Category Archives: Travel With Kids

A College (Re)Visit


This past weekend, we took  Allison (and Emmie) on our first “official college visit” as a family.  Allison had already been on another, with her aunt, but this was the first “taking a child to see a college in which they’re interested” for the rest of us.  I thought I would feel really old but at first it didn’t seem like that—a lot of things brought back memories of our own college days for Andy and me and it really did seem like it was yesterday.  It was fun remembering and answering the questions both girls peppered us with as we walked from point to point on our group tour. But we were reminded several times that it really wasn’t yesterday, and I’m surprised the girls would even consider us as a source of reliable college information. 

For example, when Emmie asked me, “What do students do about having  a TV?” I said, “Well, most students don’t bring a TV because there’s not room for one in their dorm room, and if they do bring one, they have to use a “rabbit ears” antenna, like I had to do, because there are no cable hookups.”   Wrong-o.  A few minutes later, Emmie pointed to a line in a brochure – cable TV hookups in every room.  I should have known. And those dorm residents probably bring hi-def flat screen versions with a Blu-ray player to boot.   I mean, a lot has changed in 30 years.  (Dang, has it been that long??) Laptops are an essential school supply of today’s college student and WiFi is everywhere.  Some textbooks are “downloadable”.  The cafeteria has a “vegan bar”.  The students use pre-loaded money cards to pay for laundry (no fishing for quarters—imagine!) and they do not have to share a bathroom with a dozen or more of their peers.   Some dorm rooms even had kitchenettes!  And (shock) they ALL had carpet!!!


But even though I ended up feeling like a dinosaur, the tour was still enjoyable.  I love seeing the “mini-worlds”, the self-contained “bubbles”, created by a college campus. The on-campus stores; the hidden bowling alleys, the bulletin boards everywhere listing nonstop concerts, lectures, and midnight movies ; the green spaces, chapels, and monuments;  the study lounges, rec centers, coffee shops, and cafeterias; the library, career center and clinic. I love thinking about all the possibilities and pathways that can be explored while there.  And I remember how excited I was to be a part of it long ago.


True, people can debate the merits of a college degree. Some of our most successful business leaders in America had little to no college.  But there’s something about college life that to me is nothing but positives.  Even working at a college is energizing—I once worked at a community college for nine years and found it to be a fantastic work environment.   There was always something going on to feed your brain, your body or your soul, from lobby fashion shows from the clothing design students to six-course lunches and dinners prepared by our chef students to even theatre productions that anyone, even non-students, could try out for. (I finally did once, and got a pretty good part!)  


Even if someone never attends college and/or never works at one, if they simply live and work in a “college town”– I wonder if they enjoy the proximity to higher learning.  Surely they do.  In an article by Nancy Smith of CBS MoneyWatch last week called “The Ten Best Places to Retire”, seven of the ten were college towns.  “Retired Americans are flocking to the culture and arts scenes and state-of-the-art medical facilities offered by college campuses,” stated The Huffington Post in Dec. 2011. And college campuses are reaching out to better include the older crowd, according to a a report by the Associated Press.


I sure hope my kids get to experience college life someday.  And I think I want to go back for seconds.

Pottermania: What a Fun Ticket to Ride It’s Been

We all have “I remember when” things we can say, that vary depending on our age, when it comes to historical events that we’ve experienced.  The day Kennedy was shot, the first moon walk, personal computers become a household item, 9/11…history-making events and milestones are happening all the time.  But not every generation can say they grew up amidst the worldwide excitement and hysteria over something creatively great, as it’s being created.  For example, lots of people will continue to love the music of The Beatles, but only some can say they grew up looking forward to every Beatles record release or being one of the first in line at the record store to buy those releases, or saw the Beatles in person, “live in concert”.  And many people will continue to love J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and watch the movies on DVD, but only some will be able to say they were at the book store the day (or week) one of those books was released, and only some can say they got to look forward to, and experience, a new Harry Potter movie release almost every year.  I’m so thankful my kids can count themselves in this latter group, and so glad to be a parent who has experienced it right along with them.

