Sunday, July 10, 2011

Our 4th of July weekend

So not only is this one of those dorky posts typical of mommy blogs after a major holiday detailing all the things we did, but it is also one week late by now. It's been a busy week... I hope you'll still get a chuckle out of this.

Last Sunday morning I made a special breakfast of buttermilk waffles with syrup, whipped cream, and a choice of sliced bananas or strawberries. Yum!! We have gotten away from eating cold cereal completely, except for Becky, who would eat it for every meal if she could.

It was also "Freedom Sunday" at our church, a new yearly tradition we started last year in honor of Independence Day. We had a free BBQ lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers, sodas, chips, and watermelon after the service. (Yes, all organic - I know you were wondering... no proverbially crummy church cookouts for us!) The sermon was on the subject of liberty.

The BBQ was a success, and we set a new attendance record in the morning service. Then the kids and I went home and did nothing until the evening service. Sunday afternoons are my only time of the week to sit around and do nothing, and I really look forward to it all week long.

Monday, July 4th, I had some work to finish up on, which took me until mid-morning. I wanted to go somewhere to celebrate the holiday, rather than stay home where I knew I would just end up doing laundry and chores instead. Only problem was, that Phoenix is just too hot this time of year to go outdoors during the day. The temperatures have been around 115 degrees every day, with increasing humidity as we are approaching monsoon season.

I convinced my husband to drive up to Payson with us, which is a small town about an hour and a half northeast of here. The weather there was much cooler (in the mid-70s), because they had some storms moving into the area.We stopped at Whole Foods on the way and had a picnic lunch of sandwiches and cake in the car while enjoying the beautiful scenery out our windows.

In Payson, there were some games and activities for everyone at the park, such as foot races and tug-of-war.

 I can't believe my baby is growing up so fast!

 My husband and Isaac in the tug-of-war. The teams were Payson vs. visitors from Phoenix - we lost twice :(

 Anna LOVED this beach ball. She kept holding on to it, giggling. It was so funny seeing her buried beneath it in the stroller.

 Typical Isaac

After we were all worn out, we headed to the woods to barbecue some hot dogs we had brought along. Our plan was to go back to town at night so we could see the fireworks before heading back home after the fireworks.

The only problem we had was that because of the extreme fire danger, all open fires and use of charcoal were forbidden in the forest and at all the picnic/camping sites. Undeterred, and with six people looking at me hungry, I came up with the grand idea of heating our hot dogs on the hot engine of the van. Ew - I wasn't going to eat one myself, but I knew the kids wouldn't mind, and in fact, would think that this was a very cool thing to do. Well, it didn't work all that well, because the engine parts are all isolated, and not very hot to the touch. The hot dogs were warm on the outside, cold on the inside, and slightly dehydrated when we pulled them off 20 minutes later. My husband was rather grossed out, but I told him if it wasn't tasty, at least it was memorable.

 Disclaimers for concerned readers: The one directly on the engine was my husband's. Also, we had more hot dogs, but we decided to only cook up a few for starters to see how it would go. 

 Me mockingly hugging a tree. See that bracelet? Solomon bought that for me in Payson, as well as one each for Miriam and Becky, out of his own money. He is always so kind and generous - we are spoiled! :)

I love what you do for me... Toyota!

After our five-star dinner, we played in the forest some more, got eaten alive by mosquitoes, and eventually headed back to the town to settle down and wait for the fireworks. We got a great spot right under where they were setting them off by the lake. Becky and Miriam were a bit scared by the loud bangs at first, but did okay. With the fireworks over, we headed back home to Phoenix, where we arrived around 11 pm.

Tuesday, everyone slept in after getting home so late. We just had a day of slowly catching up on neglected chores and recovering from the holiday weekend. All the kids told us that this had been the best 4th of July ever, and how much they loved the "engine-cooked" hot dogs. They want an exact repeat next year.

In the evening, as I do every Tuesday, I went to pick up our milk from a place in Tempe. We get raw milk from a dairy about 30 miles away from here, but they have a drop site just 5 miles away from our house. As I pulled onto the freeway, I saw what looked like three gigantic brown tornadoes right in front of me, with a backdrop of black clouds. While it was still bright day light behind me, in front of me all was dark. Another few seconds later, and suddenly all day light was gone. It was as if I had driven into a very long, dark tunnel. I have been in a complete solar eclipse once before, and it was a lot like that, the way it very quickly got pitch dark in the middle of the day. Traffic on the freeway crawled to a stop as we were caught in the middle of a massive dust storm typical of the monsoon season here in Arizona (apparently, it's called a "haboob"). No rain at all, just extreme winds and lots and lots of sand. Visibility was extremely low because of the dust in the air. It reflected the headlights from my van, and having them on made me see less, not more.

