Just about every Fourth of July was spent in Lexington, Kentucky when I was growing up. Mom and Dad would pack us up and we’d drive eight hours to my grandparents’ house. It was convenient because Baba was born on the Fourth of July and all my cousins were out of school, so it was a god excuse to all get together and it was generally the only time my extended family got together. I’ve got countless wonderful memories of summers spent in Lexington.
That house was torn down a couple years ago. Pap died six years ago and Baba died just a couple months ago. Sadly, the number of times I’ll go back to the city of my birth is likely very limited.
But I love the tradition, and so we’re trying to make a new tradition where my family all gathers at my parents’ house in Rougemont for the Fourth.
The weekend started when Tristen and I stopped by Amanda’s to pick up Milly then headed on up to the Rouge.
Tristen drove there (and back) because she didn’t have any Dramamine and does better when she’s driving. We all did a lot of singing from Milly’s playlist to pass most of the time. Milly did great and didn’t get very bored on the way there.
I was a bit distracted and forgot to tell Tristen when to exit, so we went through Durham up Guess Road instead of Duke Street/Roxboro Road. Still, we made good time, and Erin was the only other sibling who was there when we got in. She brought her roommate’s dog, Lecter, who looks as much like a serial killer as a dog can. We also met Mom and Dad’s new dog, Ralph. He’s a cool little dog, but he nervous pees when you pet him. Adam got in a little later and Andra, Josh, Jackson and Addy got in in the evening.
Tristen and I ran to the Walmart in Roxboro to grab a few things. Milly had told Tristen about some Fourth of July crafts she wanted to do and Dad had a few extra things that needed to be picked up. Not surprisingly, Milly wanted to stay at the house and play with Auntie Rin. They were playing with a stuffed cat of Erin’s when we left.
Milly got to explore some wildlife. Mom and Dad’s pool hasn’t been cleaned out in forever and frogs have kind of taken over. There are tons of tadpoles in it and lots of little frogs with stubby tails. Milly was able to get one or two of those. She also found an albino caterpillar and some fairy jewels.
I was going to take Milly and Tristen out on the four wheeler, which Dad and I had gone to get from their friends Don and Dell. Mom informed me though that there was now a law that no kids under 14 could ride on a four-wheeler, which sucks because Milly had been on it before. Milly didn’t seem too upset about me and Tristen going until her grandparents asked her to shell green beans with them.
Tristen and I were out on the trails for a while. We stopped by the cemetery and looked at the old graves of people who had been born in the 1700’s. The tobacco curing shed very close to that had collapsed in one corner, which really bummed me out. It had always been the best structure back there, very complete and sturdy looking. The ground inside it had always been packed dirt, no vegetation growing in there at all. Even though it was collapsed, you could still smell tobacco in it.
We drove by some other landmarks and went a little further than I had back there before. We actually ended up back and Don and Dell’s.
As much as Milly likes playing with her aunts and uncles and grandparents, she was, of course, most excited to see her cousin, Addy. They played, pretending to be in a rocket ship and other such things. They didn’t fall asleep until later than I liked, but it’s summer and it’s July 4th and it’s Addy, so…
Mom had to get up early, but the rest of us played Uno with Baba and Pap’s old Uno cards. I didn’t realize they were my grandparents’ cards until someone said something about it. It was incredibly cool to discover that because one of my memories from Lexington summers is playing Uno in the dining room with my grandparents and the rest of the family. Anytime Pap would change the color to blue, he would sing, “Am I blue.” I did that once and Dad got a kick out of it.
The group petered out until it was just me, Jackson, Erin and Andra. I couldn’t tell if Jackson was impressed with our renditions of Don’t Stop Believing, Bohemian Rhapsody and Free Falling or not.
I went upstairs to find that Milly and Addy had left the bunk bed in the back room and had gotten in the bed with Tristen. Addy’s arm was flung over Tristen’s neck. I slept on the floor.
