Pin the Tail on the Donkey Goes Patriotic

I told you yesterday I’d share the details on our “Pin the Star on the Flag” game…

First, let me apologize. Our flag was wrinkled from being in storage and I simply did not have time to iron it. Next year I promise I’ll do better.

Which leads me to my next point: this flag has been around for several years now. I had purchased the supplies when Gideon was just a little thing, with plans to make this game for him and his cousins to enjoy. But I’m a procrastinator sometimes, and as that 2008 Independence Day drew near, my flag was still just a bag of felt in a Hobby Lobby bag.

That’s where our amazing friend, Yamei, stepped in.

As we sat around my Mom’s table and chatted and drank coffee, Yamei (a gifted seamstress) transformed my supplies into a giant American flag, one that has lasted for many years and continues to delight the children in my life.

This year was our best yet. Since we didn’t get the chance to actually play this game last year, Gideon had no memory of it, and was so taken by its novelty and fun.

So here’s my wrinkled flag: 

This is completely made of felt fabric, by the way. The stars were traced onto the fabric using a cookie cutter, and once cut, we added a velcro backing to it. Super easy. Super cheap. Super fun.

We’ll let Gideon demonstrate our game, although I’m sure you all know how to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey!

He was WAY off after being spun around and around and around, and eventually tried to pin a star on his Papa – he got so tickled when he realized how far he was from the flag, and his laughter and unbridled joy just made my day…

Perhaps next year you can make your own Pin the Star on the Flag game!

Or just buy the stuff and have Yamei over for coffee…

A Patriotic Family Breakfast

At the Shop Sweet Lulu Memorial Day sale, My Mom and I purchased all these great decorations for a patriotic Young at Heart brunch and had them hiding in my house for a month…

but when the brunch had to be unexpectedly cancelled on Monday and we couldn’t find a reschedule date that was anywhere close to Independence Day, I decided – at the very last minute – to just host it, anyway.

The guests? Me, Mr. Gore and our 3 ungrateful and too-young-to-remember-all-the-things-I’m-doing-for-them children.

I was so determined, I didn’t even have time to be unsure about this hair-brained scheme.

But I’m so glad, for it was lovely

There was something very fulfilling about waking up and getting us all dressed (to match, of course!), and having my family walk in to a completely finished breakfast. I felt a bit like my Mom, scurrying around with real clothes and make-up on while everyone else ate, filling milk glasses here, cleaning spills there, heating up my coffee about 25 times…

I would love to start doing this more often – and maybe, with practice, we could actually sit down to eat before 10:00 a.m.

Take a look…

The berries I didn’t use up found a nice, cozy spot on the table…

I’m not usually a fan of paper products, but this banner from Shop Sweet Lulu was so cute, and sort of fun to put together. And it was on sale!

our little patriotic spread. Oh, how I wish I could go back and move that tall cake stand over to the right a bit, and then move the silverware caddy closer to it. But I had a hungry family waiting upstairs rather impatiently. They can only stand so much food styling before they starve to death…

The cupcake liners came in a patriotic assortment from Shop Sweet Lulu. The toothpicks are vintage Pottery Barn (they’ve been in my 4th of July box FOREVER just waiting to be useful). And the blueberry muffin recipe came from my new favorite baker, Cheryl Day. I’ll be reviewing her amazing cookbook in a couple of weeks, Lord willing…

Gideon especially liked the blue cupcake wrapper with the silver star topper. I like it, too…reminds me of Glenda the Good Witch meets Dorothy…

Red (ish), white, and blue (ish) milk for my little ones! Betsie’s, of course, was of the whole variety, and dye-free. (for now…)

These are my trusty Martinelli apple juice bottles again – how I love them! I just added a few drops of food coloring, shook it up, voila! Patriotic milk.

and a little yogurt parfait with blueberries and strawberries for each of us. FYI, our favorite yogurt is Great Value Vanilla – we eat about 3 huge tubs a week. Its the best.

and a little basket of blueberries for my Betsie Fair. Everytime I give her a handful of blueberries (whether they’re in a cute basket or not), she says “Ohhhhh…”

Mrs. Gore loves Independence Day almost as much as she loves birthdays! 

I think Miss Sunday is a fan, too!

And my beloved Gideon, with his…interesting…haircut, is becoming all kinds of patriotic. Oh, and about the polo shirt buttoned all the way to his neck…that’s all him. We beg him to unbutton it. He’s not budging.

Betsie dug in first…

and was a huge fan of her glass of ice cold milk!