Click on photo to enlarge. Photo credit: Arizona Republic; more pictures here

I got off the freeway at the next exit, which was where our milk was at.  Unsure whether pulling over would be the safest thing to do because a tree or large limb might break and crash onto the van, I opted for getting the milk and driving home. Plus, I had left Anna at home and I knew she would want to nurse when she woke up, so staying out longer than necessary was not an option. Because I had driven this way so many times before, I was able to find my way just by looking at the curb out the passenger side. After picking up the milk, I drove  home on a surface street rather than the freeway. Around me, I heard ambulances and fire trucks in all directions, but like me, they were crawling down the street. The storm had by this time overtaken our house, too, so I had to drive through it all the way home.

The scene was very surreal, but fascinating and impressive nonetheless. God can just make a storm like that come and go as He likes, and there is nothing we can do about it. It made me think of when in the last days, the bottomless pit is opened, and the smoke from it darkens the sun even during the day. I marvel how God-hating atheists do not get scared when they encounter acts of God such as this.

The dust storm left a THICK layer of dust everywhere, even in the house. It took me all Wednesday to clean the pool, wash the outside walkways and pool deck, and dust and mop the house. Later this week, I saw two large trees in our neighborhood that had been ripped up by the roots in the storm, but thankfully they did not seem to have crashed onto any houses.

Photo credit here.

And that concludes our unusual but very memorable 4th of July! :)


  1. Wow, here in Australia we are prone to dust storms when the wind is right. It can be quite amazing. Rather than darkness, ourdoors is tinted a beautiful orange brown, the sky looks almost golden. Visibility is alright for most of it, just gold tinted, but it generally lasts all day or even two days. We hadn't had one for years, and then two years ago we had 3 in one season.

    The aftermath is much the same, though I have a horrid story of one a couple years ago! I was grocery shopping with my grandmother, and hubby was at home. As it came in, he had left ALL the doors and windows open! Fly screens are no match for dust! THAT took a long time to clean up lol.

    They're a pain to clean up after, and they're not good for people with lung problems, but personally, I think they can be one of the most beautiful phenomina I have seen. The scale of it is amazing.

  2. If atheists don't believe in god, how can they hate god?

  3. What a great weekend your family had! I thought the "disclaimers" about the hot dogs on the engine were great!

    I can't imagine driving in that storm of dust. And look at the aftermath too. Ewwww. Can you breath in it? Do you have to go inside when it comes your way?

    And a verse comes to mind too...
    Romans 1:20
    For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse...

    Come Lord Jesus Come!

  4. Wow what a fantastic weekend you all enjoyed...I loved reading about your adventures! My daughter thinks your breakfast looked delicious.

    I must admit to being very impressed by the engine cooked hotdogs! My kiddos would have loved that also!

    Great photographs, you have put me to shame...I posted none at all today! Your children are all beautiful! Glad you all have a great time!

  5. Wow - that sounds like a crazy few days! I've never been in a dust storm - sounds scary! I think it's funny/sad that you have to add all those disclaimers to your pictures so that people won't think you are feeding your children not enough/not sanitary, etc. (Although I must admit those hot dogs sound gross! But, what's a mom to do with 6 hungry kids!!!)

    And, somewhat unrelated question (though you reminded me of it by saying the BBQ was organic). Do you recommend any natural remedies for sleeplessness/insomnia. I've had a lot on my mind recently and sleep has been a bit elusive.

  6. Enjoyed your dorky post, LOL. And thanks for the link to the sermon page; I found and enjoyed one of your husband's scripture memory sermons. ~Liz

  7. Wow, that dust storm is insane! Glad you guys made it through just fine.

    I have said it before, but your kids are just so cute. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that pic of Solomon. He looks like a young man now, and a very handsone one at that! And how adorable is Annie playing with a beach ball twice her size?

    Ha-ha, hot dogs cooked on the engine - not a bad idea!

    I agree with you about no cereal in the morning - I prefer to give myself and the kiddos a hot breakfast. Though I am a total cereal freak and can eat cereal at any time of the day or night. I encourage the kids to eat it for a snack; I think cereal is a healthy, filling snack.

    What a wonderful 4th weekend; thanks as always for sharing.

  8. I LOVED this post! You are always so detailed and animated in your writing style. LOVE IT! WOW! That is a lot of dust too. I have never seen a dust storm. I do however see a ton of snow storms! Definitely not the same thing but very interesting! :) Oh, and the hot dog "grilling" was very innovative. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. :)

  9. That's what it's all about-making memories. We read out of the Abeka and Landmark Freedom 11th grade American history books where they list the churches that supported the Patriots and the ones that supported King George. I also remember each time our sons turned 18 and we had 30 days to take them to the Post Office to register them for the Selective Service. Now you can register online. On the drive back home I gave them a history lesson about the MIAs during the Vietnam war. What a great cloud picture. I remember living in South Florida and experiencing my first storm there. The Palm trees were bending and almost touching the ground. The rain downpour is heavier there than on Long Island. New York houses have leaders and gutters for the rain. I was 18 and "with child". My husband was at work. It was dark outside in the afternoon. I was a Bible Christian-married in the Baptist church-so I had that "...peace of God, which passeth all understanding..."(Philippians 4:7).

