Friday, July 6, 2012

Born Free!

Independence Day Celebration
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Bringin' In The Fourth

At Aunt Tina's house in East Tennessee...

Meet my little cousin, James. I told him to give me the biggest smile he could for this picture and must say, he didn't let me down! Josh and I went to Knoxville to celebrate July 4th with my mom's side of the family. My Aunt Tina has a love for holidays that is contagious and she always hosts Halloween and The Fourth of July parties at her house. This was the first year that Josh got to go with me to join in our family's traditional Independence Day Celebration...I have a feeling he'll be back again next year- I know I will- We all had a BLAST!

My cousins, Katie (formally known as Katelyn Rose) and Kaycee had grown so much since I'd last seen them. I realize that I sound like an old lady you'd want to avoid if you were these girls' ages! I feel older now that I look at them and remember them as little bitties. These two are best friends and are truly a joy to be around!

Little James (called such because we have a bigger James, too) stood spraying his water gun at passing swimmers. His aim is impeccable, so one is wise to only visit the pool when wearing a wetsuit.

Tony and David relaxing on the deck- David grilled mouthwatering burgers and sat here for a well-deserved break. Tony's break was also justified since he'd kept the kiddos entertained all day.

Looks like our cute little water sniper just shot a victim- his sister Katie,  and our gunman is now looking to see if anybody noticed. (I did!) No charges have been pressed so far. I think the victim sought revenge against her perpetrator- and eventually succeeded.

“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.” 

-Albert Einstein

Patriotic decorations were abundant at our annual celebration. We are all holiday enthusiasts- especially Aunt Tina, who cooked, baked, decorated, and invited a bunch of crazy relatives over to share one of her favorite American holidays Luckily, her husband David loves our parties enough to help prepare for such a big crowd! They're the best and so is this family tradition.

Tony and his daughter, Kaycee, played in the pool together all day. Swimming with active kids is hard work, but he kept up with his daughter to make sure she had a great time. She always loves spending time with our big family and I'm always excited to see her!

Looks like Kaycee got the best of her daddy! Tony relaxed on one of the many floats available, as he tried to regain energy needed to keep up with the energy level of his little girl. Kaycee recruited other playmates while her father recharged in some sunshine.

When he's without a water gun, James entertains himself quietly by playing with other toys that he likes to strategically place around the deck. Exhausted from hours spent watergun-sniping anyone within a two-foot radius of his position, Little Jame-sey (I can't help but call him that), took about a 10 second break. His resting period takes drastically less time than does that of other party-goers, whose older age lengthens their required re-cooperation spell.

My Uncle David- (we shorten this name with 'uncle), wore the most awesome blood donation shirt I've ever seen to our patriotic party. For Pete's sake, people...give blood...give freedom to others by donating! I should probably take my own advice on this. I've never donated my coveted, O+ vital juices. I'm sorry. Really, I's just that I feel lightheaded when I merely think of needles! I've made it a goal to donate this year...for Pete's sake. Poor Pete needs us!

James had a favorite toy that he'd brought to the party-Josh and I envied his impressive object, for neither of us had possessed such awesome play-things when we were kids. James showed us that, with only a toss of his ball- it would hit the ground with a new scorpion transformation. As if we weren't already fascinated, little James further explained that his prized possession would stick to anything magnetic. I was impressed with his next motion of locating objects that appeared magnetically sufficient to demonstrate his toy's superpowers. He first tried a water sprinkler, without success. Then he carried his cherished toy to a ladder that I swore would have worked to magnetically attract my tiny cousin's scorpion/ball. The intelligence of this child, to immediately identify all things that appeared to be magnetic- even to his 24-year old mentor...still mystify me!

This is probably one of my favorite pictures that I've ever taken of my husband. He spent hours entertaining two little girls who adore their own childhood-cooties way... Joshua has always said we'll end up having little boys...(not based on any logic, whatsoever, in my opinion) While watching him endure Katie and Kaycee's "torture" game (a game the girls invented, that is literal in it's name's interpretation), I concluded that my husband would be cutest when parenting our future little girls! Now, I'm conflicted with the determination of child gender that would be best suitable for my spouse's mentoring talents. He was also adorable when entertaining my little Baby James (a.k.a. 'Little James', 'Jamesy')...Sooooo, I've decided that no matter what sex our children end up with, Josh will be absolutely adorable with them! wifey sentiments are going on right now as I look at this picture. He'll make the perfect daddy someday. (Not anytime soon, family readers- so no freaking out allowed!) Just, you day.

Pool dolphin rides for Katie and Kaycee! Dolphin Joshy, (also re-named, like Jamesey, due to my need of adding -ey, souding endings to the names of people I love) - permitted his 'torturers' to hang onto his arms and shoulders as he ran against pool water currents to satisfy their demands for faster travel.

Katie's always prepared for underwater adventure. She and Kaycee wear their goggles and swim like fishies.

