I'm Proud To Be An American

My Previous Blog > "Honor Flight... Part 2"

June 2010 wrapped up with the Rally for Kids with Cancer event. It was a weekend full of unexpected surprises, like meeting Dina Manzo. Since Atia's leukemia diagnosis, everything in our lives had become very clinical and lackluster. That weekend rejuvenated my spirit, sparking something that had been lying dormant for quite sometime. It was especially important because it lay the foundation for what would soon become my new reality.

My in-depth coverage of the Rally:

The next day, I packed up the kids and headed down to Springfield, IL for a visit with my mom and sister's family. Steve had to work, so he stayed home, but took the train down to be with us a few days later. It was the week of the 4th of July, and the kids and I were psyched to be spending time at Nana's house.

My sister, Julie, and I took the kids to the Illinois State Museum where they enjoyed the window displays and hands-on kid's area, the Henson Robinson Zoo where the peacocks roamed free and were within reaching distance, and Washington Park where we fed the ducks and ran from the squirrels that were harassing us. And, during our down time, we'd walk around the lakes in Nana's neighborhood feeding the ducks, geese and fish there, too.

9A.jpgAtia really looks up to Cierstin and thinks she's the coolest girl in the world. Asher and Paxton are only 10 weeks apart in age - with Paxton being the older of the two - so Asher is always learning something new and trying to keep up with his snazzy, older cousin. And Julie and I, well, we just like hanging out together; we talked about how great it would be if we could take these little field trips regularly - sadly, it's not an option with us living three hours away from one another. 

My mom's subdivision - the one my sister and I grew up in - always hosts an over-the-top fireworks display. They hire parachuters carrying huge American flags to jump out of a plane, a DJ who blasts upbeat, dance music and even offer a few small-scale vendors onsite. The whole neighborhood turns into a massive block party; every cul-du-sac is filled with parked cars and people freely walk through the streets.

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My brother-in-law and nephew

If you close your eyes and image an All-American vision in Red, White and Blue, this would be it. Families partying together, folks standing at attention with their hands on their hearts while belting out "I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free...", and kids sitting on their dad's shoulders waving small American flags.

It's an all around great day. My mom always has the staples on hand - potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, jello something or other, a cake decorated with cool whip, strawberries and blueberries in the shape of a flag. We spend most of the day playing in the kiddie pools setup in the backyard, soaking up the sun. When evening draws near, we move up to my mom's large deck and drink cold beers while watching the guys bar-b-cue. The kids proudly sport their 4th of July outfits and become broken records asking "Is it time yet? Is it time yet?", impatiently waiting for it to be dark enough to play with sparklers and wear their glow stick jewelry.

Every year keeps getting better and better, and every year the kids keep getting older and older and enjoy it more. As a result, the adults enjoy it more too. Funny how kids do that - bring life to whatever's happening and make things that much more fun...  

I love this day and I can't wait for it to happen again in just a few weeks!

My Next Blog > "Who's On My Watch?"

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