I mean, think about it—does phenomenal, ground-breaking creativity with massive appeal like this happen all that often? Yeah, in addition to the Beatles, there was Elvis, and there was Michael Jackson—but did any of their work cross generations (at the time) like Pottermania has? While kids grooved to the Fab Four, “The King of Rock ‘n Roll”, and Jacko, parents were not exactly thrilled…and though Star Trek and Star Wars has its following, I see more males into them than females, and more parents of boys than parents of girls.

But this is different.  More adults and children, parents and grandparents, males and females, are Potter fans, often together enjoying the books and movies.  (Yes, non-fans, they’re that good!) While our family is not what I’d call “fanatical”, we are fans.  Emmie once dressed as Hermione for Halloween, and when she was 8 years old, she carefully wrote a letter to Emma Watson in England (who portrays Hermione in the movies), and heard back from her about six months later (the letter included two autographed photos!).   Allison read every book, and introduced us to “Potter Puppet Pals” and “A Very Potter Musical” on YouTube.  We’ve all enjoyed family outings to see the movies when they’re released.  And we will never forget our day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Florida last fall, where all of us, including our exchange student, tasted “butter beer” (it’s like cream soda, Dr. Pepper and whipped cream mixed together) and walked the halls of Hogwarts. (“Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”, a “ride” inside the castle, is hands-down the best theme park attraction I’ve ever experienced—talk about overwhelming, profound joy!  And I’m usually a wimp when it comes to rides!)

Allison is attending her first (and unfortunately, the last)
midnight Harry Potter premiere tomorrow night and has been deep in thought lately, trying to figure out a costume to wear.  While I’ll be passing on that experience, I know it will be electric to get that first glimpse among so many die-hard fans.  “I think I’m going to cry when the credits roll at the end,” says Allison.  I can understand.  But again, I can also thank God my kids had the privilege of being kids during the era of Potter.  What fun!!! What great stories they can tell their own children some day!! There may be more dangers in the world now than when John, Paul, George and Ringo hit the stage, but maybe this generation will be inspired to eliminate those dangers thanks to the courage, ethics and love shown by Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Uncool and Biblical

On our recent family trip to Iowa we took a tour of an Amish community– rode in a van with a tour guide through rolling farmland and saw homestead after homestead of Old Order Amish families, working in gardens, driving wagons down the highway, running through the fields barefoot… there are 2,000 Amish living near Kalona, Iowa (almost 200,000 in the U.S.) and according to our guide, the community is growing, thanks to their large average family size.   It was fascinating, like something straight out of the movie, Witness, but Emmie thought it was just plain stupid that anyone would want to live like that.  No electricity (the Amish stores we visited used only skylights for lighting), no in-home phones, schooling only through the 8th grade, long pants and dresses all the time, even in the hot summertime… They subscribe to this type of lifestyle due in part to a Bible verse that advises “do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) and similar verses in other chapters that refer to not being “of the world”.

While most of us gawking tourists probably thought we had nothing in common with the hat-clad people outside our van windows, it struck me later that all uncool moms and any parent who’s ever tried to pull their kids back from the “everybody’s doing it so why can’t I” attitude has a bit of the Amish, and scripture, in their actions (and if you’re really uncool like me and have your kids do their own laundry and other chores, you share even more in common!).  Who knew that “Just because your friends jump off a cliff doesn’t mean you have to do the same!” was inspired over 2,000 years ago?! (Well, God is a parent, after all…)

So, in addition to the postcards and apple butter I brought home, I’ve also got a few new items to add to my arsenal of parenting lines. Now when one of my kids defiantly asks, “Why can’t I?” I might choose to answer, “Because God says so!” or “Because the Bible says so!” or, “BECAUSE I’M GOING AMISH ON YOUR ASS, THAT”S WHY!!!”  (Oops, sorry, I wouldn’t really say that…I’m still a little sleep deprived from that long drive back from Iowa…)

The Two-And-A-Half Month Bucket List

While not yet officially in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term “bucket list” is something most people now know and use thanks to the 2008 movie of the same name, meaning “a list of things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’, i.e. die”.  Entrepreneurs have happily taken that term and capitalized upon it– amazon.com currently offers 16 different “bucket list books” including everything from the Sex Bucket List to the Christian Bucket List to the Baseball Fan’s Bucket List; the website reaperlist.com gives people a place to store their lists, check them off  and “discover others who will see your list and hold you accountable to it”.   There are even Android and iPhone bucket list apps… People now also use the term to simply mean things they want to do before a certain deadline, i.e. they may have a “college bucket list” (things to do before you graduate) or a “parenting bucket list” (things you want to do for/with your kids before they’re grown and gone).  The Dallas Morning News has been running a heart-wrenching series about a local boy with cone-rod dystrophy, who’s losing his eyesight and is traveling across America with his own bucket list of things to see before he can’t see anything anymore. Recently he was in New York City, where he memorized the sight of Lady Liberty and stood on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange. 

