Happy Birthday, America!

"Happy Birthday, America!", we would say, and he would answer, "Americaaaaaa!!!"

It was pretty darn cute.

And it didn't get old, hearing him say it. All day long.

Our 4th of July felt like the perfect staycation. Last year it poured rain and we were house hunting on this holiday (best realtor ever is all I have to say about that), but this year we really wanted to savor the sweet 3-day weekend. We stayed home and actually enjoyed this little town of ours! We went to a friend's lake for the day, and then just cruised around on our golf cart, eating popsicles and, of course, wishing America a very happy birthday. Everett even sang his version of the birthday song while we drove - iits very hard to decipher, I just know that's what he's getting at. Our suburb has more golf cart path mileage than actual road mileage, so we can get anywhere we need on our little "g-ride" (that's what we call it). It's such a fun, eco-friendly way to live, and it also turns every little errand into an activity. Because Everett loves loves loves going on a g-ride.

I've celebrated the 4th of July is a lot of different cities, and I have to admit that my hometown is the most wildly festive place to do the 4th of July. It's almost insane how much American pride and celebratory spirit is looming on this special day. It feels like an eventful birthday party that everyone in town is invited to! This community does such a wonderful job of rallying together and getting silly and dressing up and decorating and I have to admit - it's just a ridiculous lot of fun. I'm discovering really special things about this place all the time, things I never realized were so special until I moved away for years. Now that I live here again, especially with my own family, it's really amazing to enjoy and appreciate those things. Like the crazy 4th of July hoopla.

For yesterday's 4th of July festivities, we went to the parade across town and camped out along the side of the road with some dear friends and family. Our friends staked out the perfect location at 5:00am (yes, you read that right), and then provided the crew with coffee and breakfast burritos (and homemade salsa!) Thank you, sweet Koontz family! We enjoyed our morning eats and cheered as the floats and vintage cars passed us by, while Everett caught candy and eagerly stuffed it into his bucket. He had some help from the big kids, so he ended up with more candy than we could ever need in this household. I need to throw it out, because I will be the only one tempted to eat it.

Kid tried to steal my pearls.

Kid tried to steal my pearls.

Our decorated golf cart! I just had to snap a pic of it all decked out.

Our decorated golf cart! I just had to snap a pic of it all decked out.

Everyone came in their patriotic wear! I love how festive our community is.

Everyone came in their patriotic wear! I love how festive our community is.

Kid stole my drink. Man he's lucky he's cute.

Kid stole my drink. Man he's lucky he's cute.

Everett and a handful of his cousins :)

Everett and a handful of his cousins :)

^ She likes to photobomb, so I figured she wanted to be featured. You win, Kelley!

^ She likes to photobomb, so I figured she wanted to be featured. You win, Kelley!

This makes me laugh because Everett looks so bored. While being tossed in the air?!

This makes me laugh because Everett looks so bored. While being tossed in the air?!

Kid stole my hat. He's starting to take this, "What's mine is yours" philosophy a bit too seriously.

Kid stole my hat. He's starting to take this, "What's mine is yours" philosophy a bit too seriously.

My little family of three. Slash four. #whoanelly

My little family of three. Slash four. #whoanelly

After the parade was over, we went over to my sis-in-laws (thanks for taking some of these photos, Lauren!) and swam at her pool. Everett fell asleep in the golf cart on the way home from her house because, hello, sensory overload. And I just couldn't help but snap a few sleepy baby photos. He's getting so big, but he's still my little baby when he sleeps. Any other moms know what I mean?? Also, babies in tank tops forever please.

Don't let Stevie fool you. He was LOVING this moment. He's a softy when it comes to Everett :)

Don't let Stevie fool you. He was LOVING this moment. He's a softy when it comes to Everett :)

We attempted the fireworks later on in the evening, and my little guy liked them for about 60 seconds before he suddenly didn't. He looked at me and said, "No fireworks, Mom! I go home!" And then he scurried up onto the seat of our golf cart and commanded that we join him. Stevie and I just looked at each other and laughed. We weren't too sad though, because any excuse to go home and get extra sleep is welcomed in this family. I expect to have many years ahead to stay up late watching the fireworks, but this year wasn't one of them.

Happy birthday to you, dear America!


