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4th of July 2017

Happy Independence Day! Our holidays tend to be super packed with our own family traditions, but the 4th is one that we sort of did stuff different every year. One year I was at the beach with Gabby, Belle, and family. Two years we got vegan bbq (my vegan stage of life) and watched fireworks under the Fremont Bridge. One year we stayed home and went to bed. One year we were on a massive cross country road trip and saw them from our camping spot. Last year we cursed all the locals who felt the need to continuously set off bombs until the wee hours because we were in the process of starting to sleep train our 4 month old. This year, we decided to head to Maryland to visit with friends and family. Not the most adventurous blog post at all, BUT traveling with a 16 month old back and forth 100 miles has presented its challenges.

We decided to take separate cars. That way, Ruby could go for a visit with her Great-Grandparents, and Brock didn't have to take off of work at all over the long weekend. So, fresh batch of peanut butter chocolate scones in hand, we braved the DC traffic and left our house around 9am.Let me tell you: Ruby is teething (when aren't babies teething???) and was kinda cranky that morning, because I baked scones instead of giving her 100% of my attention (eye roll) and when I saw the PARKING LOT that was I-95 north bound, including express lanes, I almost turned around and came home. Instead, we drove a lovely scenic route with 8 million red traffic lights to get north of the accident and hit the road. 2 hours later, we made it to Parkville, MD and spent some time with my grandparents. Ruby took a 25 minute nap on the way there. Luck? Yes. I'll take it. It was a nice quiet 25 minutes compared to the constant fussing the other hour and 35 minutes.

Our next stop for a few days was Nanee and Hop's house in Westminster, MD, Brock's parents. We made it there by 3pm, and Ruby did doze for about 35 minutes. Boy was I glad her Papa was headed up after work instead of the next morning, b/c she was going to be a big crank at bath and bedtime! (Side note: It took Brock 3.5 hours to drive the 100 miles. O.M.G.). When we got there, her super fun cousins Kenzy and Cam were already there, and so we had a fun afternoon of play! One thing we have learned is to just have doubles of everything. Nanee already has soap, shampoo, wipes, butt paste, lotion, towel, snot sucker, diapers, toothbrush and toothpaste for Ruby, so all we have to do is pack some clothes (and swim gear). It makes it MUCH easier. We also took our Ruby camping chair, because Nanee has an older bumbo seat that Ruby, of course, can figure out how to get out of. Nan and Hop recently moved, and we have a older guava family go-crib that we just use, so they didn't have to have a crib in their new, smaller home. Saturday was one of my favorite days of the weekend: breakfast out, and Rocky Ridge Slide at Mt. Tabor park in Frederick County, MD. Breakfast was at Trouts Towne Resturant, a typical sort of greasy diner experience, prices ranging from $7-$15 for a main meal. Ruby had already eaten, but had no trouble eating again since it was a cinnamon bun.

It is a fantastic old wooden slide and the park also has great older swings where you can really get some height. If you have the chance to visit, it is great fun, for grown-ups too! And it is free! Check out our video over on the video page... she claps her little hands.. it it the CUTEST.

After a nap, we played at Nanee's house with Kenzy and some water, and had more of Nanee's good cooking.

Saturday night we took Ruby to a local snowball stand and she had her first ever snow ball (egg custard). Not a snow cone. Snow BALL. It's a MD thing, I think.

Sunday we checked out the local city park (super awesome), and went to the Westminster Riding Club Pool with Nanee, Hop, Kenzy, Cam, Uncle Casey, and Aunt Sonia. Before the pool, however, Ruby needed her midday nap, and Nanee and Hop graciously offered to be at home while she napped so Brock and I could go on a "date." Here we are at the battlefield, pre battle. Yes, I typed those words.

Yes. We went on the hottest date EVER. Because it was like 1000 degrees outside. We also went on the weirdest, possibly most boring date ever (in my opinion)... The Gettysburg Battle Reenactments of the Civil War. Gettysburg is only a 35-45 minute drive from Westminster, and it was something Brock always wanted to do. I'm the nerd for liking calculus?? Anyway... it was pretty expensive: online tickets purchased in advance were $29.99. We arrived around 1pm for a 2:30 battle. There were living history tents set up, so you could see how it was done 154 years ago, and talk to actors (in FULL costume) about it. I got my photo with Robert E. Lee and his lovely wife.

We took our camper chairs and our $4 dollar lemonades and sat in the front row of the battle field. Perfect view. We did not buy any food, but it was mostly overpriced carnival type food. There was also a lot of stuff for purchase: clothing, fake toy guns, hats, etc. Sort of touristy. Feel free to check out my video link for a short clip of the battle. The guns and cannons sounded pretty cool, but it was a bit loud so we were glad Ruby wasn't with us. Plus, it was HOT. Like, damp armpits, back of knee moisture, trickles down your back HOT. If you decide to do it, make sure to think about sun protection also. I got a tiny sunburn even though I applied sunscreen. I was completely shocked at the diverse license plates we saw in the parking lot. It seemed a far way to drive to sit out in the heat to see a fake battle... MA, NY, NC, MD, PA, Ontario Canada, CT, RI, WI, CA, NJ, Washington DC, OH, FL, ME, IL, TN, WV, GA, VA, MI...

Would I do this again? Never. I think history is boring and air conditioning is awesome. Am I glad I did it? Only for the reason that it made my husband happy.

Then for dinner: Nanee's crab cakes, and Donna and Jeb came over with ice-cream sandwiches from Hoffman's Ice Cream: a local joint that is a MUST try for homemade ice-cream.

Monday was tricky... Ruby was starting to get bored and need some adventure. So we hit up the local library for some story time (FREE) and went to Baugher's Farms out on route 140 to show Ruby the (FREE) petting zoo.

She LOVED feeding the goat and seeing the pigs and turkeys!

For dinner, we went to Mimi's house and had some more home cooking. I cook, and I can cook well, but it sure is nice to have someone else cook for you, you know what I mean???

Tuesday we were at Mimi's house. We did the traditional Chick-fil-a for lunch, which my kid clearly loved.

During nap time Mimi, Auntie Belle and I hit up goodwill to see what kid stuff we could find...I found two adorable sweatshirts for this winter. Mimi insisted on a "quick" stop at Kohl's, where she then proceeded to have a shopping spree (I tried to help stop her... nothing stops her) and Ruby has several new additions to her summer wardrobe, and an adorable pair of nike tennis shoes to wear on her next adventure.

So this year, on the 4th, we ended our little family visit by staying at Mimi's. The fireworks were much quieter in her neighborhood than ours were from last year, and Ruby always sleeps well at Mimi's house! She LOVES the dogs at Mimi's, and hanging with Auntie Gabby and Auntie Belle. Robby even helped with bath time! And after Ruby was in bed, her mama got to sit and hang with Mimi and Aunties and talk into the wee hours of the morning. Good, deep conversation with other women is just what a stay at home mama needs, and I sure did get it this past weekend with Nanee, Mimi, and Aunties.

Ruby and I headed home to VA after sneaking in some long hugs and a quick lunch with Grammie Roe and David on Wednesday.

Awesome weekend with awesome family. We are fortunate, indeed! Now, to get ready for the next adventure... we leave on Sunday, in 2 days!

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