Blog Round-up: The Fourth of July

Summer is here.  It’s almost 100 degrees outside and this coming Wednesday is Independence Day (or “The 4th of July” as I always say).  Nothing screams summer like a blistering heatwave and fireworks!  The exclamation point to that sentence is that I finally have a child old enough to appreciate a celebratory salute to our country.

I have been scouring the internet for months in search of toddler friendly decorations and activities.  However compared to Christmas or Halloween, the 4th of July is largely ignored.  Note to self: start brainstorming ideas for next year’s 4th before I pack up the winter clothes.

Below are two of the more unique concepts I came across.  I like that both ideas are low cost and simple.  Two vital prerequisites for all holiday projects while my children are young.  One never knows what a toddler will be afraid of or decide to destroy.  Happy 4th!

From Lizard & Ladybug – sprinkles that pop in your mouth!  I consider this an activity since I’m betting Amelia will have great fun decorating our cupcakes.

Mason Jar Sippy Cups from Two Shades of Pink

Less Really Can Be More

For about six weeks I have been contemplating Husband’s Father’s Day gift.  I found many cool ideas scouring Pinterest and my favorite blogs, but the kids’ young ages and a rather paltry budget ruled out most of them.  In the end I grabbed my babies and our beloved dog for an outdoor photo shoot.   Simple letters spelling “DAD” let their personalities shine.

In what felt like a rare moment of easy harmony, we laughed and played as we took these pictures.  The result was a wonderful gift for Daddy and a precious memory for me.

The Birth Of A Friendship

From the moment I discovered I was pregnant with my second baby, I thought about what great friends he and my daughter Amelia would be.  Many sleepless nights I imagined them scrambling over each other as wiggly toddlers, embarking on great outdoor adventures together as children, and even greater adventures as young adults.  In the deepest, darkest parts of my conscience, I saw them supporting each other through my passing and long after I am gone.

As my due date approached though I thought less about friendship and more about the impact a baby brother would have on Amelia’s happiness.  At barely 18 months old, I worried the transition would be difficult.  When we finally brought Haiden home from the hospital, I saw first hand how a baby can upend a toddler’s world.  I distinctly remember wishing we’d waited a little longer to have our second child.  I worried their future relationship was already at a disadvantage, likely to be dominated by competition and rivalry.

siblingsThen yesterday after work I was rewarded with a video of Amelia and Haiden making each other laugh.  At first all I could do was laugh myself as their giggles got progressively louder and sillier.  Then this morning when I was saw the Weekly Photo Challenge topic was “Friendship”, it occurred to me that last night’s video was truly special.  I had seen…I am seeing…the birth of their friendship.

These early interactions, while silly and unassuming, are the threads that will wind together to form a bond I hope endures their lifetimes.  I wish I could guarantee their friendship becomes all that I imagined in those first few months of Haiden’s pregnancy.   I know I can’t and a part of me struggles to accept that truth.  Still I am deeply privileged to walk beside them as they learn about themselves and each other.  And hopefully, with my love and support, they will one day cherish each other as much as I cherish them.

Remembering the Dream

Flags“A survey cited by NPR shows Americans to be divided into roughly equal thirds on the question: Will you achieve the American dream? A third say they have, a third say they will, a third say they won’t.” If the Dream is threadbare, let’s weave a new one — NewsWorks.

After hearing this commentary on the radio I was astounded so many feel they have not, or will not, achieve the American Dream.   Isn’t the American Dream the opportunity to live in a country built on the principles of democracy and freedom?  A dream hard won by our ancestors centuries ago that we must nurture and preserve?

Which got me thinking.  How often do we talk about the advantages of living in America?  Sadly, I think the answer is not very often.  We love what is right about America, but we love to debate what is wrong.  I know this is true at my house.  The country’s economic and political challenges frequently monopolize our post dinner conversations.  And while Husband and I are both proud patriots, we seldom voice how fortunate we feel to have opportunity and freedom as the cornerstones of American citizenship.  That we are, in fact, living the American Dream.

I am not suggesting we ignore America’s problems.  But if we don’t make a point to include the good in our conversations, we risk losing sight of all we have achieved.