After breakfast we took a moment to pose for some pictures while the day was still fresh. The little girls are obviously enjoying themselves…

and here is a picture of my favorite kids, each one a firecracker, for sure. Especially that one on the left there…

Baby Betsie goes for a ride!

Do our children have any idea how blessed they are to be born in this great land? I’m so happy my babies are free and have such happy lives. Who wouldn’t love to sit on an antique tricycle in patriotic clothing?!

Coming back inside, we played our “Pin the Star on the Flag” game – I’ll share more on that tomorrow – and then I gave the kids a little 4th of July gift…

containing their very first bottle of Coca-Cola (click here), a box of Cracker Jacks to enjoy at the fireworks show, a cute little spinny-top from Cracker Barrel, a flag pencil, and a United States flag (both leftover from last year’s “gift”).

I will be putting the nonperishables directly back in the attic for next year’s “gift”. Recycling holiday gifts is my favorite trick for thriftily parenting little ones.

They loved their little silver bucket (also from last year) of goodies!

and was it ever hard to save those Cracker Jacks until the end of the day!

When our “brunch” was over, we loaded up half of our belongings and spent the rest of the day at Grandmother’s house and at the local fireworks show, squeezing 4th of July fun into nearly every minute of the day.

What’s that, you say? You want to see those pictures, too?



Coming up tomorrow…Pin the Star on the Flag!

A Fourth of July Craving


We were pulling into a parking spot at Chick-fil-a when our 5-year old son, Gideon, reverently breathed from the backseat…

“Papa…I’ve never been this close to a ‘Kuhmerican’ flag before…”

Looking out the window, my eyes landed on a flagpole next to the fast food restaurant that went up, up, up…

and at the very top gloriously waved a humongous American flag.

My heart melted a little.

It doesn’t take much, does it, to capture the wonder of a child? Their little eyes have a way of appreciating the simplest things in life, and I was reminded in the midst of our busy day to look up for a moment and gaze upon the beauty of our country’s flag waving majestically in the wind.

“Do you want to touch the flagpole?” Mr. Gore asked him.

“Yes!” Gideon exclaimed, and all thoughts of lunch were momentarily put aside as our family took a tiny field trip to the Chick-fil-a flagpole, to reach out and touch the metal that hoisted that very important statement of our freedom seemingly all the way up to the sky.

It was a brief and random moment in an otherwise hectic week, but it seated itself in my heart and fanned a longing that I’ve been having as Independence Day draws near…

I’ve got a craving for America.

Not the one that is found in the partisan arguments between liberals and conservatives on news channels…

Not the one that is written between the lines of the biased story shared in the newspaper…

Not the one that is found in the ruthless and hateful comments following every article and blog post on the internet…

The voices of the people on my television and computer screens have become so loud and so one-sided that I don’t know who to believe anymore. I have grown callous to their arguments and suspicious of their intentions ~ do they really care? Are the statistics they are sharing from an unbiased source? Do they truly want change or are they trying to make a buck or a name for themselves? What is their agenda, really?…

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. The spirit of my countrymen has become so bitter and jaded that few are really listening anymore; we have become like partisan robots who immediately agree with everything our political party says or we vehemently disagree with our opponents. On every. single. issue.

When we don’t get our way on those issues, we become fatalistic, as if America is dead. Freedom is dead. The “land of plenty” is a cursed wilderness…

But I’m looking around me, and even though I strongly disagree with many of the views our President stands for, and even though laws are being passed that cause my heart to painfully groan within me, and even though there are a thousand things I would change if I were given the power to do so, this is what I see…

I have good roads to drive on.

The mail is delivered to my mailbox every single day.

I am free to worship God as loudly and as consistently as I choose.

I have thousands of people I have never met who are training or are already trained to protect me – with their lives – if the need arises.

I have the right to school my children at home, and if I change my mind, there is a fully-equipped public school minutes from our house.

There are no bathrooms or water fountains in my town or my state or my country that can be used by only one race.

There are police officers, and firemen, and medical professionals a phone call away if I need help, day or night.

There is a grocery store down the street that contains more food choices in its tiny square footage than people have probably ever had in the history of the world.

I am a stay-at-home mom who is married to a pastor of a small church, and with our modest income, we still fit in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest people. Because we’re Americans.

And no matter what the media says about which way our country is going, I still have my vote and I still have my freedom of speech.

I’m sure a Christian from ancient Greece or a suffragette from the 1900’s or a black man from the enslaved South or a Jew from Hitler’s Germany would absolutely love to trade lives with me, even if just for one day.

And so here’s what I want this 4th of July…

some solidarity.

some patriotism.

some gratitude.

some respect for the office of President, no matter my political party.

some kindness.

