These posts are all going to be a bit picture heavy. My apologies. I will try to be less wordy to make up for the length.
I mentioned that this trip is, essentially, my family's Christmas present. As part of the trip, since we were in Nebraska, we spent the 4th at my parents' with all of my dad's side of the family. To start the day's festivities, we got to be part of the annual parade!
Nic & Ariel driving my Grandpa's tractor - which Nic drove for the first time years ago in a tractor show.
Pre-parade snack (thus the weird face and the hunks of granola bar on his chin).
The twins got to ride with some of my cousins (and Lucas and I) in the back of my Grandpa's Minneapolis Moline pickup. They were so excited to be IN a parade...and to throw candy.
The twins with my cousin D getting ready for the parade to start.
Lucas kept an eye on the kids while I took pictures.
My cousin J and Allie conferring about the candy.
Our family waiting for us! And Uncle Matt taking a picture.
Note: Notice how many people are actually taking pictures in this picture! It made me chuckle :)
The picture Uncle Matt took.
After the parade, everyone went to my parents for a BBQ and afternoon of 4th festivities.
Mom and my Uncle Jon.
This is partly a picture of cousins hanging out...and partly a picture to show you all the wonderful wide-open space that exists in Nebraska!
Look, Uncle Nic!
Grandpa gave out rides on his tractor. Older kids got to drive on their own, younger kids got to ride with Grandpa (and put their hands on the wheel). The twins LOVE tractors and were so thrilled for a ride on a real one!
After the rides we broke out the slip 'n' slide. My mom actually bought this when she was in Michigan earlier this summer and left it with us. So my kids had been anticipating this moment for weeks. It was a hit! My favorite part was how much fun my children were having with my little cousin D. Being the oldest cousin, I'm a lot older than the youngest (I'm pretty sure they don't even believe I'm their cousin), but I love watching my kids play with them the way I played with the older "generation" of these cousins when I was their age.
Even some of the "Big Kids" got in on the fun!
My cousin C!
Ryan didn't want to stop and spent as much of the afternoon as possible doing this:
The older cousins and at least one uncle started an epic croquet match.
Sweet Allie fell asleep on the swing (Ryan had taken a nap earlier).
Later in the day (after a dinner of delicious leftovers), my mom got out a giant box filled with various poppers, and the kiddos had a blast.
Allie preferred picking up all the streamers.
It finally started to get dark and everyone gathered in my parents' backyard for the fireworks.
Waiting for the show to start.
Some of the neighbors put on a pre-show.
The fireworks finally started and we had the perfect view. The show was great. At one point, Ryan heard someone around us whoop, and he started letting out a whoop or two when there was a firework he liked. Allie was so enthralled that she suddenly jumped down and ran up to sit in a chair closer to get a better view.
Little Allie watching the fireworks alone.
Although, she came back before long. When it was over Ryan said it was like watching a thunderstorm and Allie exclaimed, "Mommy, look at all of the stars the fireworks made!" The sky was indeed full of stars that we hadn't been able to see before the show was dark, and there was no convincing Allie that they would have been there even without the fireworks.
It was a perfect day - full of fun, great time with family, and beautiful fireworks.