Tag Archives: fireworks

Happy 4th of July!


On the 4th of July Grace and I found ourselves home alone for the third day while the boys were away at Boy Scout Camp and Molly was serving the people of Costa Rica. We considered different possible plans for the day but in the end decided that a day in Pittsburgh was the best plan, since we would end up in the city that evening for fireworks anyway.

Grace had a paper to write for one of her summer college classes so we got a later start which allowed me to get some chores done… chores that had been ignored the last two days while we were playing tourists around town.

At 10:00am we were on the road and headed down to the Strip District of Pittsburgh to do a little shopping. Grace had never visited the Strip District (home of ethnic food stores and international restaurants) before, so we thought it would be a fun way to start the day. It turns out most places were closed because of the holiday. That didn’t deter us from enjoying those stores that were open. It just meant we were in and out of the strip far quicker than we had planned.

Our final stop before leaving the strip was Pittsburgh Popcorn where we each purchased a treat to enjoy later during the evening fireworks show.

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From there we headed down to Point State Park where the fireworks would be taking place that evening. We thought we would find our parking spot before the crowds converged on the city and enjoy a day down at the Point.

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It was a HOT day to spend outside so we countered the 8 hours outside with some indoor sightseeing at the Fort Pitt Museum:

Fort Pitt Museum is an indoor/outdoor museum that’s in downtown Pittsburgh. It is at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers, where the Ohio River is formed. Fort Pitt Museum is surrounded by Point State Park named for the geographically and historically significant point that is between the rivers. This piece of land was key to controlling the upper reaches of the Ohio River Valley and western Pennsylvania, before, during, and after the French and Indian War, as well as the American Revolution.

The museum is in a recreated bastion of Fort Pitt, which was originally built in 1758 by the British. The historical focus of the museum is the role that Fort Pitt played during the French and Indian War. The museum also features detailed information on Fort Pitt’s role during the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion and the founding of Pittsburgh.

This was a Pittsburgh historical site that neither Grace nor I had ever visited before. It was a perfect day for a first time visit, not only because the air conditioning felt so good after our 100 degree walk in the heat, but also because of all the added activities being offered at the fort in honor of the 4th of July holiday.

We stepped inside and stepped back in time to the 18th century frontier to discover what life was like for the earliest residents of the region.

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Grace learning some period games with one of the volunteers.

Grace learning more about the fort at the meticulous diorama that gave a glimpse of 18th century Pittsburgh in miniature.

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Like a trader of old we were able to bring furs to market at the Trader’s Cabin and peer inside a replica Casemate to see munitions being made deep within the walls of Fort Pitt.

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Grace and I learned about the artillery that kept watch over the fort during the French & Indian War and were able to see if we had  what it took to be part of the crew on the replica cannon.

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Then we headed to the Soldiers’ Barracks to discover what life was like for the troops that garrisoned and protected Pittsburgh.

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With a wide range of interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages, the first floor gallery was the place to learn about daily life in 18th century Pittsburgh. We were so impressed with all the stations offered that allowed us to really step back in time and experience life at Fort Pitt.

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From there we moved upstairs to the second floor where we learned more about this area and Fort Pitt’s role in our country’s history.

In the mid-18th century, the contest for control of the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains was far from decided. Among the relative newcomers to the region were Shawnee, Delaware, and Seneca Indians in search of autonomy in the Ohio Country, as well as military representatives from the two most powerful nations in the world: England and France.

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The clash of these two great empires, which began in the backwoods of present day Western Pennsylvania, forever changed the course of world events, had powerful repercussions for Native America, and ultimately inspired thirteen rebellious colonies to declare their independence from Great Britain.

Explore these momentous events and their impact on our region in the permanent second floor exhibit, Fort Pitt: Keystone of the Frontier. The exhibit features two audio-visual presentations covering both the French & Indian War and the American Revolution, intricate dioramas of the earliest forts at the Point, and numerous artifacts, all of which paint a vivid picture of war, trade, adventure, and diplomacy on the 18th century frontier.

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After a few hours touring the Fort Pitt Museum we headed back out into the heat and sunshine. First stop: The Blockhouse. Located just outside the museum is the Blockhouse, the only original structure left standing from historic Fort Pitt.

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Grace and I enjoyed an afternoon of strolling, sightseeing, and people watching at the point.

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The heat eventually led us the water stairs (across the river on the north side) where we enjoyed some Rita’s Italian Ice while we sat with our feet in the water, trying to cool off.

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As the sun lowered in the sky the air cooled, due in part to a front moving through the area. The front brought with it its own impressive light show…

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A prequel to the fireworks that followed.

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I’d be hard pressed to decided which show was more stunning!

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It was a delightful day with my first born daughter.

