Herald Journal Columns
July 11, 2005, Herald Journal

Fireworks, food, and family fun


Many people took to the roads in their vehicles or campers last week to go camping, to their cabins, or on a get-away for a Fourth of July mini vacation.

It’s a fun time of the year when families and friends get together to share camaraderie, enjoy the outdoors, participate in outdoor recreational activities, such as swimming, boating, fishing, a game of softball, badminton, horseshoes or some other leisure activity; and enjoy some type of fireworks display, either large displays shown over a community’s lake or some smaller fireworks that they purchase themselves.

It’s all about sharing our freedoms that we, as Americans, have, including the freedom to have some family fun!

My family traveled to Baylor Park in Carver County on Independence Day for our annual Fourth of July mini Schultz family reunion. It’s an event my family and I look forward to all year – to enjoy some great outdoor fun, food, and family time.

We’ve been having this mini family reunion for a long time, ever since I was a little girl, and the location has usually been Baylor Park.

For many of the Independence Day celebrations, while my dad was still living, a family game of softball was the highlight of our activities for the day. The family was large enough that we could have two teams and almost everyone played, including the very young ones.

Those who didn’t play were at the sidelines cheering, laughing, and enjoying the entertainment our family game of softball had to offer.

And fun and entertaining it was. I recall my nephews, including the Herald Journal sports editor Aaron, who were young at the time, running the wrong way around the bases (well, the wrong way according to the adults), starting at third base instead of first. (I believe Aaron runs the “right” direction now, after he hits the ball.) That was all part of the fun and laughs.

My dad, Grandpa Walter, was always the pitcher in our family game. He had large hands and could wrap his whole hand around the ball; he could throw a mean curve ball.

He was a pitcher in his day and taught me how to pitch as well, thus I was a softball pitcher, too. Well, I believe almost everyone in our family who played ball was a baseball or softball pitcher, with my dad showing us the way.

Even though we haven’t had the family softball game for a long time, we enjoy many other activities together, and Baylor Park is a great place to go to enjoy those activities.

We usually have some tennis games between various family members, walk through the trails and campgrounds in search of snails and turtles – taking a pit stop to play at the playground, swim and play with the water-play structure, make castles in the sand, fish from the pier, and eat a lot of great picnic food, including shish-kabobs and patriotic cupcakes, while sharing lots of great family memories and laughs.

The rest of the holiday weekend this year, my family and I stayed home and had some festive fun.

We traveled to faithful Dueber’s Department Store to purchase some craft supplies to create some patriotic works of art. We bought red, white, and blue beads to make jewelry, and craft foam and curly shoestrings to make homemade visors. (I’ll share how to make the visors below.)

Sitting on the deck on a beautiful day, my children and their cousins made patriotic necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and visors while listening to patriotic music, such as “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land.” It was fun to listen to them singing, while busy creating their works of art.

Thirsty putting their Picasso minds and hands to work, and decked out in their Americana accessories, the kids and I made our own lemonade by squeezing lemons and adding some spearmint leaves from my container herb garden.

The evening culminated with a bonfire, ‘smores, a game of “daddy monster,” which is the daddy chasing the kids around (sometimes it’s “mommy monster,” chasing the kids around, too), and the observing and lighting of some legal fireworks.

For our Fourth of July celebration, my children and I baked cupcakes in red, white, and blue paper cupcake liners and decorated them with none other than red, white, and blue frosting, topping each cupcake off with an American flag pick. (The cupcake liners and picks we also bought at Dueber’s.)

We also made kabobs for grilling, using steak pieces, pineapple, peppers, onions, and mushrooms, while my husband and I enjoyed a discussion with our children about why we have Independence Day.

So, even though we stayed home for much of the holiday weekend, we had some great fun, engaging in some simple activities, but enjoying what the Fourth of July is all about – fun, family, relaxation, memories, and celebrating independence and America!

I hope you were all able to do this, too!

Handcrafted visors

The visor craft idea was inspired from Family Fun magazine, July/August, 2005.

Help your child draw a visor shape (the magazine suggested about nine and one-half inches from temple to temple, with a three and three-fourths-inch wide brim) onto a piece of craft foam and cut it out. (We actually used the template that we downloaded from the magazine’s website, www.familyfun.com/maazine.)

Use a scissors or a craft knife to cut a small X at each temple, then your children can decorate the visors with precut stick-on craft foam shapes, or cut their own from sticky-back craft foam. My children cut their own from various colors of craft foam and glued the shapes on. They also used stickers to decorate their visors.

Finally, pull the first few loops of a curly shoelace through the two X’s, adjust it to fit your child’s head, and they’ve got a wonderful visor! My kids made patriotic visors and cut out letters to spell USA, adding stars to decorate their visors.

It’s an easy, fun, inexpensive, and wearable project!