This felt like my first real fourth of July celebration. Certainly, we had the little bbq in Belgium three days before we got married. Then the next year I was pregnant and the year after too exhausted and with a too small child to do anything.
This year was different. The fourth of July fell in the middle of a big family vacation. Bill and I went to Saint Louis, to his parents and my mother came as well. Of course there was the joy of the anouncement of our new baby in the making. But a family vacation with the grandparents has the inestimable advantage of build in baby sitters and no housework. That means that there is time for naps. And outside of naptimes, there are fun things to do, like going to the zoo or the petting zoo (pictures to come, I promise).
This whole kind of 'this is family as it is supposed to be' feeling extended to the fourth of july. The extended family of my husband on both sides came over from around town or from other states. There were children, from almost teenagers to a seven month old baby. And we could see what Joseph's reaction was. He loved all the children, especially Tyler. He was fascinated with the baby but a few precautions needed to be taken. While he really wanted to play with the baby he is a bit rambunctuous to say the least. And he doesn't get yet that pushing your hand into someone's face is scary, and that poking your finger directly towards a baby's eyes is not yet apreciated. Still, the learning curve was fast and day two he absolutely got peals of laughter when he decided to repeatedly pull up baby Mia's dress to play with her belly button. She loved it. The grown ups were laughing till they had tears in their eyes. And mommy is going to have another talk about modesty and gentleman like behaviour with my little southern charmer.
We had barbecued food (even though it was barbecued earlier and then kept warm because we weren't sure if we could stay outside with rain in the forecast) we had potato salad, salads and fruit and brownies and flag cake and crumbles. And even some fireworks in the yard.
Strangely enough though, it were not the fireworks that were the biggest fire hazard. It was a small boy of about twenty one months old. Hmmm.. now who could that be?
Joseph has been making himself quite at home here at "Mimi". And she wisely child proofed most of the house: crystal removed from reachable surfaces, cupboards closed with elastic bands, and a few cupboards which contained mainly tupperware for his own enjoyment. Of course he still found some misschief to get into: like getting into the warming drawer, opening the wine cabinet because the light goes on if you open the door or putting tupperware lids in the oven. We joked about that. "Better check the oven next time you bake". Little did we know...
Today the whole family gathered in the afternoon, with all the insanity and inside jokes that belong to it. Aparently it is a family joke that my mother in law can't cook. She does fine in my eyes but apparently never really enjoyed it or got great variety or something. I am certain there are family stories there that I will hear more and more of over the years. This year we added one of our own. We were all outside and Becky (my lovely mother in law) was about to say we were almost ready to eat when she remembered something "Oh no, I forgot to put my beans in the oven". Lots of laughter as she rushed to the kitchen to put said beans in the oven. Ofter the next fifteen or so minutes many of the women drifted towards the kitchen as often happens in family gatherings in all cultures it seems. We were joking, talking about the food, about who cooks what on a regular basis and jokes were made about my mother in law not cooking. She joked herself about when they renovated the kitchen and she spoke with the designer and said "Right, so we don't need a stove".. the time they had two microwaves in the kitchen... I was leaning on the island, enjoying the banter and looking idly at the stove. There seemed to be smoke coming out of it..
For a moment I hesitated. Maybe it was just some hot air swirling in the kitchen light? It looked like smoke. "Ehm.. Becky... I think there is smoke coming out of the oven ". While she whirled around, general laughter ensued and everybody just knew this was a story in the making. Thinking mostly that she overfilled the beans and some had spilled into the oven joked: "hope there are no lids in there".
The oven door was thrown open. And visible for everywhere in the bottom, under the lowest oven rack: three blue plastic tupperware lids, spreading out and melting. A few seconds after the oven was opened, one caught fire.
Everybody jumped into action. The oven was put off immediately. The beans taken out. The racks removed. With thongs the lids were taken out. We were laughing and cleaning at the same time. With baking soda and paper towels most of the mess could be cleaned. The beans were microwaved. But before that oven can be used again, a technician will need to come, since some of the molten plastic may have spilled into the vents of the convector oven.
A new story was added to the family repertoire, the culprit unaware really of what he had caused, but certainly this is one of those stories that will follow him throughout the teenage years and into adulthood when one day he brings his own wife to the fourth of july celebration: "and then there was the time when Joseph put the lids in the oven"