Pool races with Josh standing by to judge who will make it across the pool first. I think Kaycee was better than he expected when he agreed to race her- he won, but I don't know if he'll be so confident next time since she was so close behind him!

Josh is just as good a sniper as Little James. These pump water guns were a favorite for the guys.

My Aunt Tina's floor mat speaks the truth! She is known as 'Nanna' to the kids and they LOVE going to her house.

Meet Rachel and Big James' doggie daughter, Layla. She's a small pit bull with a heart 'o gold. I have a pit lab mix named Halle and Layla made me miss my big dog who had stayed home in Nashville with her Uncle Micah. I've heard horror stories about pits, but I have to say that they make the most loyal, cuddly friends. Their nature is protective and I always feel safe when I'm home alone- as long as my 'scary' dog is nearby. Luckily, Halle and Layla were raised by parents who brought them up to be our best friends! Isn't she just a cutie?

Guess whose eye this is. There are two pictures of eyes in this post that belong to two different people. Which one belongs to which party-goer?

Poor David grilled burgers and hot dogs in blistering heat that was increased to suffocating levels when temperatures increased near this grill. I took him a fan that sprays water- Hey, we needed our burgers- He was grateful to have a cooling mist and it gave him strength to finish feeding the mob.

Pretty eye #2: Whose is it?

Layla is a master of doggy paddling.

Water doggy contemplates whether she should jump or not...

Rachel tries to coax Layla into joining her for a refreshing swim...

All eyes on our best swimmer as she decides to try out the water!

James gives Layla a pep talk.

Dogs + pools = :)

Cool, clear water...

Nothing beats the sound of a child's laughter. We heard giggles of children all day at the pool.

His smile brightens our lives.

Josh and Kaycee, planning their next water gun attack.

Layla takes the plunge!

My beautiful cousin, Jessica and her husband Josh. We have 2 Joshs and 2 James. Actually, 3 is Papa, one is Little James, one is Big James. For our Joshs, they just have to work something out. Most of the time, they know who we're talking to when we just say Josh and look at one of them. They're clever that way. Anyway, Jess and her Josh are adorable.

Under the deck- yep, it's pretty down there, too.

My Uncle David (We just call him 'Uncle') holds on for dear life since nobody ever stays on a float long before being flipped over by mischievously sneaky relatives. 

Squinting in the Sunshine

Jessica would probably say that she doesn't like this picture. She's always camera ready, even when she doesn't know her picture is being taken. Sorry, Jess...but I like it and it's my blog so I get to do what I want. Besides, you look pretty.

See? Toldja so. Happy Jessica watches her kids swim and play in the pool. Yep, she's a mom of 2. I hope I can look as good after I have kids!

Josh didn't know I got this one, either. He was sitting close to Jessica and they both just looked so content while watching their kids, that I decided it would be okay to get a little stalker-ish with my camera. Josh loves to spend time outside, so I like this one of him with the tree near his profile.

My Josh sat under the shade to rest- he looks exhausted, but still attractive in this one. Looks like I just figured out how to distinguish our two Joshs from each other. My Josh and Jess' Josh. Yeah, I guess that'll work.

Jessica got up from her chair to sit in her hubby's lap. I'm glad she did, because this is my FAVORITE picture of them. I love how you can see her hands draped around his neck- she is somewhat blocked by her Josh's head, but the focus on this one is her hands...and the look of love on his face. I know, I'm cheesy like cheese bread...I can't help it. I guess sometimes it pays to be a camera-equipped stalker.

Tony and his daughter, Kaycee. She had tried to flip him over, but couldn't quite manage. My Josh decided to sneak up on them and help her toss her dad into the water. Tony didn't get to float for too long!

Jess' Josh's new spiffy shoes. I kinda want some pink ones, but still can't commit to the, uh....uniqueness here.

My Josh and Papa relaxing under the shade.

Oh dear God, could she be any more ADORABLE? I just wanna squeeeeeeze her!

James slowly swam over to her and I couldn't hear their little conversation. I imagine whatever these two talked about was just as cute as they were.

Sittin' on the dock of the bay....or pool. Sittin' on the deck of the pool...wastin' time.

I know very few people who can look this pretty without trying. Again, Jessica may not approve of this picture. Everyone is harder on themselves when it comes to pictures. Why is that, when everyone else just sees how sweet they are?

Back to the littlest pool princess- she's smiling here at her mom. Aww, just precious!

Another one of my favorite shots.

This is Gracie. She's Rachel's dog who lives at Aunt Tina's house. She enjoys lounging outside in the sunshine, long walks through the neighborhood, and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July.

She also likes being photographed and her relaxed personality made it easy to take several pictures of her, while doing another favorite canine hobby- porch sittin'.

Watching all festivities from her upper deck post, Gracie seemed glad to be the recipient of so much attention.

I think she looks excited here. It's funny how expressive dog's faces can be. Gracie was watching the kids play when she widened her ears and brightened her eyes for this picture.

