I am sitting here basking on the memories of all the hoopla surrounding celebrating the 4th of July.

That is a good holiday in my book.
We sat in church last Sunday…in California…our first Sunday back since Africa…all crowded in the same pew with my sister-and-brother-in-law’s visitors from Denmark (who we got to hang out with a bunch and learned so much from!).  Some of the talks incorporated little tidbits about our nation and lots of thoughts hit me a little extra this time around.  So interesting to think about our country and my gratitude for it and our forefathers.  I thought about how much we have going for us, and also so much we have to work on.  I worry about some things that I think are going wrong, and I revel in the parts I think are going so right.  It was interesting to talk to those cute boys about Denmark when the meeting was over and hear their thoughts about America.
I have so much more to say on that matter but don’t want to get political here since thoughts tend to get garbled and scrambled and mixed up in myriads of ways on a blog.  So I’ll just say I’m so grateful for this place I get to call home, purple mountain majesties, amber waves of grain, great and spacious skies.  All those things that take my breath away.  But even more importantly, the people.  The kindness that prevails.  And I hope we can uphold so many things that bring us freedom and liberty and remember how beautiful all that goodness is as some things get more and more murky.  We have so much to love and be grateful for it is overwhelming.
After taking a year hiatus to attend the BBS conference in Utah that happened to be surrounding the 4th last year (back HERE), we headed back to Coronado to celebrate that big day with friends we love.
This is how these girls felt about that:
We arrived so happy to greet everyone and catch up in a circle on the pool deck with this as our backdrop:
The kids took over the lobby like they tend to do each year, playing so many different kinds of games:

…and when it gets late, we move to this conference area in an effort not to disturb other guests:

The next morning was the 4th of July and we utilized the beach to hang all day long:
That evening it was time for our traditional gathering on this little lawn.  We always meet when the light is the prettiest and there is just something so happy about all those people gathering in their red, white and blue, ready to celebrate:
But really, we need to back up here for a minute.  because you see Elle up there?  Well, we were always planning to have her, but we were trying to figure out a way to get Lar there as well.  We didn’t think it was going to work, so this was how the girls were looking at that thought:

(they sure love that guy)

But happy day: he somehow made it work and he joined us.  I think Elle was happiest about that, but her sisters were in close competition 🙂

So this is really a more appropriate picture of our group:

There we go.  But really, we need Max and Abby in there.  WE MISS YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!!

Each time we go to Coronado I get so overwhelmed with gratitude for these kids who have been such lights over the years.  It is so strange how much they are all growing up so quickly…a couple married with babies already.  Yikes!

There’s just something I love so much about the togetherness of these kids over so many years.

Some of the teenagers I could gather:

Some of the college-age kids:

The moms and dads:

More teenagers:


More sister love 🙂

Op!  And more teenagers/young adults doing what they do when we arrive at the golf course:

(They always come up with some kind of a game standing in a circle like that…I’ve never joined in, but it seems they’re always somehow in that configuration.  Ha!)

We have pizza and enjoy the slanted light of the lingering sun.

And then some kids get decked out in glow sticks.  Funny how this has changed since so many are growing out of this and there were only a handful that got into it this time around.

Gosh I hate that kids have to grow up.

But also gosh, there are so many things to love about that growing up.  One of my favorite things about the 4th of July was listening to all those kids belt out the songs Brian had going on the loud speaker to go along with the fireworks, all in unison and all with big smiles oohhhing and aahhhhing over all those blasts of color above us in the night sky.

A little post-firework adult night:

One girl from another group there hosted a “high fitness” workout class that was so fun to attend with my big girls:

And we switched things up a little this year and played some tennis one evening.

…with our friends who love tennis and we all had the best time switching in and out for doubles…the girls playing against each other, the moms against their girls, then the dads joined in and played against the girls too, then the moms against the dads.

Here are the dads fighting hard to beat their girls:

And the whole group:

And the parents after the dads beat the moms:

(Darn it!)

Love that someone is holding a flashlight for Lucy so she could see to play Bananagrams:

And also, poor Addie and her broken leg up there!

Beach stuff…

(always some kinds of games and competitions going on…and lots of talking)

The girls and I have some serious “goals”/”expectations” this summer…a result of a mad mom that I’ll have to go into detail about some time when I get a chance, but these girls are going like gangbusters (under their mother’s iron fist some of the time) with reading and memorizing and exercising, etc.  Lucy has become quite addicted to a series of books she is listening to (The Selection), and would hardly take out those earphones.  Hmmmm…it’s feast or famine around here I guess!

