine involved Gruyere, Ian's had wine and mushrooms.

7/2/11: Dessert at Cock & Bowl

As the designated driver and non-birthday-person, the A&W was mine. Ian had our favorite raspberry beer, Lindemans Framboise. Yeah, I was jealous. But that was OK because we had a bottle of our own waiting at home which we shared on the 4th with my parents.

Ian's birthday on Sunday was the quiet day with presents and a movie.

7/3/11: More Ian gifts.

We were all pleasantly surprised by how good X-Men turned out. I wasn't sure I'd care, the whole "let's take a comic book and make it into a movie" thing is really getting old, but they pulled it together. I'm still not excited about the Captain America one, and we didn't bother with Green Hornet, Green Lantern or any of the other recent live action comic book silliness.

For the 4th we had my folks over for some grilled meat and sides and dessert.

7/4/11: 4th Lunch

While the kids waited for food to be ready, they painted some cute little animals we'd picked up from the craft store.

7/4/11: The kids painting.

If I remember I'll get a shot of their finished products.


7/4/11: Singing Happy Birthday to Ian and me.

7/4/11: Why is Katherine in the center seat for our cake??

Someone tell my why Katherine gets center stage for that photo when her birthday is in February?? Silly kid.

Satiated and with my folks off to their house, we packed up the car to drive to Dolphin Beach.

7/4/11: Waiting for fireworks at our neighborhood beach.

If you look closely you see the green hill in the distance and beyond that is a pale line of more people on the opposite side of the fireworks line. We sat over there last year, it's on the golf course and more "walkable" from home (because you can't cut across the course where the fireworks are set up to reach the beach). Walkable in the sense that yes, you can walk, but it takes nearly an hour and you do the return trip when it's still 90 degrees in the dark with bugs swirling about. This year we drove and parked a couple blocks away from the beach entrance. So much easier and plenty of room on the hill even just 30 minutes before. Some folks arrived at the beach at 9 in the morning to secure a spot at the picnic tables, which I couldn't really understand, we had a fine spot for the 10 minute show with an easy walk back to the car as the clouds started dripping. The girls disappeared as soon as we arrived to hang out with friends, but the boys stuck with us.

7/4/11: Jonathon took a photo

7/4/11: Nicholas took a photo.

You can't beat that kind of weekend.