  10. I am a complete sucker for these "dorky posts."

    I had no idea that "haboob" was even a word. But I'm glad that everyone was safe.

    Hot dogs on the engine was great! I showed the picture to my husband who raised an eyebrow, but thought it was a neat idea. He said that he knew that Pastor Anderson was bold, but he didn't think he was bold enough to eat a hot dog straight off the engine (joking, of course).

  11. You both are so funny! It looks like you had such a fun day! Blessings!

  12. While I would have definitely passed on the engine hot dogs (LOL!), that cake looked pretty fabulous! It's my horrible sweet tooth!

    And not that your boys aren't cute too, but those cheeky smiles of your girls would melt just about anyone's heart!

  13. Next time there is a haboob aka dust storm, please do not drive. Pull over to the side of the road, turn off your lights, take your foot off the brakes wait it out. Last year there was a 22 car pile up due to a dust storm because people kept driving. It is very dangerous to continue to drive when one of these hit. I know Anna needed you, however she also needs you for a life time.
    Thank you for obeying the fire restrict in the forest. Next time you want to cook in the car, just wrap the hot dogs in foil, little water, put them on the dash board in direct sunlight and they will be nice and hot in 30 minutes or less. I did a long time ago just to prove to people how hot it is in Phoenix during the summer, did it this 4th as a joke. The kids loved it and want to do it every afternoon for lunch. Lesson about solar cooking. Another solar cooking idea-take a cardboard box line it with foil, then place it in the sun with cookie dough on a tray, you will have great cookies within 20 min. Hot and googy which the kids like. I have also cooked eggs on the back patio with them during the summer. It is a fun science activity for the summer.

  14. You apparently don't know anything about atheists. They are not 'god-hating'. Like Anonymous said, "If atheists don't believe in god, how can they hate god?" Can't hate something you don't believe in. Do some research before spewing nonsense.

  15. abba12,

    how horrible to have to clean that up!! I can't even imagine!!!


    it was possible to breathe in it, but I imagine it wasn't very healthy to do so. It left sand and dirt grinding between my teeth. As I was driving home, I saw a young man (probably a college student) walking down the side walk. He had taken his shirt off and tied it around his face to keep the dust out. I almost offered him a ride because I felt so bad for him, but decided it was not a safe thing for a lady to do. And great verse you brought up!


    Thank you - you are always so kind and encouraging!


    I have to bite my tongue on the disclaimers, and sometimes I don't post photos because I know haters read here.

    For insomnia: hm, sounds like you need to let go of your cares before retiring for the night. Psalm 127:2 says: "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep."

    You could try taking a bath before bed, and adding some essential oil of lavender. Avoid any screen time (TV, computer, etc.), caffeine, or sugar and instead sip some chamomile tea and read a book (obviously, nothing upsetting like horror!!) Also, getting up early and working hard all day will make you more likely to quickly fall asleep at night. Praying helps calm nerves. Also, sometimes people get so worked up about not being able to sleep that they are even less likely to fall asleep. I had that problem years ago, until I read that the best thing to do is to relax and realize that resting quietly with eyes shut is almost as refreshing to the body as actual sleep. Once you relax, you'll probably be asleep in no time.


    I am so glad to hear you enjoy my husband's sermons!


    thank you. :)


    it was a lot like a snow storm.


    thank you!


    well, Pastor A HATED the hot dogs.

    Christine, thank you!

    Atheists who commented on here (I think one comment was lost because I no longer can see it),

    please note that I never said that all atheists hate God. I think a lot of them are just misguided and wrong, but I don't think they all hate God. My original sentence said: "I marvel how God-hating atheists do not get scared..." It doesn't mean all atheist hate God, it means I was referring to a group of atheists who do. If I said "I really like chocolate chip cookies", that wouldn't mean every cookie in the world is chocolate chip.

    If you must know, I was literally thinking of people like Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates. They don't believe in God, but even if they knew He existed, they have said they would hate Him.

  16. Zsuzsanna - please take more care with your children's carseats. The pic of one of your daughters needs a bit of work. The harness is twisted, very loose, and the chest clip is way too low. If the car was moving and involved in an accident, she could be ejected from the carseat because she's not properly strapped in. Check out if you need any advice.

  17. Miriam is so cute with her red LOVE shirt, I always think she's got that wholesome innocent 70ies look.


Your KINDLY WORDED, constructive comments are welcome, whether or not they express a differing opinion. All others will be deleted without second thought.