While my family is not facing the tragedy his family is facing, his story does remind me of another bucket list that I need to “tend to”– Things We Need to Show Our Foreign Exchange Student Before She Leaves.  And that departure deadline is fast approaching, in late June. 

We’ve gotten complacent with just blending her into our everyday lives and have slacked off on travel, adventure, and doing the local “tourist stuff” we figured we’d get around to eventually. But she’s leaving in 73 days, and that gives a whole new meaning to even simple destination questions like “Where should we go for dinner?”.  What if she’s never able to return to the United States again? What should we be showing her? What can we afford to show her? What are things close by that she hasn’t seen yet? Yes, we have taken her to Florida and to see the Johnson Space Center in Houston, not to mention Glen Rose, Granbury and Dublin, Texas,  and she’s going on a big trip to Washington, D.C. in a couple weeks with other AFS students…but there’s so much more to see!  And looking on our busy calendar, among the upcoming 73 days there’s only two or three open weekends available. My sister-in-law Marti says we’ve got to take Cleo to New Orleans, others say the Grand Canyon…heck, there’s a lot just in Texas alone she still hasn’t experienced…bat caves and bluebonnets, tubing down the Guadalupe, Gulf beaches, a longhorn cattle drive, the Dallas Arboretum…we know for sure that we’re driving to Grandma’s in Iowa for a week in June and so I’ve been figuring out all the things we can show her on the way up and back, in addition to the Amish village that Cleo has requested to see while we’re there…

We can’t “do it all” in 73 days, so we’re going to have to plan carefully and just do what we can.   And with fuel prices heading toward $3.80/gallon today, that adds yet another element to the challenge.  Stay tuned, and please send any “bucket list” suggestions my way in the Comments section below (Facebook readers, remember you have to go outside of Facebook to www.uncoolmom.com in order to comment on the blog directly.  I’m getting out my pen, paper, calendar, and calculator right now!

Musings On Spring Break

We used to have a rule in our family: no traveling over Spring Break. Places were too crowded, rates were more expensive—it just didn’t make sense.  I mean, why venture somewhere when so many families and college students are trying to do the same thing, all at the same time? We would stay home, and the kids would do fun things around town, like visit nature centers or go to tennis camp. Then one year, our school district scheduled an earlier-than-normal spring break, and we took off for Disney World. It was great—not too crowded, and lines so minimal we could ride things twice in a row if we wanted. Thus started our family “tradition” of traveling over Spring Break, even though the dates have never been as early since.   Now six years later, I am finally wondering, “What were we thinking?”

We only went about 130 miles from home this year, but definitely felt the crowds this time. No, the giraffes don’t want to come feed out of your hand (and your car) at the wildlife park, or have much to do with you at all, because the 30 cars in front of you have already fed them. And petted them.  And taken their picture. And no, you can’t tour the Dr. Pepper bottling plant because all the people who got there before you booked up all the tours for the entire day.  And yes, when you walk across that riverbed at the state park to see the dinosaur tracks, you will have to share those wobbly boulders with many other people who are walking back across. Excuse me while I flail my arms wildly to keep from falling in!!! How did we manage to travel happily over Spring Break for the last six years and not feel the pinch of the crowds much until now?

