Family, the 4th, and Starcourt Mall

My Uncle Bob and his wife, Carie, came to visit the week of July 4th, and I was more than happy to host them, Grandpa, and my parents for a feast. We made a low country boil and enjoyed homemade ice cream. Chuck did a ton of the work, bless him, so he deserves a lot of credit. Now that I think of it, I’m open to low country boils instead of turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We took a family photo after dinner, per usual.

Jeremy and Uncle Bob went a few rounds on the chessboard. In the first game, Jeremy beat Uncle Bob in three moves. Not sure he was expecting that! I think a stalemate was the second result.

When our guests had gone and it was finally dark, we lit up a few low-key fireworks and sparklers, which pale in comparison to the week-long firework displays that went on all around us. Our equine and canine neighbors were not pleased!

The next morning, we took Bob and Carie on a short hike so they could get a good view of the Foothills from above. If I’ve not mentioned it before, I absolutely love where we live.

I think Major had the most fun.

When our guests were gone and the holiday weekend was free from responsibility, Chuck, Jackson, and I took to Netflix to binge the third season of Stranger Things.

MAN OH MAN did the nostalgia get me. When I say they nailed the 80s, they really did. The main new set of the third season is a MALL, and the set design was on point at every turn. Starcourt Mall was all 80s all the time. I won’t give any spoilers other than I liked this season more than the last (though not as much as the first, which was near-perfect). I was in tears when it ended.

If you’re a Stranger Things fan, you may enjoy these two articles (here and here) about the theory that Hawkins is actually based on East Tennessee. Fair warning – they include spoilers.

Jackson turns 11

Jackson has been counting down to his eleventh birthday since the calendar turned to 2017. It’s fair to say he is obsessed with it, even beyond the general obsession kids feel about their birthdays. Yes, it’s about gifts and special food and all the extra attention, but it’s about that deeper feeling – that you are so well-loved that an entire day is designed to celebrate YOU.

Instead of a big party, which we did last year for his tenth, we kept it low-key and all in the family. He chose an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen (his request) and I made egg salad sandwiches for dinner (again, his request). We also watched Stranger Things over the course of three days (fast-forwarding through the mature bits with teen romance!) because turning eleven on June 11 meant he was old enough to see what all the fuss was about. (He loved it!)

Then we made him search the house and yard for his gifts (yes, his request).

We are a Packers family, yet, here we are:

There’s also a Steelers jersey in our house now, courtesy of my parents! Blasphemy!

Yet, Jackson loved it all. Just look at his face when he discovered a pair of Hufflepuff socks –

And a Hufflepuff house banner –

And a Bucks jersey –

That’s the sign of a happy little heart.

Later in the day we enjoyed a visit from Chuck’s dad and a FaceTime session with my parents.

I also read all the well wishes people sent through social media and texts, which brought a huge smile to his face. Thanks to everyone who took the time to tell him Happy Birthday. You warmed his heart and mine.