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Happy birthday, USA!!


Cranberry Community Days


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That was Rusty’s motto at Cranberry’s Community Days on Saturday evening. Since Rusty was at Boy Scout Camp over the 4th of July, and had to miss fireworks, we decided that we would head over to Cranberry Township on Saturday evening to watch their Community Days fireworks.

We went for the fireworks having no idea all the other fun that was offered….

and the added blessing we discovered was that it was all free…

the best sort of fun!

Upon arriving, the first thing we encountered was the bouncy house area. The boys were so excited. It was for kids ages 14 and younger. Rusty was thrilled that he just barely made the cut, but then discovered that his size was working against him when the workers questioned his integrity when he told them he was 14.

Poor Rusty!

You could tell he was struggling with the adult scrutiny, even though he had no reason to feel guilty. I finally stepped forward and confirmed that he was being truthful, that he is just big for his age, and that he wasn’t there to cause trouble he simply wanted to bounce with his little brothers. Once the volunteers realized that he wasn’t a troublesome teen who was lying about his age they stepped aside and let him play.

The following picture KILLS me!

I felt like I was the owner of an overgrown Mastiff puppy in a dog park full of Chihuahua owners.  😉

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All the boys enjoyed the bouncy house area!

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After spending a significant amount of time bouncing we moved onto the booths that were set up around the park. It was fun to explore and check out all the fun free activities different businesses, churches, and organizations were offering.

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At the Home Depot booth some of the kids made toolboxes to take home to store their treasures in.

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Another booth was offering face tattoos and popsicles.

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Tyler and Ozzie loved the hula hoop competitions offered by a local physical therapy business.

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Ozzie was quite the hula-hooper!

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Molly loved having her face painted by a talented young artist who we discovered was a  homeschool graduate and kindred spirit.

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Isn’t she gifted?! I’m sure it helped she had such a lovely canvas to work with. 🙂

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It was a perfect summer evening and atmosphere was intoxicating. The live music, bright colors, carnival smells and bustle of people brought a magic that can only be found at a summer fair.

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When the sun began to sink in the sky we found a grassy hillside to set our blankets and chairs on and we waited for the light show to begin.

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 Rusty was the reason we came to see the fireworks, but we were all blown away by the fireworks show put on by Cranberry Township. It was spectacular and in our humble opinion beat Pittsburgh’s show this year.

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It was lovely sitting in the grass,

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on that warm summer evening,

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with my greatest treasures,

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watching the fireflies dance below the explosions of color in the sky.

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This is what summer is all about!

Happy 4th of July


“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” – Peter Marshall

The 4th of July is one of my very favorite holidays…second only to Halloween.

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I love everything about it.

I love what it represents.

I love the patriotism.

I love the family time, and the music, and the atmosphere…

and I especially love the fireworks!

This year we packed a lot of fun into the 4th of July holiday.

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We began the day fishing. The weather was beautiful and so we decided to head over to Brady’s Run to fish. It was a free fishing day in Pennsylvania so we decided to take advantage of the fact that the parents and older kids didn’t need to purchase a fishing license. We decided to fish close to home, not knowing when we would get a call from Rusty saying he was back from scout camp and ready to be picked up from church.

Before we left Toby and the little boys went worm hunting. Once they had enough worms for a morning of fishing we left and drove over to Brady’s Run where we spent a few hours fishing.

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Everyone had a good time.

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Molly was the first to get a bite. She caught a baby bass.

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After a few hours of fishing we packed up our gear and made a quick stop at the store for Sure-Jell for our afternoon project.

While still waiting for a call from Rusty we started working on the 15 quarts of strawberries we had sitting on the counter. We decided to make half into strawberry jam and freeze the other half into individual, one cup servings, for smoothie recipes.

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We set up an assembly line with some washing, some cutting, some packaging and some working on jam. By working together we were able to process and put away all those strawberries in about two hours.

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Then Toby left to pick up Rusty.

When Rusty walked in and greeted us with hugs and “hellos” the boys were stunned.

“Rusty. you got so tall!” said Tyler.

“Rusty, your voice sounds so deep!” exclaimed Ozzie.

It is funny the growth noticed in one week apart.

He did look older, appear taller, and his voice definitely was deeper. What do they feed those boys at scout camp?!

Rusty told us all about his week at camp. He had a great time and was able to earn a lot of the needed badges for advancement to the next rank.

The highlights of the week, according to him, were:

1. Lake games: an Olympic sort of challenge between the troops in which they competed in a series of muddy, messy challenges. He was proud to report their troop walked away the victor.

2. Playing Frisbee with his troop during their free time.

3. “Trail to First Class,” the series of classes he participated in for the first part of everyday. The worked on cooking, first aid, using a compass, swimming and knots.

