I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: life sure does keep on changing! It keeps morphing into new scenarios and configurations endlessly. You can have things going for years and years and think “this is our thing!” And then, sure enough, life changes. Your baby starts walking. Your teenager heads off to college. A new baby joins the family. A big move heaves life in a different direction. Whatever it is, maybe the most “constant” thing about life is that you can be sure nothing will stay “constant.” Ha! Anyway, I’m here to talk about shifting family traditions on the 4th of July.

Shifting our gatherings as kids get older

Because we sure got that one down for a while. Every year we headed to Coronado. We met up with ten other families. The same hotel rooms were blocked off for us each year. We saved the same section of beach every day where we talked through the world, and how we were all raising our kids. We leaned on each other and learned from each other. The growing pack of teenagers came up with every group game under the sun. And buoyed each other in so many ways. We watched the same firework show with the same playlist carefully curated (thank you Brian!).

But then guess what happened? Yep, that “constant” changed.

Kids grew up. They got married. Grand babies started coming. And that hotel that was our “home” for so many 4th of July’s got a revamp. An expensive one. So we’ve all branched out and shifted up what we do for the 4th.

Still each year there’s a long group text message reminiscing about the “good old days.” But you know what? The “good new days” are pretty great too. Especially when you get to be with so many of your favorites.

Gathering for the 4th in Newport

This year was pretty special because after four weeks at Lucy’s “Teen to Work” camp, the 4th was a “family day.” So…

We got Lucy for 24 hours from her summer camp.

All the kids except Claire hugging up Lucy who was home from camp for 24 hours to celebrate the 4th of July with us

It was a pretty grand reunion to snuggle that girl up and hear so much in person about all she’s been doing at camp. Phew!

We missed Claire!

Meanwhile, we MISSED Claire Bear. She was missing us too, but she happened to be at Stonehenge that very day with a bunch of newfound dear friends…in the pouring rain.

…and she fared just fine:) She looks pretty serious in that FaceTime call up there, (maybe we had just shown her Murphy and she was in a panic of missing that baby girl!), but she is pretty overjoyed at this incredible adventure that has begun.

We were joined by my brother Josh

We missed Claire but we gained Josh:

Shawni and Josh in front of a huge American flag

Loved having him join in on the festivities.

Family trickled in little by little

First it was just Max and Abby here (Max was able to work from home and Dave and I were still on our anniversary trip…more on that soon).

Then Elle and Carson made the drive from Northern California (their externship just ended there, perfect timing for the 4th of July to be right in between).

Dave and I got home from our trip late Saturday night and I grabbed a flight first thing on Sunday morning so I could meet up with this crew:

Max, Abby, Carson, Elle and Josh at church in Newport

I was pretty happy I got to hang with Murphy at church, can you tell? Ha!

Dave hung back so he could be at church at home and also bring Lu the next night.)

I took this crew to Laguna to my favorite restaurant which was too JAM PACKED to eat at. Who knew Laguna would be that crowded on the 4th of July weekend. HA! (We were dumb.)

Somehow instead of getting pictures of the beach crammed with thousands of people I just got a picture of this beautifully worn boardwalk and how it looked with the slanting sun glistening off of it:)

Oh, heres a slightly less busy area as we made the walk down the beach while Max, Abby and Murph were cruising around trying to find parking in that crazy place.

Shawni, Elle, Carson and Josh on the beach in Laguna

We found such a good Mexican restaurant (Carmelitas), and it was fun to explore a little.

Then Grace and her sweet friend arrived:

(Who was nice enough to put up with our Murphy obsession.)

And THEN, Dave and LU arrived. So fun to be reunited with that girl of ours!

The biggest request Lu had for her “family day” was a home-cooked meal. So she was pretty pleased as punch to have her favorite honey-lime enchiladas for dinner, along with a few extra friends.

The family all gathered around the table eating a home-cooked meal Lucy requested

Followed by games and our favorite cookies.

Of course.

Also randomly Max decided to check his colorblindness level.

It’s pretty crazy and interesting how different everyone sees!

The 4th of July

Newport Beach is decked out for the 4th. I took my own little bike ride to soak in all the patriotism early in the morning (still jet-lagged).

We whipped up all kinds of things for a huge 4th of July breakfast all together:

Family breakfast with everyone gathered around as part of our shifting family traditions on the 4th

Neighborhood 4th of July Bike Parade

And biked over to the neighborhood bike parade.

Fun to run into some friends there.

friends and family at the bike parade on the peninsula

More bike exploring.

Then on to our next parade:

Newport Beach Boat Parade

kids on the Duffy waving their American flags

SO many boats all decked out draped in patriotism.

Just filling up the harbor like nobody’s business.

Beach Time

Some good beach time with Miss Murphy:

Baby Murphy wearing sunglasses on the beach

This is where the 4th got a little weird.

As sunset settled in around us, we all split up for fireworks.

Sunset over Newport Beach harbor

Dave and Lu had to head on back to check back into camp (boo hoo!).

Carson had to head up to Utah to report early the next morning for his newest externship.

Grace and friends headed to be with a whole group of kids to watch fireworks on the beach.

One of Elle’s best high school friends beckoned her to come hot tub.

Max and Abby were content to watch fireworks from the balcony since Murphy was one tired girl.

So it was down to me and Josh to watch the fireworks. How crazy is that!?

But you know what? I never get to hang with Josh so it was pretty special.

Fireworks over the Bay

Since we’re Eyres, we were pretty excited to explore something new.

Heading out to see the fireworks with my brother Josh

We joined the throng of boats bobbing around in the bay watching myriads of firework shows all over the bay.

We found the perfect spot right and marveled at all that beauty surrounding us.

As I sat there and watched, I got a little overwhelmed with gratitude.

Gratitude for that good brother of mine.

For my family spread all over the place.

So much gratitude for those Founding Fathers who put in so much sacrifice to make our country what it is.

And those who are still working to make it great.

So grateful for so many good examples of that surrounding me.

Then, as gradually as we all arrived, we all left one by one.

Max, Abby and Murphy were the last ones here and oh boy did we ever love that time together.

Grace tried to get a pic from Muprhy’s point of view:

We are always all cooing at that beauty-girl.

And, just like that, it’s back down to me and Dave again.

Yes, life keeps on changing and shifting and weaving past memories into the present ones. This shifting family traditions business is part of what makes life so interesting so I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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  1. Looks like a wonderful holiday! Would be so interested in a house tour post of your place in Newport. It looks so nicely decorated and a great space for a big group and family. Would love to see it!

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