Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Our 4th of July - Done Right

Finally, after years of mediocre 4th of July celebrations, we finally got it right! And yes, we've got pix to prove it.

But first, if you've ever had to spend a holiday weekend with a four-and-a-half year old who's going through a phase, then you know how we felt on Day 3 of the long weekend (and tell me honestly, is there an age when they don't go through a phase). On Day 1 we poured over the Events section of the local paper, critically assessing all the offerings - this one's too crowded; that one's too expensive; this one is outside and it's way too hot. Well, let's just say that on Day 3 we were ready for just about anything in order to get M busy.

First, we went to the Bond Park in Cary for an event that was called "The Old Time 4th of July" or something like that. At first it was kind of boring and crowded, plus we missed the children's parade. Unexpectedly, M got quite taken with the little Bond Lake and spent a while watching the ducks and throwing little twigs into the water.

We were just about ready to head home when the Doughnut Eating Contest was announced. Needless to say, M was only too eager to participate. But first we had to wait for 1-3 year olds to eat their doughnuts. Then it was the turn for 4-7 year olds. To my surprise, everyone got the same size doughnuts - the big, nay, giant ones, even the littlest kids.

Another thing that surprised me was M's adherence to the rules. To begin with, he waited very-very patiently for the doughnut to be tied to the string (oh, yeah, I forgot to mention - it was eating doughnuts without using one's hands contest). He then waited for everyone else to get ready (and there were lots and lots of 4-7 year olds) and not once tried touching the doughnut that dangled right in front of his nose. By contrast, some 5-year old girl nearby ate most of her doughnut right away, before it was even tied to the string and had to be issued another one.

But that wasn't all. When the contest began, most kids used their hands to hold doughnuts. But M is not like most kids. He did not, would not. He followed the rules and, whenever he felt like grabbing a doughnut, just clenched his fists. Needless to say, he lost the contest. However, I'd say that it was the classic case of "losing the battle to win the war" since he got to eat his entire doughnut quietly, enjoying every bite.

There were plenty of doughnuts left over after all the kids were done so the contest was open to the 18+ category. Wadda ya know! Chris decided to enter. He did really well and showed some amazing doughnut eating prowess. Yet he lost to some dude who seemingly inhaled his doughnut.

After a short break it was time for the sack race. I was worried 'cause M never tried anything like this and jumping isn't something he is very eager to do. But Chris encouraged M to enter the race and was absolutely right. So what that M came in dead last! He really loved the experience and didn't fall or trip once!

But it was getting very hot and after a celebratory hot dog and lemonade we headed home to cool off and get some more ice-cold water. We then drove to the Joel Lane House. Last year we went there, they had all sorts of cool period crafts and games and the whole living history thing going on. Except last year M fell asleep in the car, so we parked in the shade and then took turns running through all the festivities and hurrying back.

This year was very different. M participated in almost everything even though he felt very shy. First, we stopped by the old colonial kitchen and, if it was totally up to M, we would've stayed there for at least an hour. He loves this stuff. He knows now why we can't have an open hearth kitchen in the house, so now he wants Chris to build it outside for him.

We also toured the main house and looked at the kids' rooms. What impressed M the most were the fireplaces - one in each room, and the fact that back in the days there was no electricity. He then tried his hand churning butter, writing with a real quill pen and real ink, making a lavender-filled satchel, a rag doll, and a tin ornament and pushing the pedals of both the loom and the spinning wheel. And then he volunteered for Her Majesty's Army and got to march around with a real wooden musket that was painted red.

We thought that after such a busy day he would fall asleep on the way home. No such thing! Instead, M and Chris grilled (salmon) and, after a dinner, went to the yard for some fireworks (sparklers, mostly). Except he tried stuffing sparklers into the barrel of his toy rifle, pretending that he was loading a musket. He also insisted on calling Grandpa and requesting 2 more rifles - one for me (red) and one for Chris (yellow) and said that Xander, our cat, would just have to scratch the enemies.

So all in all, it was a great 4th of July. We just need to work on our doughnut eating and sack racing skills and the next year's 4th will be the best yet!

So here we are enjoying the fireworks.

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