He had a great week, despite the rain and a close call with trench foot. Luckily one of the leaders in our troop is a podiatrist that caught it early and treated it before there were issues.

After Rusty settled in and got a shower we loaded up the crew to go down to Pittsburgh for the fireworks.

The fireworks that Pittsburgh puts on are world-class and well worth the hassle of traffic and crowds. We arrived early and parked a distance away and then walked over to the point along the river. The kid loved the festive atmosphere and sites they saw as we walked along.

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We passed PNC ball park where a game was being played.

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We passed the Convention Center, where we stopped to enjoy the neat water feature that runs below the building.

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When we arrived at The Point we discovered the crowds were a quarter of what they were last year. Although in these pictures it looks crazy, it was actually a much smaller crowd than the previous year.

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We soon discovered why…

The Pittsburgh Regatta, which usually runs over 4th of July weekend, had been cancelled due to water conditions. The recent heavy rains made the rivers higher and too dangerous for the scheduled water races and shows.

So, we enjoyed the smaller crowds and walked around Point State Park.

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There was a beautiful sand sculpture on display, honoring the Steel Industry in Pittsburgh.

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After we were done seeing sites we found a spot along the river to sit and wait for the fireworks to begin. As we waited we had fun people watching and playing “I spy” and the alphabet game.

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The fireworks were amazing!

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When we got home the kids put on PJs and we went outside to end the day with sparklers.

We had fun playing with my camera and slowing down the shutter speed to capture images like these ones:



It was a beautiful 4th of July.

Everyone fell asleep quickly that night

with visions of fireworks dancing in their heads.

Today the girls and I leave for Young Women Camp.

See you in a week!

“We were so excited we wet our plants”


We finally did it…

a month late

but better late than never.

Our vegetable garden is in!

The busy month of May left us with little time to get our garden prepped and planted so on the last day of the month we found ourselves weeding, spreading manure, and planting in an attempt to get it done before June. 🙂

The day began with a trip to Home Depot to buy supplies. The little boys went with us while the big kids began the laborious task of weeding out the beds to prepare them for planting.


“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.” -Robert Brault

After arriving home we had a few hours to weed and clean out our raised beds before we had to take a break for Tyler’s first soccer game of the day at 11:00am.


Mimi Joy met us at the school to watch Tyler play before she had to meet up with a friend that she had plans with. After Tyler’s game we were back home for two more hours of weeding and fence mending before we had to leave for Tyler’s second game of the day.


Gardening requires a lot of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.” – Lou Erickson

Ellie May had fun being out where the action was. She was fascinated by some of the critters she met while outside.



At 1:00 we left for Tyler’s second game of the day while the big kids took a break for lunch. When we arrived home Toby began filling the garden boxes with manure with help from the little boys. Ozzie was grossed out and somewhat horrified by the addition of animal dung to his garden bed. After getting the beds prepped it was soon time to string off the squares for our “square foot gardens.”


A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” -Gertrude Jekyll

After prepping our garden beds it was time or the older three kids to get cleaned up and ready for their date with Aunt Beth. She was taking them out to dinner and shopping for their belated birthday celebrations. They had a wonderful time with her and while they were gone we mowed, weed-wacked the yard and planted flowers all while the little boys played.



After the kids arrived home everyone gathered together to decide who was going to take which raised bed and who was growing what vegetables. It was a lesson in diplomacy as everyone “called dibs” on which veggies they wanted and didn’t want to grow in their garden.

Each child has their own 16 x 4 foot garden bed that they are in charge of for the summer. They pick the vegetables they will grow and then they are responsible for watering, weeding and harvesting that garden. After much debate it was decided that…

Gracie would grow tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini.

Molly would grow Corn and spaghetti squash.

Rusty would grow summer squash, herbs, and sunflowers.

Tyler would grow turnips, onions, carrots and pumpkins.

Ozzie decided he wanted to grow lettuce, peppers and “pickles.” 🙂


“”Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.” – Lindley Karstens

After a long day of hard work we decided to do something fun for dinner…hot dogs and s’mores over the fire.




After enjoying our campfire for a while we sent the two little boys, the very dirty little boys, inside for baths. We told them to put clothes back on rather than PJs because we had a surprise for them. At 9:30 at night we loaded everyone up into the car, along with blankets and chairs, and drove to the neighboring town for their community day’s fireworks. It was a fun way to end a busy summer Saturday!

Waiting for fireworks...

Waiting for fireworks…


Grace and Molly

Grace and Molly

Ozzie danced to the "Booms" while Tyler snuggled under the blanket to keep warm. (Tyler is the red lump on the ground.)  :)

Ozzie danced to the “Booms” while Tyler snuggled under the blanket to keep warm. (Tyler is the red lump on the ground.)  🙂