July Fourth. Independence Day. The Fourth of July. America’s Birthday. My favorite holiday! But why?
1. It Happens In The Summer (my favorite season)
Hot weather, flip-flops, tank tops and sunscreen.
The blustery coldness that bites through bulky layers of sweaters and coats is a distant memory and the colorful foliage of autumn has yet to remind me that gloves and scarves are just around the corner.
2. No-Recipe, Simple-Ingredient Food
Grilled burgers, hot dogs, water melon, ice cream, sweet corn.
I don’t have to follow a complicated recipe only to find half-way through I don’t have one of the ingredients or worse calls for an ingredient I’ve never heard of. I love the simplicity and taste of no-fuss picnic food. No menu planning or hours of cooking prep required.
3. No Gifts, No Cards, No Decorating
I don’t have to buy anything on July 4th. The holiday doesn’t involve Santa or the Easter Bunny or any holiday hero for that matter. I don’t have to figure out what gifts to buy or spend hours wrapping said gifts. I have no pine needles to vacuum or holiday letters to write or carols to sing. I don’t need to buy costumes or candy. It is one of the cheapest, relaxing holidays of all.
4. Fireworks, Baby!
The holiday culminates in an amazing display of colors, sounds and vibrations. I love fireworks. Watching the girls practice cart wheels, dance and twirl their glow sticks as they wait for dusk to fall and the fireworks to start. The look of pure joy on their faces when the first one shoots into the sky and explodes to a chorus of Oooo’s and Ahhhh’s from the crowd. When my step-son was about four years old, he grabbed my father’s cheeks and turned his face toward his. “Look, Grandpa! It’s a masterpiece!’ Yes indeed, they are!
This evening the blustery winds of Northwest Ohio finally died down and the warm sun came out.The two weather occurrences haven’t convened at the same time in quite a while. And so after a long week of dreariness the girls and I decided to take advantage of this gift and take a bike ride together. A great idea so I thought. My ideas always start out as great you know.
As a young girl I have fond memories tooling around on my banana bike with my sister and friends. The wind in our faces, the sun on our backs we popped wheelies and rode with no hands. We took our bikes everywhere. I remember saving up my babysitting money to purchase a powder-blue ten speed bike with the word “Trans Am” written on the frame and racing handle bars. I thought I was so cool on that bike until only a few years later when I got my coveted driver’s license. I don’t know where that bike is these days. For awhile I did have a mountain bike, although I never did ride it on any mountains or for that matter any trails of any sort. I pulled it out of the garage last summer when my oldest finally learned to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels. Unfortunately, only one of the hand brakes worked, the front tire was flat, the gears rusted and the seat a little wobbly. I persevered though and via a you tube video actually replaced the tube in the tire and fixed the breaks. I greased the gears, but was never able to get the seat to quit twisting around as I tried to ride.
This year, I decided to give up on the high tech, biker bikes, and got myself an old-lady bike. Yes, I bought one of those bikes I used to make fun of my mom for riding. Now they are called cruisers though and seem to be making a come back in stores. I am happy with this simple bike with coaster breaks, no gears to change and a nice cushy seat for my much bigger bum:) Luckily, my kids aren’t quite old enough to be embarrassed by me yet! They were eager to take a ride with their dear old mom. So we headed out. My nine-year old took the lead, ringing her bell with a smile and a wave. Next, the five-year old, struggled to get her bike with training wheels up over the driveway onto the road. I brought up the rear.
A smile on my face, the kids laughter in my ears, the ride started off, well, great. We decided to head for the local park about a mile away. All was well except for the bug that landed on the little one’s arm as we rode. A slight bout of hysteria ensued, but I quickly flicked the bug off as I rode past and circled around behind her again. All was well again. As we neared our destination, I congratulated myself that we made it without crashing or crying or whining. Of course the journey took a bit longer than anticipated as every time a car neared the youngest pulled over or stopped dead in front of me until it passed. Safety is good, but I had to reminder her that stop suddenly isn’t such a good idea because mom might accidentally slam into her and fly over the handle bars. That visual seemed funny to her somehow. I don’t think I got much of a work out with all the stopping and starting, but the girls were having fun racing and riding and laughing.
We got to the park and the girls swung on the swings, slid down the slide, crossed the monkey bars and threw rocks in the pond. It was a wonderful evening together until it was time to ride the mile home. The littlest decided her feet were too tired to ride. After a little prodding and a lot of idle threatening we finally headed for home. She rode her bike as slowly as possible. It was at this point I realized riding a bike slowly is not easy. It is hard to do actually, I kept wobbling and having to put my feet down. So I made the mistake of passing her. Here is where the cry baby part comes in. The screaming tantrum began. I circled back around behind as I’d planned to do all along. I only passed her to avoid running over her. She decided she was done. She got off her bike and took off her helmet. She was done. At least until I called her Dad to come get her. Then the waterworks began even more, but also the determination to make it home on her bike. She had her helmet back on and was pedaling toward home. I heard my husband say something about he’d come and get her if he had to, but I needed to work on my authority with her… What? I thought to myself (well I may have thought some other words too). OK. Nevermind, she’s going now I tell him and tuck the phone back into my pocket. We’re off again. She’s riding through puddles and trying to pass her sister. The tantrum tirade is over until we hit the slight incline less than a quarter mile from home. She starts the crying, whining again, but with a push makes it over the top. The oldest has given up and pushes her bike home as she can’t got that slow… All great ideas…