(She has taken to listening to books rather than reading since she really cannot see the print well enough any more…something that is weird to just say kind of nonchalantly here since it is heavy on our hearts, but I’m SO grateful she has this little iPod the school let her check out for the summer and she can listen to pretty much any book she can pull up.)

So this is how I felt when I finally saw her ready to intermingle with humans again:

Oh wait…those earphones are still plugged in…

One night the kids watched a scary movie in our friends’ room…it was so funny to walk in to this scene:


I had to zoom in on Claire’s face:

My kids don’t love scary movies yet they are drawn to them somehow.  Interesting phenomenon I should do a study on some time.  Ha!

Lu and I went on a scavenger hunt to try to see if we could get up to this balcony:

We didn’t have any luck, but we did find parts of the hotel we had never seen before:

…and some picture histories too:

Our last night was filled with last games…the kids desperate to hold onto all that fun for as long as they could.  I don’t know where they come up with all these games, but this one was pretty hilarious:

It’s called “triggers.”  One person goes out of the room and you tell the person to the right of you what you want them to do when you or someone else “triggers” a clue.  For example, “If I fold my arms, you yell out “bananas!” or “if Blake laughs, you need to crawl around the circle,” or “if McCall touches her hair you have to go hug the person in the middle” etc.  So then the person who hasn’t heard any of those plans comes back in, they have to stand in the middle of the room and try to guess one of the “triggers.”  Does that even make sense?  Here’s a visual that was cracking us moms up:
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I’ll put more stuff on Instagram….We need to try that and some of the other games at our reunion this summer.

Some of the dads had their own game going in the hallway (the security guys were nice enough to give us a conference room to use for the night…which was smart since you can hear from that video that this group wasn’t the quietest you can get!)

Then we all had to say our goodbyes, gosh darn it.

Until next year.

We headed to church the next morning:

And to Sunday brunch:

With our own “game” added in (a coin guessing game):

Whoops, my hair is covering Grace, sorry Jammers!

And then we split up and went our separate ways.  Excited to see Elle again at the reunion and also Lar this summer, but gosh, we’re sure missing Max and Abby so much!

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    1. I don't think I have ever done a post about that. I'm working on revamping this blog when I switch to WordPress and I'll keep that in mind to add!

    1. These are just friends. Some from college, some from Dave's growing up, some we've met through the others. One family decided to start this tradition years ago and invited a bunch of families and it just stuck.

  1. We've never stayed there before but have always wanted to. With 4 kids what do you suggest for the rooms? Would they be able to bring in a rollaway bed or camp out somehow or would we need to get two rooms? Just wondering how lenient the hotel is on max people in one room.

    1. We all just cram our families into one room. The hotel is so nice about that. This time we had two roll-aways and only one person on the floor in our room, but we usually have a couple kids on the floor. It is actually kind of comical getting seven people in there with all our "stuff," but we stay in the little rooms by the pool and they all have little "porches" to expand a little bit.

  2. The hotel at Coronado is amazing! The SEALS train nearby and I totally freaked out when we saw a
    submarine surface :). Since I'm such a Navy geek we loved visiting Midway. The docents were phenomenal.

  3. I would love more info on Coronado as well. How do you make it work with such a large group? Do you stay in the villas? Do you do your own family meals, or all together? Does one family plan it or do you all plan it? Would love more info – like a travel blog, ha – on the how to of it all! Also is this where you stay when you do your foil meals on the beach? Is that allowed there?

    1. One family started this tradition and they're still going strong. Love them for making this happen! The families that come fluctuate from year to year, some have been added, some have decided to opt for different 4th of July activities occasionally, but the majority of the core families go every year. We usually plan one adult meal one of the evenings (wish I had taken a picture of that this year, but I forgot), and we all bring food to keep in our rooms so we can whip up lunches, breakfasts, etc. Everyone kind of does their own thing as far as eating goes, but sometimes groups of the kids (or families) will walk into Burger Lounge or to get bagels, and people make frequent runs to La Salsa when we're all on the beach and people start to get hungry. It just sort of works out without much planning or prep, which we love.

      This isn't the place we do tinfoil dinners, we do that when we're at Newport Beach, another place we love in California.

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