I have been thinking back on our previous trips, and I think the key to avoiding Spring Break crowds and lines is to do things that aren’t “typical”. For example, staying at a beach all-inclusive that’s not near a lot of tourist sites, with lots of activities on the property just for guests, and far away from the hot spots frequented by college students. Or, doing offbeat or traditionally “adult”-type things that kids actually like, too—some of the historic Hot Springs, Arkansas bathhouses, for example, welcome kids, and since not many families know that, ours enjoyed them crowd-free during Spring Break 2008. In 2007, we ventured to Hollywood, but didn’t do the typical bus tours, which I’m sure were crowded, and instead opted for less-publicized things like touring the Kodak Theatre (not crowded), riding in a whale watching boat off the coast of nearby Long Beach (also not crowded), and walking around the Hollywood Bowl during the day, letting the kids run among the seats and go on stage (we had the whole place all to ourselves).  On our trip last week, my favorite excursion was going to a drive-in movie theatre— a great experience for all of us, especially our exchange student, who’d never heard of them before.  Again, something offbeat and not listed in any of the brochures I found at the hotel, and we had no trouble getting a spot. (Internet research definitely pays off!)

We’ve also found that doing anything athletic, like biking or hiking, at a place not known for that, also usually means less crowds.  In Hollywood, we hiked up to the Griffith Park Observatory (rather than drive or take a bus) for one of the best views in town (and a great along-the-trail view of the “Hollywood” sign), but saw hardly anyone else on the way– definitely a nice contrast to the masses we met once we got to the top!  Last week in Granbury, Texas, known more for its antiquing and B and B’s, we biked through town along a beautiful paved hike/bike trail called “Moments in Time”—and encountered no other bicyclists. (Again, not publicized in any of the slick, four-color brochures, but found on the Internet, after considerable “digging”.)

True, the more a place/activity is talked about, the less obscure it is, but I think as long as the majority of American Spring Break travelers keep gravitating toward what’s traditionally mainstream, we offbeat travelers will always be able to find a place “far from the madding crowd”…

Spring Break 2007:  Allison and Emmie onstage at the Hollywood Bowl


Spring Break 2011: An uninterested giraffe


At least Emmie got to feed an ostrich at the end of the tour!

Permanent Vacation

            Manatee and calf
We had a great vacation, but like Emmie says, the packing and traveling parts are the worst.  And the unpacking.  And, I would have to add, the “vacation withdrawal”.  Oh, I’m glad to be back with my sweet dog and my comfortable bed, healthier food and not getting lost everywhere we drive…but when you’ve had a wonderful time being away, getting back to reality is tough.
 

I once got the brilliant idea, after we’d just returned from a family trip to Xcaret in Mexico, of trying to live life like we’re always on vacation, so the “come down” wouldn’t be such a bummer. I wondered, ‘Why do we do things so differently when we’re away from home?’ and remembered a book I once read, Living A Beautiful Life, by Alexandra Stoddard. It talked about doing little things every day to treat yourself special, you know, like not saving the good dishes just for guests.  So I got up early to try to see the sunrise from our front porch, just like on vacation…I read the newspaper outside on the backyard patio for a change.  I served dinner buffet style, just like at the resort where our family had stayed.  But old routines soon set in.  The house needed to be cleaned, and groceries needed to be bought, and where can I see a decent sunrise in the suburbs, anyway?

This time, I haven’t even tried to soften the blow. I just close my eyes while I’m waiting in the carpool line at school, and remember.  It’s hard to believe that almost exactly 3 days ago, I was underwater, face-to-face with a baby manatee, and swimming freely with several more manatees in Kings Bay, near Crystal River, Florida…

Maybe the best way for me to get through vacation withdrawal is to download all my photos and decide what I’m going to do with them. Print them and put them in frames? Make a scrapbook page? Post some to the blog? (I promise they’ll be better than the ones I posted from the road.)  Or maybe the best antidote is to start planning our next adventure—even if it’s probably a long way in the future.  At least I take comfort in knowing that there will be a next adventure, whether it’s an hour away or a day away…because as I’ve said before, traveling together is one of the best things that any family can do. 

True, no trip, especially with kids, is ever perfect.  We did have whiny, unruly passengers with us sometimes (including our wacked-out, mentally challenged GPS, Juanita) and the second hotel where we stayed left much to be desired (should have paid more attention to the negative commentors on TripAdvisor.com).  But the fact that we all bonded more, especially with Cleo (who knew that she had such a great sense of humor?) is worth every cold Danish pastry and uncomfortable airplane seat you can throw my way.  We left as two parents with two daughters and a foreign exchange student– we came back as one family.

