Sunday, July 7, 2013

July Fourth Independence Day in Tennessee

My sister and I made it to our family's Fourth of July celebration in Lenoir City this year. Independence Day has always been a favorite for our family and my Aunt Tina's party planning is second to none for this particular occasion. She and David throw the best holiday parties for our family and the work that goes into making each one a success is tremendous. Thanks to them, I will never enjoy eating wings from a restaurant again. The food is always delicious but this year, they out-cooked themselves. Aunt Tina's cupcakes are better than the last ones she made, which were also delicious. They always are. The boys put on a fireworks show and they didn't have any neighborhood competition this year since we had our party earlier than the fourth. Not that there's ever anyone who bests us in the firework show department, mind you. Our patriotic contribution is made by a highly coordinated setting off of fireworks every year. Our show is always the best.

This year, The Fourth of July bore a sweet sadness that we all expected. Papa was not with us this year and we all thought of him as we made the best we could of the holiday he had enjoyed so much. About a month had passed since we lost Papa. The efforts of Aunt Tina and David to continue our family Fourth of July tradition were more necessary than ever this year. Our heavy hearts, our worries and cares, and our feelings of loss were eased by the continuance of our yearly family celebration of patriotism. We needed to celebrate the Fourth of July. We needed to laugh, to watch fireworks together, to talk of memories cherished and to slowly heal.

Aunt Tina and David,
Thank you for honoring this tradition this year.
Because of you, we found joy among our shared sorrow.
Because of you, we shared laughter and happiness.
Because of you, we honored the holiday that Papa loved so much.
Because of you, we kept the memories and celebrations alive.

For my family and for all who love Papa,
there is still hope.
There is still happiness.
There is still joy.
There are still beautiful memories to make.
There are still holidays to celebrate,
for Papa
for ourselves
and for his memory...

Thank you for sharing all these things with me on this Fourth of July.
Thank you for helping me heal.
I hope I can do the same now,
by capturing the moments we shared together.

I love you all.

These times we share are my favorite...

Little James.
Kaycie and Katie. To me, freedom is reflected by the excitement, joy, and carefree spirits found in these two little cousins of mine. Their giggles make us all smile and watching them have fun this year was simply wonderful!
The swimming pool is probably the safest place to watch our fireworks show. Should a rocket misfire, one need only dive beneath the surface to ensure safety. We don't have stray fireworks often, but even the best shows have potential for crazy mishaps. Of course, my cousins opted for the safest vantage point this year. Had I any sense at all, I would have joined them. :)
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air...
I snapped this photo of a candle torch against the flaming night sky.
David made these awesome torches that surround the swimming pool.
I'm totally going to copy his genius, crafty idea!
I love the angle of this shot-
Our firework show finale is unrivaled!
Kaycie and Katie sometimes put on rehearsed dance performances for our family. Both coordinated, talented little girls, these two entertained us by combining synchronized swimming with their performance.

My cousin Rachel and her dog, Britain. Pet portraits are tricky but I really love this one of them! 
Josh, James, and Layla. Layla jumped in the pool last year. She made several attempts this year but none were successful. Here, James looks worried she may take a plunge! :)

My sister, Tracie. My Fourth of July road trip buddy and fellow croquet-loser-friend. :)
My uncle David and Jessica's Josh. My Josh was upset that he had to work this year and miss out on our family's party. Here, the boys are formulating a strategy. Croquet is all about placement, aim, and alliances. This was my first time playing the game and I really enjoyed it!
I love this one of Rachel and Britain. Catching her in a candid moment, I snapped this picture after the dog licked her face and she giggled. Yeah, this one is super cute to me!
Meet the family! From left to right: Rachel, little James, big James, Jessica, me, Jessica's Josh (because we have 2 Josh's), Kaycie, and my sister Tracie. We played croquet and to everyone's dismay, Jessica won.

Here's the thing about Jessica...

Although she is beautiful, funny, smart, and fun,
she has a competitive quality that is well known among our family.

Now, we all like to win.
 Jessica lives to win.
 Winning is probably her favorite thing, apart from her husband and children.
"Winners have more fun," to quote my dear cousin.
She's right about that.

To understand this philosophy, one must assume that the opposite is also true:
Losers have no fun.
That part applies more to some than to others, as some are more graceful when defeated by an opponent.
Jessica exhibits no such grace or sportsmanship attributes, however, when she loses.
That is why it is best when she wins.
Jessica won when we played croquet this year.
How she won was a combination of natural skill and the meanness of a rattlesnake.

One should not allow one's croquet ball to land within inches of Jessica's...

for she capitalizes on this offense, making the most of her opportunities to send opponents in a ditch upon their next turn.
I say all these things not to offend dear, sweet, lovable Jessica.

I say them so that we all learn from our croquet mistakes.
As badly as we all tried to beat Jessica, it is best that we did not.

For our own safety, happiness, and well-being,

For monopoly boards everywhere,
I hope that Jessica always wins.

 (Note: Jessica is a sweet, kind, and giving person. She is also a great mother. I love her and hope she will not be angry with me for revealing her deep-rooted needs of winning at everything. I am a croquet loser, Jessica. There, I said it. I suck at croquet and you are the best at it. Now, we are even. :)
Even in the summer, bonfires are awesome.
Aunt Tina gets crafty with the kids and they make all kinds of awesome projects together. Kaycie and Kaitlyn made these patriotic candles as decorations for our party. Aren't they cute? :)
I got fixated on taking a picture of the wine bottle torch against the sky. Some turned out and some didn't but I like the end results, for the most part. Jessica's husband called me out on taking pictures for my blog on these shots. He was right- posting these was always my intention. I sometimes forget that my family reads my blog. Therefore, they know what I'm up to when they see me crouched in weird positions with my camera!

Sparkling Skies

Swimming Spectators
For My Family, in celebration of fun and freedom that is always found at our Fourth of July celebrations.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I stand by my statement that you are a amazing photographer with a great creative eye! Love you