One of the things Gina and I have loved most about raising a family is starting traditions. We have some Christmas traditions, some Easter traditions and a few others that we intend to hold onto. Another of our traditions is going to a parade on Independence Day, which we did again this year. The parade of choice this year was hosted by the City of Arlington, and we had a great time. We came to this parade a couple of years ago, and we decided to see it again. There's nothing really flashy or awe-inspiring about this parade, but it's made entirely of hometown folks who just want to get out and represent their group and city. It reminds me of the July 4th parade in my hometown, which I tried not to miss each year. After taking in the firetrucks, high school marching bands and mini-bike Elvises (that's for you, Aunt Katie), we headed home and packed up for the second leg of our journey.

 Our next stop was to Granny and Granddad's house to drop off our dog and have lunch. We only stayed for a little while because we had to head to the Gooch farm for a 4th of July dinner and fireworks show (provided by Chad and I!). The weather turned out to be pretty nice, and a heavy rain a couple of days before helped minimize the fire danger. Being rather new to the fireworks game, I did not really know what kind of fire crackers to get. Needless to say, my fireworks created quite a lull in the production. Thankfully, Chad was able to make up for my lack of experience with some exploding, colorful artillery shells. My favorite part of this whole activity was watching the boys run so hard after the fuse was lit that they would miss the fireworks. Maybe next year they can actually watch them.

After the July 4th celebration, we headed to Granny and Granddad's for a couple of days to spend time and go see Big Daddy (my grandfather). We spent a lot of time in the yard, resting and playing with the awesome train set. On Friday, Tommy and his crew stopped by on their way to Simpson, LA for the weekend. We had a great dinner and the boys got to play with their cousins.

On Saturday, we packed up and met them in Simpson for a weekend of fishing, playing in the creek and other farm-related fun. The boys' favorite part of the visit was riding the Gator with their cousins, as well as petting Dolly the Cow. We also got to attend First Baptist Church Simpson with Uncle Norwyn, but the boys didn't make it through the service. I know God understands how hard it is for a 4-year old to sit still for an hour after riding a John Deere Gator all weekend. After eating lunch, we packed up and climbed back in the car for our journey back to Dallas/Fort Worth. I think this photo sums it up pretty well ...

You can see more photos from our adventures in our photo album.