Sunday Scrapbook: Florida Done Better

Yes, Virginia, there is more to Florida than theme parks. And I’m not a native Floridian or getting paid to promote Florida, but when you take time to plan a Florida family vacation and travel far, and spend your hard-earned money, and always keeping in mind that you may never visit again, don’t you want to give your kids a broader education than just Mickey Mouse?  This is our second trip to Florida with kids in tow and each time I’ve tried hard to answer that question, YES! The first time, in addition to the House of Mouse, we added an evening at a place called Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, drove around Orlando and explored the Disney-designed utopia known as Celebration, and drove only 40 minutes to the Atlantic Ocean and Canaveral National Seashore, where we played on the beach and got to see a rocket take off.  It’s especially important this time around, since we have a foreign exchange student living with us, so this time, we’re spending one day at Universal in Orlando and the rest of the trip, at Amelia Island to the east, and swimming with manatees to the west.  In only four days.  Here is the first photo from our excursions– Happy 10-10-10!

                                      

                        Emmie and Andy check out the Atlantic Ocean
                        after sunrise on Amelia Island, Florida, 10-10-10.

Road Trippin’

Just got back from taking the kids (and the dog) on our annual summer road trip to Grandma’s (a 26-hour round trip) and while there, we decided to rent a movie and teach Grandma how to use her DVD player. It’s hard to find a movie on which an 86-year-old, a 15-year-old, an 11-year-old and two 40-something parents can agree, but at Allison’s suggestion we chose “RV”, a 2006 family road trip movie starring Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenowith, Cheryl Hines, Will Arnett and teen pop star Jo Jo. While it’s not Academy Award-caliber, it was a good choice that all of us enjoyed and has a great opening scene that Andy and I could so relate to…a darling little girl sits on her bed, giggling while her daddy (Robin Williams) entertains her with sock puppets.  After Mom walks by and scolds him for getting the girl riled up at bedtime, the girl tells Daddy she doesn’t ever want to leave home and get married so she can always be with him, and he tells her that no matter where she goes they will always have a special friendship (fade to black).  The next scene shows Robin Williams driving a car, a frown on his face as he angrily talks to his daughter, now 15, who sits behind him, chewing gum, Ipod earplugs in her ears.  She’s mad at him and calls him a name (was it Dork? Loser?) because they’re driving to pick up her friend and he doesn’t know where the friend lives.  Robin Williams looks like he’s going to cry.  “Dad, she just gave you the finger!” pipes up her younger brother, also in the back seat.

By the end of the movie (and their family road trip in an RV), the daughter appears to have changed her attitude about Dad.  Hmmm… even though we don’t rent an RV (yep, that’s my aravan doing all that driving), I do think my own status was raised slightly in Allison’s eyes during this trip because we visited my college alma mater on the way home and ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe near campus, and since it appeared to be freshman check-in day, Allison got to do major people-watching.  We walked and drove around campus and the girls asked me lots of questions.  Allison said it was the highlight of her trip. 

Andy, unfortunately, didn’t fare as well.  Turns out he’d turned off the AC on the second floor of our house just before we’d left town, so teen daughter did not appreciate the sweltering 93 degrees that welcomed her tired body when we drooped into our bedrooms last night at 1 a.m. 

Ah, family road trips…gotta love ’em!

Road Trippin’

Just got back from taking the kids (and the dog) on our annual summer road trip to Grandma’s (a 26-hour round trip) and while there, we decided to rent a movie and teach Grandma how to use her DVD player. It’s hard to find a movie on which an 86-year-old, a 15-year-old, an 11-year-old and two 40-something parents can agree, but at Allison’s suggestion we chose “RV”, a 2006 family road trip movie starring Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenowith, Cheryl Hines, Will Arnett and teen pop star Jo Jo. While it’s not Academy Award-caliber, it was a good choice that all of us enjoyed and has a great opening scene that Andy and I could so relate to…a darling little girl sits on her bed, giggling while her daddy (Robin Williams) entertains her with sock puppets.  After Mom walks by and scolds him for getting the girl riled up at bedtime, the girl tells Daddy she doesn’t ever want to leave home and get married so she can always be with him, and he tells her that no matter where she goes they will always have a special friendship (fade to black).  The next scene shows Robin Williams driving a car, a frown on his face as he angrily talks to his daughter, now 15, who sits behind him, chewing gum, Ipod earplugs in her ears.  She’s mad at him and calls him a name (was it Dork? Loser?) because they’re driving to pick up her friend and he doesn’t know where the friend lives.  Robin Williams looks like he’s going to cry.  “Dad, she just gave you the finger!” pipes up her younger brother, also in the back seat.

