We do it up for the 4th of July. Actually, we do it up on the 3rd, but rock it like it’s the 4th. Hank likes to prepare strategically for the exploding stuff by organizing a trip to Wyoming each year, and this year we had a fireworks buffet.

Ewan sat as keeper, presiding close by…

While our neighbor, Andy, made sure Ewan didn’t eat any of the small, round smoke bombs he kept trying to swipe off the tray.

Truth be told, I’d bet that Andy was just as excited as the little ones about lighting stuff on fire. And Hank, well he was starting to heat up the grills (yes, plural) to begin the smoking of the chickens.

And then he gathered his up his grillin’ powers. I swear I heard him roar.

At 4:30 on the nose, Holden’s dreams came true. He is old enough to finally hold his own punk and light his own smoke bombs.

And still has the good sense to run away once it’s lit.

We like our fingers and toes around here just as they are.

And oh, around this time the other food began to arrive. These little delicious pies didn’t stand a chance. Especially with Ewan and me manning the food table. We took a few breaks to taste stuff.

It nearly made Ewan cross-eyed just trying to get his mouth close enough to give it a nibble.

With the food came more troops, and very soon after, all of those little fingers began to change to a smoky gray from lighting smoke bombs, smoke towers, smoke-o-rama whatchamacallits and you-name-its.

And then it was time for more pie with a chaser of juice.

For the wee ones, there were poppers. You know, those little white paper teardrops that you throw hard as you can on the ground to make them explode? Ah. Those are my favorite. And this sweet one just happened to pick it right up.

Complete with a resounding, “yes!”

And just a touch of pride in his accomplishment.

Neighbors and friends began to pile in, all spread out on our front lawn and getting down to some good summer hangin’.

And this little capture makes me wonder if Dawn has her finger on the 911 button in anticipation of lighting the pile of firecrackers in her lap…hmmmm.

And this one? Well. You can just forget those stinkin’ fireworks. He found watermelon. And he ate it for the next three hours, pretty much non-stop.

As the littles worked together to figure out what they could safely explode next,

The big kids started inching closer to the street and pulling out the loud stuff. There’s just not much that brings these kinds of smiles to grown men. And women.

But after spilled cups of water warranted in-the-air outfit changes,

And happy toddler feet began to collect dirt and grass and soot,

The wee ones began to poop out and the sun began to dip.

So we tucked in the babes and lit paper lanterns and got down to business.

And oh, was there carnage. The street was filled with remnants of loudness and sparks and smoke, but you know what? We lived. We pulled all that we could out of the night and laughed to the moon. And after we fell back on the cool grass with drinks in our hands, too full bellies, and a few singed fingertips, we got up, swept the street and shoveled the carnage, and crawled into bed layered with scents of smoke and sparklers and key lime pie.

Here’s to another, GREAT Independence Day party. We raise our glasses to those of you out there who have made this possible, year after year, and to our friends who celebrate with us.

Happy 4th of July.