Fourth of July AKA The Most Patriotic I've Ever Been

This long weekend was the Fourth of July weekend. It could be safe to say that I could use a little more patriotism in my life. I am not super patriotic by any means, and have felt a little turned off before by intense displays of patriotism. I think what I dislike, is an attitude of superiority. Not at all to say that patriotism equals that, but in some instances, it has come across that way. 
I appreciate where we live very much. We have freedom and security here that many do not have. We have the ability to have a democracy that is not afforded to other peoples and countries. We have people willing to fight and die for these freedoms. I may not agree with a lot of what happens in the federal government or in my own state. But I have the freedom to speak out about that if I chose to. 
So when I say "God Bless America," I surely mean it. Just as much as I mean it when I say, "God Bless (fill in any country name... Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda, Canada, Mexico, China, Iran, Etc.)"
Over the weekend, Caleb and I went to Jessie and her sister Nikki's Fourth of July parade at Orange Park Acres. I wasn't sure what Caleb would think or how he would like it, but he ended up having a great time. Part of this is largely due to Jessie's mom Beverly who was there. He stuck with her and clearly preferred her company over the company of his mom. It was pretty cute and funny. Caleb and I were also both in celebratory moods, wearing red, white and blue and feeling as patriotic as ever. You will notice his wrinkled up plaid shirt below. It's because I do not own an iron, partially because I hate ironing. I could see how in this instance, ironing would have helped. But really, who cares? 
At first when I put this shirt on Caleb, he fought it madly. He ran outside with no shirt on and I let him. I wrangled him down, put it on, and declared it his parade shirt. He later embraced it because of this special title, and told Beverly that it was his "parade shirt". 
Here is Caleb running half naked outside my car, evading my attempts to put a button up on him. He instantly dislikes any shirt with a collar or buttons. Luckily the "parade shirt" prevailed. 
So dashing.
Here is Nikki and Jessie with their bucking miniature donkeys. Any sight of them has Caleb shouting, "THEY ARE STINKERS!" He even did it earlier today, at the mere sight of their photograph. 
Such pals, Beverly and Caleb. 
This is probably my most favorite picture from the day. It just cracks me up. 

After the parade, we all went to eat lunch at Red Robin. Caleb was chumming it up with everyone around him. He could seriously teach me many things about being more sociable. Sigh. 
This is after Caleb told me many times, how he was not tired and not needing a nap after the parade and lunch. 
Later on, my sister Christine and brother in law David came over dinner and fireworks. We had enchilada casserole, salad, and s'mores. 
Jessie joined us for fireworks and managed to capture this picture of Caleb and I. It was his first fireworks ever! He claimed it was too loud, but really, it was fine. 
Jessie and I took Caleb to the beach on Saturday. Jessie and I are not beach people by any means. We both dislike the sand and ocean water. This was the first time I actually went to the beach in months. And it is the first time I took Caleb there where he actually played and had fun. Anytime before when I have taken him, he was unsure about the water and sand. This time, he loved it! That made me happy. I had lots of extra clothes for Caleb, which he needed. However, Jessie and I were fully dressed in our normal clothes and were in no way prepared for any interaction with the ocean. My outfit was the closest thing to a bathing suit that I was willing to wear. We were pretty much the only fully dressed people there. Even if I had a bathing suit, I would have been the only woman my age with a one piece. I use to hate one piece bathing suits, but I have decided that it is time to embrace them. Even if it makes me look like a seal. I'll just have to find something less...aquatic animal like. 
Here is Caleb, laughing and playing at the beach. The best thing. :)
One of my favorite parts about this holiday, was the time together with family and outside with Caleb. It was fun to see the parade with all the veterans, police cars, vintage cars, live bands, and motorcycles, etc. Ha, I sound like a mom of a boy. But it was a fun celebration of America's independence. And it was fun to how so many other families were marking the day on social media. Lots of pictures of family, food, friends, sports games, etc. 
I am grateful to God for the blessings afforded to us by living in this land. And I am grateful for  Jesus who loves us all, and who came to redeem us from the darkness that permeates this world. God Bless America. Truly.