Fourth of July and Beyond

Again this will be another post filled with photos and published for family memory's sake.  With Husband Jared and Thing 1 out of the country exploring Israel for almost two weeks and Thing 3 still in Costa Rica the remaining Things and I had decided that we would have our own little get away down South.  Not to mention we did need to return Madison to her family eventually as well.  Anyhow, it was the road trip of the summer and my first time taking on the fourteen hour plus drive myself.  I know, I know, I had two drivers with their learners permits in the vehicle with me but trust me when I say that would not have been good for any of us.  Ok, mostly me and my blood pressure, but that is entirely beside the point.  We hit the road and 15 hours later we arrived at dog camp, our fourth of July destination and the place our superb hosts call home.  Of course there were the usual stops, coffee, potty breaks and ooey gooey butter bars.  You get the picture.  

All smiles to have a respite from Sven! (that's our Volvo's name, because everybody needs a Sven)

The weekend's festivities began with  a cousin night swim and reluctant bed time following, only because the next day was sure to be filled to the brim with excitement.  And that included breakfast at Monell's.  Oh, Southern food how I have missed you.  After eating our weight in fried chicken and the like we rolled our way back to dog camp to prepare in proper fourth of July attire.  Thank you Aunt Natalie for the inspiration.  Then it was on to swimming, gardening, more swimming, eating watermelon, fireworks in the driveway, volleyball in the pool and the grand finale fireworks show as orchestrated by Thing 4 and Uncle Jeff.  It was a grand day celebrating our freedom!

Our breakfast table!

Poolside with Natalie.

Kiddie fireworks prep.

Autumn and her watermelon.

The fam bam and our impromptu watermelon picnic.

I can not even begin to tell you how long we waited for Thing 4 to actually attempt a back flip.  He didn't in the end but it was quite entertaining listening to him walk himself through the steps.

What Fourth of July would be complete without ribs and corn on the cob? 

BFF's waiting for the show!

Autumn all bundled up and ready for fireworks!

Just the beginning of the spectacular light display!  Way to go Uncle Jeff and Thing 4!

Madison and Thing 2 had some fun with sparklers when the rain subsided.  They're so artsy!

We watched a terrible dance movie the night before this photo was taken and Aunt Natalie just had to  show the girls her epic hair styling skills, side braids and diagonal part, courtesy of the 90's.  

Before we left Pappo had an art lesson with all the girls in his studio.  We love to paint!

So we left dog camp after two extremely full days, a stormy night, too much food and loads of fun.  We met the Durbins and reluctantly returned Madison to them after spending two and a half hours catching up in the Target parking lot.  True friends people, and honestly more like family.  We are so grateful for them. Then it was on to Franklin.  Thing 4 had gone to Fairview with Gpa and Mema on 4th of July to spend a few days helping Gpa with work.  From what I gathered, there was some work done, a long motorcycle ride taken, a pocket knife purchased and a couple rather large catfish caught.  Sounds like it was a great week for Thing 4.  Meanwhile, Thing 2 and I were in Franklin where we both were catching up with old friends and we were all enjoying the summer nights together. 

Summer night in Franklin, sprinklers, a slide, the sun and friends!

Thing 2 with Reilly and Caroline.  I love those smiles.  And I was able to spend an entire day with their Mama and another dear friend.  Smiles for everyone!  

Autumn, Gemma and I spent the next morning together exploring.  We started with breakfast and coffee for me of course, a trip to the park, a trip to the bookstore where animals were read to, a Spanish book was requested and trains were played with.  Home for a carpet picnic and an afternoon catch up with a dear friend of mine.  

Sisters.  Waiting "patiently" for Auntie Leanna to finish her coffee.

The boy's first pocket knife, a momentous occasion!

Catfish #1!  Never mind that he caught it trolling the pole immediately after the catfish food had been thrown out into the pond.  It is still a catch to be proud of.

Seven hours on the bike this day.  Quite a feat for my little man.

Thing 2 and I managed to catch an afternoon together to do some exploring in our favorite little downtown.  We had biscuits at Loveless with the family and then headed into Franklin for the rest of our day.  This fun antique shop caught our eye and with all the letters and animals everywhere we couldn't help but stop.  The girl spotted Krispy Kreme and insisted I buy her a donut. And then in the evening we all walked to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and live music on the square.  There was twirling and running and playing and laughing and singing and then ice-cream on the way home.  

Something to look at everywhere!

We love donuts!

Our next adventure was canoeing on the Duck River.  Thing 4 and his best buddy Blake joined us for the day and provided much entertainment for us all.  And by entertainment I mean they managed to flip their canoe just fifteen minutes into our float down the river and this Mama was scrambling to the shore to get it right before it filled with water and sunk, all while Thing 2 was pushed into spider webs and ants.  Yes, good times people.  If only it was captured on video.  After that excitement it was mostly smooth canoeing.  We found a rope swing and rocks to jump off, Thing 2 and I turned ourselves backwards a few times and in the end fun was had by all!  The boys left us for Blake's house and to ready themselves for the lake the next day.  Sven also decided to have some issues this day so he spent the next two days with Uncle Jeff's mechanic being fitted for a new alternator and a few new belts.  Thankfully that happened while we were in Franklin and not in the middle of nowhere Iowa.  Needless to say our trip was prolonged a few days and none of us were too upset about it.  Oh, the day didn't end there.  Thing 2 and I had our noses pierced and we had dinner at La Ha with our friends, laughing late into the night with one of their daughters who just graduated college.  Which is wild because just yesterday she was babysitting all the Things and making funny movies with them.  Sweet memories with even sweeter friends.

Blake, Thing 4 and Autumn.  She loves her cousin and his friend!

Celebrating our piercing with ice-cream of course!

Thing 2 and Abigail, on the Natchez Bridge.  Another sweet friend Thing 2 spent time with while we were in Franklin.  

The following day the Horel family left for a camping trip in the Smoky mountains, Thing 4 was on his way to Pickwick Lake with Blake and his family, Thing 2 was out with her friend, I had lunch with the Things former footie trainer and then I was home alone on a Friday night.  So I watched Netflix and watched the sunset and was ever so grateful for the week that we had been given.  Saturday Thing 2 had requested a trip into downtown Nashville, reminding me that she had not ever been.  You know, except that one time with Poppi and Nani when she was nine years old.  Tragic, I tell you.  Wink, wink.  I obliged and we spent the next few hours walking in an area I had only ran through during the Country Music half marathon and immediately was swooney over.  There was a quaint little farmer's market, little cafes and restaurants, ice cream shops, historic homes and The Peach Truck.  Yes please.  We purchased a bag of peach goodness that I had read about and set to planning what we would make with them.  From there we went downtown and drooled over all the cowboy boots, heard country music pouring out from all the honkey tonics and filling the sidewalks with a sweet twang and then headed out to Gpa and Mema's to cook dinner for them.  It was a good night sitting out on the dock, playing cards and listening to the sounds of nature. We rounded out our weekend with church on Sunday morning and family dinner and movie night with the Horels before we packed up the car to head North early Monday morning.  Taking with us more memories than I can count and a heaping dose of gratitude for all that He provided us with over the week.  Which in this case, as is the usual with us, meant time with family and friends and good food to share with them all.  

Thing 2 found this mural and we had the perfect photo op!

Our peaches.  You must get yourself some of these if ever you have the chance.  Really.  

A grilling lesson with Mema.

Our drive home.  This is what my co-pilots looked like a majority of the way home.  I'd say they were tuckered out from all the fun.  Me too.  Why is it that the drive home seems twice as long as the drive said destination?  

That concludes our summer road trip edition least for now.  

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