I hope you had the happiest holiday celebrating with your people. What is your absolutely favorite 4th of July tradition?

P.S. - I have to admit - I did have an epic fail on this day. I dropped my gorgeous homemade flag cake on the kitchen floor and it wasn't redeemable. I had to mourn that loss for a minute. #theresalwaysnextyear

P.P.S. - My dress is from Target (here), my hat is from J. Crew (old, but similar here), my shoes are Keds (here) and Everett's shirt is from Old Navy (here).

Roaming in Rome. Part 2.

Colloseum

Roaming in Rome. Part 2.
"This place is so old. I mean SO OLD."

Stevie just nodded.

That was all I could think and say, over and over again, as I stared at the mammoth, gargantuan, understandably epic Colosseum. This is where people have come to live, come to die, come to be entertained and fed and amused and laughed at and laughed with and it's happened over and over again. For thousands of years. It's served as an amphitheater, a killing ring, a Christian shrine, a gladiatorial playground, a fortress, and today, just a dusty, piecemeal homage to a fallen empire.

Rome. You are so, barbarically old.

Of course, this is how I felt the entire time. Though I've been here before and felt all these feelings before, it's like the first time every time. This place is special and strange, like an elderly relative with long fingers and a mind-full of stories to share, if only you lean closer and ask. And the stories, they are almost impossible to relate to, because their premise is just so old. So I was struck, over and over again, by that hypnotizing feeling of, "Whoa. This stuff is old." Walking through the Forum. With gelato, no less. Prancing down the side streets, alleys marked by slick stone and discarded cigarettes and flowering weeds. I continued my obnoxious open-mouthed gaze as I meandered throughout the palatial churches, the crumbling piazzas, down the Spanish Steps and up the hills to St. Peter's Basilica, and honestly, just over and over again. Lounging in the Piazza Navona, sipping the house wine and finding myself sleepy for all the gasping I had done. Gasping at the old, the epic, the unruly ostentatious, magnificent city of Rome. I know I sound like a broken record, but it's the truth. This city is something of a broken record, replaying and repeating it's history over and over again for each newcomer, those vibrant souls eager to learn and explore and become saturated with the wiley tales of Ancient Rome's elite.

The Colosseum. Gladiators welcome.

The Colosseum. Gladiators welcome.

across the forum
All the Colors
The Roman Forum.

The Roman Forum.

See what I mean about the sheer JUMBO-ness of this here structure??

See what I mean about the sheer JUMBO-ness of this here structure??

walking again
View from the top of the Spanish Steps. Yes, we carried our stroller down each and every one. Which means we earned an extra allotment of gelato! 

View from the top of the Spanish Steps. Yes, we carried our stroller down each and every one. Which means we earned an extra allotment of gelato! 

Us
Arch of Constantine. I think he was rather impressed with himself.

Arch of Constantine. I think he was rather impressed with himself.

The Roman Forum. I'm still struck by the fact that we are allowed to walk all over this archaeological playground.

The Roman Forum. I'm still struck by the fact that we are allowed to walk all over this archaeological playground.

Dome
fountain
I think this is my favorite street in Rome. It's just so Italian. Insert loooooong sigh.

I think this is my favorite street in Rome. It's just so Italian. Insert loooooong sigh.

Via dell' Orso. Extravagantly blanketed in wild emerald and pearl Jasmine. Adorable friend is an added bonus.

Via dell' Orso. Extravagantly blanketed in wild emerald and pearl Jasmine. Adorable friend is an added bonus.

windows
street people
I found my wedding flowers for sale on the back of a truck! Peonies for the win, for always and forever.

I found my wedding flowers for sale on the back of a truck! Peonies for the win, for always and forever.

Piazza del Popolo , very close to where we stayed. We walked through this piazza every morning and every evening. And it was always, always lovely.

Piazza del Popolo, very close to where we stayed. We walked through this piazza every morning and every evening. And it was always, always lovely.

bridged
night rider
EVERY DAY.

EVERY DAY.

Baby-free shenanigans, our children fast asleep with grandparents watching them. This is what getting drunk on gelato looks like.

Baby-free shenanigans, our children fast asleep with grandparents watching them. This is what getting drunk on gelato looks like.

Night's End.

Night's End.

Roaming Romans.
Rome; day or night... you truly slay me.