The next day was the actual Fourth of July. Josh and I were the first parental types up and we decided to show the girls how to use the bow and arrows Adam had bought them for Christmas. We showed them how to hold the bow, how to nock the arrow, how to properly draw back the string and told them that you don’t draw when anybody is in front of them and you don’t go in front of anyone when they’re drawing their bow. They got to the point where they were able to shoot them a little, but 15 pounds is a bit tough for six-year-olds. I think Josh and I enjoyed them more than the girls did. I hit a couple cardboard boxes. It was fun.
Everyone else eventually got up. Josh had also brought some throwing knives so he, Jackson, Dad, Adam, Tristen and I took turns throwing them at some pallets and particle board. Adam hit the first couple of his and most of us eventually got a few to stick. I seemed to do best with less throwing force and more of a wrist flick, but knowing that didn’t make it that much easier. My favorite throw of my own was when I did sort of a baseball pitch out of the blue and stuck it.
Around noon or so we packed up a bunch of food and such and rolled up to Don and Dell’s. We spent most of the day in the pool. A lot of that time was spent throwing a ball around to see what streaks we could get going. I think we averaged around nine, but I think our best was 20 or so.
Adam helped Milly learn to swim a bit. He got her to where she can hold her breath underwater. She tried to use every excuse she could to get out of it, from saying she had to pee to saying it was boring (and lots of screaming), but in the end she did learn a lot.
Lots of pool, lots of music, lots of eating. It was a very fun day.
When we got back, Tristen and I set up the slip & slide, which is a giant billboard with water and soap on it. We put it in the front yard and it was a huge hit. Milly later said it was her favorite part of the weekend. Mom, Dad and Adam didn’t get on it, but the rest of us did and had a blast. Dad had recently mowed the lawn so we got covered in grass.
After it got dark we all sat on the front porch or the front steps and watched Adam, Josh and Jackson light up a nice fireworks show. Milly and Addy got to do sparklers and such when those were done.
Everything kind of settled down after that. Erin and Andra tried to get me to stay up to play Cards Against Humanity, but I was literally about to fall asleep sitting in the chair at the table. Andra tried her Minnesota accent on me, but I slipped by Erin and her Pokey Pony in the kitchen and went to bed. I think Tristen was up shortly after, but I was out almost immediately.
Milly and Addy had gone to sleep on the bottom bunk in the big room at the back, but she woke up and got in the bed. She said she just wanted to cuddle, so cuddle she did.
I got up and was joined not too much later by Milly. We played some games on the iPad until Addy joined us, then we went outside to pick up from the fireworks. They complained about it a bit, but they did a good job.
Mom and Dad fixed a great breakfast for everyone. We had some of Mom’s pancakes, which are the best. (Really, they are. People say that about their mom’s food, but my mom’s pancakes are not too thick, buttery and just slightly crisp at the edges. Best pancakes ever.) Dad fixed some biscuits and hash browns and eggs and had picked up some doughnuts from the store after church.
We all took our time leaving. Andra’s crew and Adam left around the same time. Jackson was going to be dropped off at a camp, which sounded pretty fun.
I helped Mom and Dad move some half-ton bales of hay. Dad worked the tractor, Mom and I leveraged the giant bales onto the tractor bucket and we worked on getting them neatly onto pallets in the barn.
We hung out a little more then took off around 3. Milly fell asleep around Raleigh I think, maybe a little after.
After we got back to Wilmington and dropped off Milly, Tristen and I freshened up back at the apartment then went over to her parents’ house to watch the FIFA Women’s Soccer (or Football, if you prefer, Rest of the World) Championship between the US and Japan and eat some bar-be-cue. We were standing in the kitchen and the US scored about three minutes in. Craig and Tristen were going wild and I just looked at them. I thought it was showing a recap of a previous game because I didn’t realize the game had started yet. Then the US scored again. Then they scored again. For a game where it’s not uncommon to see a 2-1 final score, the championship’s 5-2 result was pretty entertaining.
I thought I’d be exhausted, but after we got back we watched the second season finale of Dexter, which we’ve been binge watching lately. Tristen has seen the whole series, but I never have. It’s a show I always wanted to get around to watching, so we’re working our way through it.
I’ve looked forward to being in Rougemont with the whole family for the Fourth of July for a while, and this weekend didn’t disappoint. We all had a great time hanging out and having fun.