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For the second year in a row, we have gone to the Fort Worth Stockyards for Independence Day. Last year, after having been in Texas for only a couple of weeks, we went to the Stockyards with Don and Karen for some food and other activities. The boys were still a little hard to predict in public places, so I remember spending most of my energy watching after them and making sure they had fresh diapers, had enough water, weren't getting too hot or sunburned, etc. In fact, we didn't even make it to the fireworks last year because they were still used to a 7 p.m. bedtime and were starting to lose their patience while we waited for the fireworks show.

This year, we did things a little differently. First, we watched fireworks in Roanoke with Tommy and his family on Sunday night, so we got that out of the way early. The boys really seemed to like their first real fireworks display, which lasted about 30 minutes or so. Sam actually fell asleep waiting for it to start, then he eventually roused himself for the last half of the show. Nate was awake the whole time, and by the time it was over he could hardly contain himself.

The next day, July 4, we went down to the Stockyards to let the boys see some new things and try some new activities. We started the day at the petting zoo, where we got to hand feed the goats, sheep, calves and llamas. Both boys tried it, which shocked me because the last time we were at a petting zoo Sam wouldn't even go into the area with the animals. From there, we went into the train depot for a restroom break and a cold treat. The boys both chose a cherry Icee, which Gina and I ended up finishing. After that, we went to the pony rides. I was anticipating one or both boys to bail out at the last minute, but they both actually walked right up, allowed a complete stranger to lift them onto their horse and rode the whole time without screaming or getting scared. They even managed to sneak out a smile or two for the camera. The last event of the day was a cattle drive right down the middle of the road. I'm not sure what the boys thought of this part, but I thought this part was pretty cool.

After a couple of very eventful hours at the Stockyards, we went home and watched Despicable Me before having hot dogs for dinner and heading to bed. After a very busy week, this was a great way to celebrate the freedoms and privileges we have from living in the USA. I will have more updates later this week from all of the events leading up to July 4th. A prequel if you will.