Thanks for the great ideas on teaching kids the real meaning of Independence Day. Here's the post I ended up writing with your helpful suggestions:
Helping Kids Understand the Real Meaning of Independence Day
And along with watching lots of great video clips about the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers and all that and having a good talk about what we'd all learned in the car on the way up to Grandma's house, we celebrated here in Ashton, Idaho with Jared's family in the usual way and it was wonderful.
We decorated a pickup and the kids rode in that in the parade (they were a bit overzealous with their candy-throwing and ran out about a block down the road but we gave them the candy other people in the parade threw at us and it all worked out just fine).
There were a bunch of fire trucks - this vintage one was our favorite:
And along with all the people riding in trucks and on tractors or minimally-decorated flat-bed trailers, there was this one pretty awesome float that captured some of the great things about Ashton: Mesa Falls in the background, grain elevators, a big potato to represent the 1000's of acres of potato fields, a husky dog on a little sled since they have dog sled races here in the winter, grain for all the grain fields, and of course, the iconic Frostop root beer mug that dominates the tiny downtown. Nicely done.
After the parade, we ate tasty burgers and listened to excellent live music in the park while the kids did one of their favorite things in the world - played on the old merry-go-round there. I loved these things as a kid and yes, I know, they're dangerous - but so are so many things in this world and I wish this wasn't one of the very last playground merry-go-rounds in the world. I think we're too careful about some playground equipment and other active outdoor activities for kids and not careful enough about things like how much time our kids sit in front of screens. But I'd better not get going on that stuff right now...
Then we headed out to the cabin for a beautiful afternoon of playing in the water and enjoying the scenery and just chatting. Ashton took me for some great wave-runner rides - he's a great driver - makes it fun and gets some serious air but keeps it safe. Oliver and Silas both pulled up on waterskis for the first time and were SO excited and proud.
Hanging out with Max - dogs make everything more wonderful for the twins.
There's water at the cabin this year! For three or four years, the dam was messed up so there was hardly any water here. So great to be able to enjoy the lake again. Love the colors and beauty there so much.
As I bundled shivering Oliver into a towel, I told him how proud I was of him and he said "I just new I had it in me." Pretty cute.
One of my favorite parts of the day was when I was out on a waverunner with Eliza and Ashton and we stopped to admire the scenery in the perfect late-afternoon sun. The skies were a beautiful blue, the Tetons were crisply in view, the grain fields were waving. I taught them "America the Beautiful" (they had some vague knowledge of it) and we sang together: "Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plains..."
We ended the day with a great fireworks display. Jared's brother found some really amazing fireworks this year and we all sat on Grandma's back porch oohing and ahhing.