Up close and personal. Gracie sniffed my lens and didn't seem to mind my intrusion into her porch lounging space.

SANGRIA. Blueberries and Strawberries created patriotic beverage coloring and sweet sipping for adults who responsibly celebrated this holiday.

Where we go to relax and enjoy!

My mom took this one when our annual firework show began- Cindy Cannon es mi madre. She's gooooood at photography, regardless of what she says. I wouldn't ever have tried to capture what I love on camera if it weren't for her!


...Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there...

Oh, say does that star spangled banner yet wave,

O'er the land of the free...

and the


Of the...


A wagon served as our rocket launch pad. I'm not sure if that would count as brave, but I didn't have the guts to light a firework from this wheel-based platform!

All firework pictures taken by my mater, Cindy Cannon. I've used Spanish and Latin now to say 'mother'. Here's why...I know the Pledge of Allegiance in Latin. Yeah, it's a totally useless talent I have that my middle school teacher made me learn. This knowledge has never been proven valuable- Until now, that is! ....Ahem..... here goes:

Fidem meam obligo
vexillo civitatium
Americae foederatarum
et rei publicae pro qua stat
uni natione deo ducente
non dividendae
cum libertate iustitiaque omnibus!
Yo prometo lealtad a la bandera
de los estados Unidos de America,
y a la Republica que representa,
una Nacion bajo Dios,
con libertad y justicia para todos.
That's Spanish. It has nothing to do with the picture. I can only talk about the picture in English- The kids made a lot of the decorations that were featured around my aunt's house. She's great at coming up with projects that they love to do with her!

Ich gelobe Treue auf die Fahne der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, auf die Republik, die eine Nation unter Gott ist, vereinigt durch Freiheit und Gerechtigkeit fur alle.- German Pledge of Allegiance. 
I don't know any other country's pledge, in English...or in their native language. I don't expect them to know mine, either. I do, however like having a secret ability (not so secret anymore) to say the pledge in languages that most Americans don't know. (including myself...apart from the pledge, of course- which is kind of pointless since I live in America where most people speak English. I want to learn to speak Spanish.) We Americans are lucky to live in a place of freedom. I personally don't care who wants to immigrate here. I don't blame them. My ancestors did it- I'm honestly not sure if they moved here legally or not. I don't care. I'm here now because some relatives of mine decided to break a few immigration rules, more than likely. I'm glad to live here. I'm glad you live here. If you don't and you want to, come on the land of the free, and the home of the brave. It's truly wonderful here.
Southern America- sit on the porch and stay a while, won't ya?

Head down to the pool to cool off from the Tennessee heat...

Enjoy a dog's company in a land where eating puppies is sorely frowned upon..I don't care if they taste good or not- dogs are better than most people and will not be accepted by Americans as a delectable entree. Especially this dog- Tater. (Ron White, po-tater salad? Look it up if you don't get it.)

Sit outside with your non-edible-in-America, canine friend. Relax because you are FREE.

This land is your land, this land is my land.

This land (and water) was made for you and me!

I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  -Abraham Lincoln
How often we fail to realize our good fortune in living in a country where happiness is more than a lack of tragedy.  -Paul Sweeney

If our country is worth dying for in time of war let us resolve that it is truly worth living for in time of peace. -Hamilton Fish

I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom.  -Simone de Beauvoir

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
Dr. Seuss

"The soul is healed by being with children." - English Proverb

James' magical transformer toy ball-that-turns-into-scorpion!

Uncle is so great with the kids- We love him to smithereens.

My Dad would call this a 'hen party'. I like hen parties. Holiday parties, however, are my favorite!

Katie holding Tater- I love the innocence of this picture, so pure and sweet. :)

She has her mommy's eyes. (They just so happen to match her daddy's eyes, too!)

Float noodle rides!

Whether you're American or not- there's something we all have in common: A desire for love, laughter, and peace- regardless of where we live. Aspirations of giving our children better lives than we have experienced- sharing joy that we feel in our hearts when they make us SMILE. :)
Regina Gail Cannon Hodge. Regina- Latin meaning- Queen, capital of Saskatchewan, Canada, also the name of one of my mom's former best friends. Gail- Gay, lively. My Grandmother's name that I proudly carry on after her passing. Cannon-Irish/English heritage name that may also mean 'wolf cub'- Cannon is also formerly known as O'Canaian... Hodge- 'famous spearman', or as Sam at Sam's Sushi in Nashville says, "In my country, your name mean shame."...So, I'm an American. I'm a mixture of who knows what. It doesn't matter...what matters is that my heritage is a jumbled combination of Cherokee Native American, Irish, English- and probably a number of other affiliations. I'm here because people of different nations were joined by LOVE. I live in America because they were brave enough to come here. I did nothing to deserve the life I am blessed to have...and I often take for granted what it's like to be free. Happy Independence Day to America...and to the rest of the world. We all deserve to live happily, no matter where we are. :)

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