I want to be heard without being labeled a close-minded conservative or a bigot or a nutcase Southern Baptist.

I want to hear the opinions of others with compassion and understanding, even if I know in my heart I will never agree with them.

I want to be well-informed and knowledgeable about our country’s state of affairs without being used as a pawn in a political game or to increase a show’s television ratings.

I want to use my most important tool of freedom, my vote, with pride and conviction.

I want to use my most important tool for lasting change, prayer, and faithfully beseech God on behalf of our nation and my fellow citizens.

I want to instruct the children in my sphere that change, in a democracy, always begins with you, not the folks in Washington D.C. or the people in high places.

I want to treat President Obama and his lovely wife the same way I wish my beloved G.W. and Laura would have been treated, disagreeing without disrespecting, keeping scorn and bitterness from my heart, and always remembering that presidents are not kings and will not sit in our White House forever.

I want to have faith and hope in a system of checks and balances and in a democracy that swings one way and then usually the other.

I want to enjoy hard work and stay busy enough that I stay out of trouble, and I want my neighbors and townspeople to do the same thing.

I want to worship the Creator as faithfully and boldly as I can while the opportunity is still mine.

I want to study the unadulterated history of my country and teach it to my children, learning from our mistakes and celebrating our God-aided triumphs.

I want to use my rights to speak up – in a kind and effective way – for those who have no voice, specifically those in the womb.

And mostly, I want to feel safe within my borders. Safe to speak, safe to live, safe to raise my children how I see fit, safe to worship, and safe to continue my personal pursuit of happiness.

And the funny thing is, when I tune out the voices on Fox News or CNN or in the comments sections of blogs and internet news stories or from the more out-of-touch celebrities on talk shows, I notice something: America, in my neck of the woods, is almost exactly what I’m looking for.

Of course there are things we must improve. There are freedoms and reforms we must continue to pursue like hounds. There might even be as much wrong as there is right…

But this 4th of July, I want to celebrate the good things, and thank God for this unprecedented chance to live in a free America, while begging Him for grace and guidance to use my freedoms and my blessings wisely and efficiently and, most importantly, generously.

I encourage you to unplug yourself from the talking heads this Independence Day and see with fresh eyes and a grateful heart what you’ve been given.

A beautiful homeland…

previously unheard of freedom and democracy…

a local community to support you…

hope for change…

and the most beautiful and breathtaking “Kuhmerican” flag that waves on nearly every corner, just for you to enjoy.

Happy Independence Day, from Mrs. Gore!

Mrs. Gore’s Fabulous Fourth of July

First of all, I am very aware that it is the last week of October.

Second of all, I am usually true to my word (unless I’m not). And a month or two ago, I seem to remember telling you I would thoroughly catalogue our annual 4th of July party, did I not? And so here I am, being true to my word, making Uncle Sam and our forefathers proud of my honesty and good citizenship…in the last week of October.

We had a rather thrown-together Fourth of July celebration this year, but despite the lack of long-term planning and decorating, it was just plumb ducky. Take a look!

Nieces Anna and Kate play at the piano. For all you know, they were playing Cohan’s “Over There”.

An impromptu “hat parade” featuring various forms of millinery styles and, of course, weaponry.

Saluting in front of our “Pin the star on the flag” game. More on that next year…

Would this photo (which was not posed, by the way) make General Patton proud? I hope so. I’d hate to make him upset.

I’m telling you, this kid is obsessed with the weapons and the guns and the aiming and the shooting.

Corn on the cob = America the Beautiful

See? Beautiful.

See? Beauti…handsome. But the corn IS beautiful!

Even our sweet tea wore patriotic hats.

I know that people are more important than food, but this (Paula Deen’s fresh cream tarts) is one of my greatest memories from this day.

Gideon liked them, too.

A watermelon party!

Baby Kate…

Rebekah Sunday…

Abigail Grace…

Gideon Michael…

A watermelon party, indeed.

Baby Betsie (wearing her “Baby Fretsie” expression) in her red, white and blue.

a 4th of July kiss between our Memorial Day girls

Watch out, Mr. Gore! There are poppers on the porch!

Ahhhh…Tis a beautiful thing to watch the children that we love grow up in the land of the free…

…and to know they will be protected by the brave…

…where our family has the freedom to worship and to pursue personal happiness…

…and to watch spectacular fireworks year after year. God bless America!

What sweet memories. What a beautiful holiday.

Happy 4th of July, everybody. In the last week of October.


All photographs taken by Amy Jackson, who also supplied the patriotic tattoos, the dark-haired beauties, and made the sweet tea and corn on the cob. As always, THANK YOU, dear friend and sister.