Happy Birthday America, Let’s blow stuff up!


One of the many reasons we didn’t go to camp this last week is that the Fourth of July celebration is probably one of our favorite holidays to celebrate with Toby. Toby doesn’t have a lot of time to hang out with us so we take the time he does have very seriously. And by seriously, I mean we like to blow stuff up.

You see, Toby really likes fireworks. Unfortunately because of where we live (and our pansy-ass city council), fireworks are not allowed. We’ve tried the mentos and diet coke bombs and exploding confetti but nothing is as fun as real fire and loud noise. So this year we had a plan.

wave your flag

bbq-ing bro

First we had a little token barbeque with my brother, CC and my niece, Superchic. We figured we might as well get together since the other half of the family is off having fun at camp without us. They can celebrate with campfires and roasted marshmallows, lakeside views and mountain air but we’ll celebrate with margaritas, hotdogs and whatever we can find on television that is suitable for all ages—aka the National Geographic Channel. It wasn’t bad. We didn’t even suffer from any mosquito bites.

crackle pop

Then we all piled in our cars and drove over to a friend’s house who lives in the burbs of a nearby town that does allow fireworks. Toby had bought several bags of legal explosives the day before and put on quite a show for us. The kids seemed to be into it. They were a little frightened by the loud pops and bright flashes but a little fear makes it more fun I think.




“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh! My eyes!!!”

(Is Superchic crossing her fingers, hoping not to die?)

scary fireworks

Our little celebration got me to thinking…I’ve celebrated America’s birthday in so many ways over the years. I’ve hiked up hills to watch public shows from three towns overlap. I’ve made-out with boyfriends at tailgate parties on the Indian Reservation, I’ve watched crazy street scenes with hoodlums lighting off illegal fireworks, I’ve watched parades in Disneyland and even made champagne toasts on the patios of the mega-rich over-looking the ocean…I’ve pretty much done it all.


But I have to say that sitting on a curb with my kid, watching her Dad light stuff off is something I cherish. We might not have had the big mega explosions or the pretty lake reflections but we do have each other and the beginning of a tradition that will probably be a big deal in Bug’s life. Sure, other kids have great memories of fishing or playing baseball with their Dads but Bug is going to have great memories of her Dad blowing stuff up.

Toby watching Bug

God Bless America.

Sea World!

sea turtle!

Toby came down to visit us while we are house-sitting and took us to Sea World on Friday. Isn’t that cool how that worked out? It’s Father’s Day weekend* and he takes us out? We did make him dinner the night before and breakfast the next morning so maybe that counts for something. I think he just missed us.

A while back (probably right after I took Bug to Disneyland when she was barely a year old) Toby and I decided together (though I took quite a bit of convincing before I agreed) that we would hold off taking Bug to all the major amusement parks around here until she was older and could appreciate them more.

This was a bit hard for me to accept at first because how could I deprive my kid of all the local fun? And what better way to spend some long boring summer days than hopping off to Disneyland in the afternoon with a year pass? Year passes are great because you come and go as you please and you don’t have to feel like you have to cram everything into one day.

But Toby didn’t agree. He wanted to be with Bug on her first trip to Disneyland and Sea World and the Zoo etc… If we got a year pass and spent every odd Thursday afternoon there, the novelty would wear off and Toby would miss out because he has to work every odd Thursday (and every other day too) in order to provide for us and this freedom I have to be bored with my kid.


It turns out that Toby is right afterall. Not on the part that having a year pass to amusement parks would save my sanity but the part where Bug appreciates going more. She really does understand the concept of looking forward to something. When her cousins talk about their summer plans to go to Disneyland, she isn’t crying about how she is left out. Instead, she is bragging loudly that she gets to go to Disneyland when she is FIVE with her Daddy—as if she’s in some sort of exclusive Daddy’s Girl club.

You can imagine how glad I was when Toby softened on his wait-until-she-is-five rule when it came to Sea World this Friday. Bug might have all the patience in the world but I sure don’t. And what do you know, Bug loved Sea World. But really, I think she just loved having special time with her Dad. It was a charmed day.

I can say that now in hind sight but when our day started, I was worried it wasn’t going to turn out so well. We arrived late and stood in a terribly long line to get into the park. Then when we got in the park, we immediately had to stand in another very long line to see the Shamu show. We were worried the whole day was going to be long lines.

I guess things have changed since I was there last in nineteen eighty-something. There are lines for everything now, not unlike security at the airport. But fortunately when the show began, we filed in quickly enough so it wasn’t too terrible. But then there was the waiting for the show to start and they played all these silly movies about growing up to be a whale trainer. Bug was bored. It was looking bad.

nose dive

THEN the whales started jumping and big splashes lopped over the sides of the tank and all was saved! Three year olds are definitely old enough to appreciate big whale splashes. It was all very exciting.

on a hill

After that we wandered around, looked at the exhibits and ate our contraband lunch. Did you know you aren’t allowed to pack a lunch and picnic anymore? Everything is so different since I went to Sea World as a kid. I guess I’m getting old or something. We did picnic anyway since the very nice security guy checking our bags looked the other way. Who knows, maybe amusement park food is tasty nowadays but I had packed salami and cheese and didn’t want to waste it.

sky ride

fun zone

We caught some more shows, rode on the sky ride and let Bug have a good long play in the fun zone which I DO remember quite fondly from when I was a kid. Unfortunately, Bug was too short to ride on any of the rides (%$@#! short genes) and that was a big bummer. I think we are going to have to make a line on the wall at home at 42 inches and just not ever go to any more amusement parks until she’s that tall.


That was pretty much our day. Outside of a few arguments between Toby and I over which way we should go and which shows we should see, everything was really fun. Not crazy fun but a good day.

Then, just before we were about to leave, we were summoned by some employees to hurry and get into the Dolphin show before they closed the gates. We squeezed in right before the locked everyone in. It was the best timing! We should have tried to be late to all the shows. We got a great seat (outside of the soak zone) seconds before the show started which meant NO waiting and LOTS of splashing.


Bug LOVED the dolphins. She was enthralled. I can see now why they had all those movies before the Shamu show about little kids growing up to be whale and dolphin trainers. I can see how such a spark could be ignited. I don’t know if Bug has a scientific bent but she does love animals and she definitely loves to entertain. Who knows. We can always dream.


It was the perfect ending to the day. We walked out of the park hungry and tired but not at all grumpy. I was really surprised that Bug lasted the entire day without a single melt down and she didn’t even have a nap. Maybe she’s out-growing naps or maybe she just really enjoyed her special day with Toby. I know I did.

looking out with Daddy

*Doh! When I wrote this I thought it was father’s day weekend! But it’s not until next weekend. Which is really good because I was running behind in mailing out my toolboxes to the Grandpas! Woot! I get another week to remember!