In my family, the July 4th tradition has been to go to Lexington, Kentucky and stay with Baba and Pap.  Our whole crew would be there, plus we’d see Uncle Steve and his girls and usually Uncle Bernie’s family for at least one day.  Sometimes Aunt Terry and Gypsy would be there too, and now and then Uncle Tom’s family would fly out from the other side of the country to join us.

Not so this year, and I’m afraid it might not happen again.  Baba, my grandma, isn’t doing the best and she’s on a waiting list to move to assisted living.  When that happens they’ll try to sell the house she and Pap lived in since my dad was a kid.  It saddens me on so many levels.  I’ve got all kinds of memories of that house, and if we as a family don’t have Baba and that house as a gathering point, there’s no telling when I’ll get to see my aunts, uncles and cousins again, particularly all together.  What about seeing the Quinns?  Milly has been to Lexington only once, and I’m pretty sure she won’t remember it, having been one year and two weeks old.

Well, it is what it is, I guess.  Life moves on, fairly or not.

Since Dad said having everyone there would be hard on Baba, our branch of the family is getting together in Rougemont at my parents’ house for the weekend.  Amanda and I got up and packed the car, grabbed some breakfast from Chick-Fil-A (Milly mentioned chicken nuggets, and who are we to turn down a Chick-Fil-A breakfast?), we stopped back by the house to pick up a couple things we didn’t think about then headed on to the Rouge.

Aside from a stop at Target to pick up a razor for Amanda and I shirt for my dad (which we gave him along with a UK car coaster as belated birthday and Father’s Day gifts), the trip was mostly uneventful.

We stopped off in Durham to visit my oldest pal, Jason Revill.  He was at the home of Liz, his girlfriend, so I finally got to meet her and her son Luke.  We were there maybe an hour, half of which I think Milly spent flirting with Luke, who is, what, eleven or so?  I’m glad I got to stop and see them.

My parents’ house looks completely different from the last time I saw it.  It previously had wood siding and now it’s covered in light vinyl with some wooded trimmings.  It looks really good.  The porch in particular looks so open and contemporary now.

Milly had a nap not too long after we got there.  We mostly hung out on the porch: me, Amanda, Dad and Adam once he was up and around.  He’d been sick in the morning, but was feeling better when we saw him.  Josh and Jackson arrived and went with me to get Milly when she got up from her nap.

All of us men-folk moved some things around in the exercise room that had once been Adam’s and was Erin and Andra’s before that then we put up a bunk bed.  We were originally going to put it on one side of the room but Josh and I decided to switch it to the other side because you could access the ladder where we put it.  It fit so tight in the place we were originally going to put it that it was only just wide enough for the bunk bed.

I felt bad for Erin.  She was trying to work in the room next to that one while we were doing all of this.  We tried to be quiet, but it wasn’t easy.

Adam had come up early to spend some time with his old friend, Joe Runkle, who was in town from San Diego.  Renee arrived while we were all messing with the bed.

Amanda had been in the pool with Milly and I took over after I came back downstairs.  I was playing with her and with Jackson, which wasn’t an easy thing to do.  Jackson’s big enough to walk in the pool just fine, but he wanted me to play with him (not that I mind playing with him at all- I like doing it), but I kept having to explain to him that I had to keep a constant eye on Milly.  At one point I had her on a raft, and once I saw that she was stable I finally consented to throwing Jackson up in the air.  Of course, that’s the time Milly decided to move on the raft and fell completely in the water.  I grabbed her right out, and much to my surprise she wasn’t at all upset.

We had some food and shot off a few small fireworks.  Everyone got a good laugh from me since I was taping it and I made some yelp when a spinning firecracker came at me so I had to dance out of the way.

Andra and Addison got there after all that.  Addie was shy around me at first, but it didn’t take her long to warm up.  It certainly took her less time to warm up to me than it did for Milly to warm up to just about everyone.

Jackson got upset at me when we were playing later in the evening.  He wanted to roughhouse and I guess it couldn’t take losing.  I’d pin him down and he’d promise not to retaliate, but then as soon as I let him up he’d of course jump right back on me.  I didn’t mind; I thought it was fun.  I got him in a leg lock at one point though and he said I hurt his back or some such then sulked for a little while.  I think he was getting tired is probably all.

Dad went to go pick Mom up from the airport, and when all the kids were down the rest of us were sitting around on the porch just talking.  Josh mentioned planking, which Wikipedia also calls the lying down game.  It’s ridiculously stupid- just just lie face-down on things.  We were laughing about it, so then Josh and I started doing it.  We were planking coolers, the porch railing, the grill, whatever we could think of.  Then Erin, Amanda and Andra joined us.  Collectively, we ended up planking the water (septic?) tank cover, ladders on Josh’s truck, open back doors on Josh’s truck, several cars, my and Josh’s arms, Erin, some bags on the ground, a few chairs, the couch, the fridge, the kitchen cabinets and more I think.

Why?  I don’t know.  It was stupid and fun I guess.  Erin had the best dismounts, as she’d roll off of things but keep her body rigid and straight.  I think the best was when I was on the kitchen cabinets and everyone was worried about their stability.  Amanda was standing on a chair taking video so she could get a better angle.  When we watched the video, I rolled off of it and said, “And nobody got hurt!”  Then there’s a noise and the camera goes all crazy because Amanda has stumbled off of the chair.  I glance over and say, “Well, I didn’t anyway.”  (Or something like that.)  I didn’t remember saying that at all!  Amanda was fine, of course.  She spent the next couple minutes hunched over laughing at herself.

Once Mom and Dad got home we told them all about our planking adventures and sat with them on the porch for a while.

Zach Dotsey