Our 4th (edited)

(Note: I’m moving my files to a different server and can’t figure out how to do the wordpress utility in the meantime. Sorry the pictures are all clumped up– they’re half way down in this post. I’ll figure how to sprinkle them around in the post later today– am just leaving for college orientation for Second Daughter.)

Our 4th of July celebration was great. There was pool time in the afternoon. Then at dinner we barbecued burgers and cut up a huge watermelon. The cheesy jalapenos were utterly flamin’. Even the berbere-loving Ethiopians were tearing up and drinking milk. Half the dinner entertainment consisted of watching faces turn red and smoke start to come out of each other’s ears. Aren’t hot-pepper-lovers nutty? Speaking of ears, have you ever eaten anything so hot that it makes the inside of your ears burn?

The red white and blue drinks were a fun — and nicely cooling –touch. (Though the most scalded of us really needed milk, not pop.)

After dinner it was time for the water balloons. The kids had spent the morning filling a kiddie pool and two coolers with water balloons. A couple of the kids had not been gracious about this task. One had even gone as far as to say she was NOT going to play in the water-balloon fight in the evening.

I knew from experience that you can’t force a crank-pot an unhappy kid to have fun. Since I was eager to have a happy evening with all children participating willingly, I schemed a bit. Sugar, maybe? I gathered chocolate and gummy bears and candy corn early in the day and after dinner I made a list of awards and prizes. There was a prize for the best sport, the best balloon roller, the best balloon-toss team, the cutest 3 year old. (Yeah, that last was obviously rigged, but really, how else can you level the playing field for a 3 year old playing with big kids?)

For good measure I tossed in a grumpy prize as well: a mushroom. I told the kids that whoever didn’t want to play the game could just sit and watch, no problem. But anyone not playing had to sit in the middle of the driveway. In the middle of the water-bombs. And they would earn a mushroom instead of candy. (I know, I’m bad. But I didn’t want the moods of a kid or two to derail everyone’s fun!)

By the time I had all the prizes and games figured out, I had all the younger ones hanging over my shoulder, animatedly discussing which prize they hoped to get. And no one was coveting the mushroom. Score one for mom! We started the water balloon fight out mellow, with a balloon toss. Notice how nice and dry everyone was.

That didn’t last long. After the balloon toss, there was hot potato, a balloon roll, and two throwing contests, one for accuracy and one for distance. For the distance throw we had the brilliant idea of having each person stand in the spot where their balloon landed, to mark the spot, you know. And also to risk getting bombed by everyone else’s throws. It was really fun. I was glad we went in age order, which meant I was only in danger from hubby– but not actually, since he can throw miles farther than I can!

The last organized game was actually the segueway to the free-for-all. It was a competition to see who could bomb every family member first. It was killer. Within seconds everyone was soaked and heartlessly bombing everyone in sight, even the three year old, who endured it all with remarkable aplomb. Of course, she was throwing ballons herself!

The most shocking moment came near the end. The water balloon supply was almost gone. So my hubby came up and dumped a whole cooler full of water on me. And our less-than-pleased 3 year old.
What a turkey. But he’s pretty cute, isn’t he?

Our 13 year old apparently was not wet enough, because after all the water balloons were gone, he decided to sit in the other cooler.

After the fight was done, we all trundled into the house for a movie: Shark Tale. By the time that was done, it was dark and we let the children in on a surprise that we’d been teasing them about all day. We were going swimming right then…. in the dark.

They scurried back into wet swimsuits and we all headed out to the water. I sat on the deck with the 3 year old who’d fallen asleep during the movie. But everyone else hopped into the water, and was delighted at how warm it was. The water was 82 and the outside air was still in the high 70’s, great for a swim.

A big public fireworks display was planned in a nearby town, and we could see it perfectly from right in the pool. The neighbors had a fair display too. There were lots of oohs and aahs from the pool. I’d been wet often enough that day that I was very content to be snuggling my sleeping 3 year old and listening to my family enjoying the tail end of a lovely day.


  1. It sounds like a perfect day, Mary! I love the mushroom idea! For some reason, I can’t see any of your photos. Sigh. I have tried 2 browsers and nada. Nothing but little red crosses. I will check later to see if they are up then. It may be a wordpress thing at the moment.

  2. I can’t see them either…

  3. Oh, how fun!

  4. Jeanne A says:

    Sounds like memories were made that will last a lifetime.

    I can’t wait to see the photos!

  5. What a wonderful recounting of a great day. Sounds lovely. Hope to see the pictures soon too. : )

  6. Sounds like a perfect day! Glad everyone had a great time. I love the night swim idea

  7. Aww man, sounds fun but I wish I could see the pictures!

  8. Awesome. Loved the pictures.

  9. Sounds great! I’ll post about our day later- but it involves emergency oral surgery so definitely not as much fun.

  10. Wonderful photos! I am so glad I checked back!

  11. Jennie C says:

    Oh the joy of water and balloons! I’ve been wondering about what techniques you use to promote sibling harmony/stop the fighting. I’m sure it comes up with 10 kids. I’d love a running series on this topic! I didn’t see anything in your ‘categories’ related to this. We are soon to be adopting 2 little ones from Ethiopia and any help is welcome! Thanks for all that you do! Jennie C.

  12. What I’m most impressed with is that you made all of this fun for yourselves!!! You didn’t have to go anywhere or spend a fortune on consession food! I didn’t see any mention of home-fireworks either. I’m wary to start buying the things. They scare me and are soo expensive. Did you omit them from your day? And if so, why?
    I’m expecting my 5th and am an avid student of yours Mary!! Thanks so much for this awesome ministry of yours. You are such a blessing to so many of us!!

  13. It sounds like a perfect 4th of July!! I really like your technique on working with grumpy kids… I’m going to have to remember that for when my own kids come along.

    I’m glad you all had a Happy July 4th!

  14. I have a question…How do you go about cleaning up all the little broken balloon pieces? You must have a ton of them around after all that fun.

  15. To answer various questions:

    No, we don’t usually do fireworks. We have a few times in the past, but between the fire hazard and the cost, I just don’t enjoy them. In my view, it feels just like lighting $5 bills on fire and watching them burn. I just can’t bear to waste the money, especially when we can watch other peoples’ for free.

    And as far as the water balloon bits, there were about a billion, but we all ran around and had them cleaned up in about 5 minutes. It helped that I saved two prizes til cleanup and awarded them to the two most diligent cleaner-uppers. Er, actually, I awarded ONE prize to the very best worker, and divided the second prize among everyone, because everyone was really cheery about cleaning up.

    We had a ton of fun!


  16. what a wonderful family tradition.