By the end of the movie (and their family road trip in an RV), the daughter appears to have changed her attitude about Dad.  Hmmm… even though we don’t rent an RV (yep, that’s my aravan doing all that driving), I do think my own status was raised slightly in Allison’s eyes during this trip because we visited my college alma mater on the way home and ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe near campus, and since it appeared to be freshman check-in day, Allison got to do major people-watching.  We walked and drove around campus and the girls asked me lots of questions.  Allison said it was the highlight of her trip. 

Andy, unfortunately, didn’t fare as well.  Turns out he’d turned off the AC on the second floor of our house just before we’d left town, so teen daughter did not appreciate the sweltering 93 degrees that welcomed her tired body when we drooped into our bedrooms last night at 1 a.m. 

Ah, family road trips…gotta love ’em!

Thanksgiving in July

“It’s a free country!” How many parents have heard this line at least once from a child who is trying to justify bad behavior? How many of you have used this line on your own parents, or heard a sibling that has? And usually it’s followed by, “So I can do whatever I want!” I’ll bet the founding fathers had no idea their groundbreaking document would be someday used and misused by sassy kids and teens from sea to shining sea, to defiantly explain away everything from cursing to coming home late to not doing homework, usually as a desperate, last resort explanation when every other explanation hasn’t worked.  And we parents get the opportunity to give a quick history lesson:
“Nice try, but there are a lot of things you’re not “free” to do in this country, and disobeying your parents is one of them.”  (Gee, Schoolhouse Rock, put that to music…)
 “Huh?”
“You’re not free to go kill someone, or burn down a building, OR disobey your parents.”  (And if you really wanted to show them, some states have such strict parent-child laws on the books, they’d be sorry they even brought it up!)

So how can we teach kids about the real freedoms we celebrate on the 4th? As usual, I was thinking about “building a better holiday” this past weekend.  We usually go to a neighborhood 4th of July parade and watch fireworks at a local park in the evening.  Good American fun, but does “the point” really sink in? Does anyone, except maybe the war veterans who ride in the parade in vintage convertibles, feel grateful for what it means to be a free country?

Sometimes I think showing kids a movie like, “Not Without My Daughter”, about an American woman’s struggle to get her child (and herself) out of Iran, would be good. I sure felt grateful to be living in a free country after watching that true story.  Maybe something lighter like “The Sound of Music” might illustrate the point for younger kids…

In a recent article printed in the Dallas Morning News’ Travel section, Ellen Creager of The Detroit Free Press writes that a great way to appreciate American freedom is to travel, especially to the National Parks.  How great to drive into one of them and tell your kids, “You own this.” But she also says just traveling anywhere can do the trick.  “Grab a suitcase, get in your car and drive,” she writes.  “Stop for lunch in a small town.  See a museum.  See a lake.  See a mountain.  Just drive over to the next city.  Why? To count your blessings.  We have a vast country.  A safe country.  A free country.  A beautiful country.  A country where you don’t need permission to go someplace.”

Wow.  For once, I think I’m celebrating a holiday in just the right way.  This year, once the parade was over, my sister-in-law, Marti, and I took our two 11-year-olds and headed to the Texas lake and hill country north of Austin for two days of R and R.  (My teenager is switching bedrooms with her younger sister this summer, and this is the weekend she and my husband are painting the walls of her new digs.  That was one fireworks show I did not want to see—perfect time to head for the hills, eh? )  Last night we sat in rocking chairs on the back porch of our cabin , perched high above beautiful Lake Buchanan, and watched hawks soar over the water and the mesquite and live oak trees at sunset.  As soon as the sun went down, fireworks shows began popping near and far, joining an already busy chorus of cicadas and tree frogs. An hour and a half later, I’d counted over 30 shows and some were still going in the distance.  We all agreed it was one of the coolest things we’d ever seen.  And when we looked up, the kids got another beautiful show—stars, something we hardly ever get to experience anymore in the big city.

As my nephew Ted screamed out last night to anyone that would listen, “Happy Fourth of July!”