Layla’s first Parenteau 4th of July Bash

I think it is safe to say that the fireworks display was not my granddaughter’s favorite part of the annual Parenteau 4th of July Bash. At six months old, the noise proved to be bit too much after two long days of travel, new people and strange environment, especially with two new teeth trying to poke their way through her tender little gums.

Part of it is my fault. Layla was sleeping soundly in my niece’s bedroom when I pulled her out of her travel crib, changed her clothes and carried her outside. She was slightly amazed at being outside in the dark, but unhappy with me for waking her up. Mosquitoes buzzed around us as we settled into a chair next to Grandpa and waited for the show.

The first big BOOM shook the night, she stiffened like a little Layla-shaped board and sucked in her breath. As a beautiful display lit the night, she let out a mighty roar and tried to climb into my skin. I ended up getting up and turning away from the noise, so she could still see the sky and the lights. She settled down and quit wailing, but was giving me some very accusatory looks during the whole thing. Her little lashes were wet, her chin quivered and she occasionally buried her face in my neck, but always ended up looking back up at the sky.

Other than that and the teething issue, I think she had a great time. The Parenteau Bash is a family tradition that has grown to encompass plenty of friends. It goes back a long ways, and has shifted locations several times. My brother Chris and his wife Lara are the current hosts, and they throw one heck of a party. It is a family affair, though, and requires participation from a lot of people. We deep fry turkeys the night before, family friend Dave Faymoville cooks up pork loins each year, and lots of people bring food to share.

This year, the party also included a graduation celebration for my niece Kiki, who earned herself a free ride at Southern Utah University with her amazing gymnastic talents. To cap things off, she and my son Matt won this year’s horseshoe tournament, going head to head with last year’s champs for the third year in a row, but finally coming out on top. It was a close thing, with them down by a few points when my brother (Kiki’s dad) threw a ringer that would have won the game. Kiki threw a ringer that topped his, and brought her and Matt to victory. That means the traveling trophy (yes, there’s a trophy) will spend half the year in South Dakota with Matt, and half the year in Utah with Kiki before heading back for next year’s tourney. My daughter Maggie was so pleased, she announced she is getting married under the darned thing.

Layla had a great time being adored by lots of people, and my great-niece Jordy, who is almost 4 years old, announced that the two of them were sisters and best friends. Layla got to ride a golf cart, tasted all sorts of things her parents probably shouldn’t know about, rolled around on the grass and smiled at everyone. She even, with help from my niece Megan, got to take a swing at the piñata. The sight of my son Nick, all gothic and sporting a Mohawk, carrying a patriotic-dressed chubby baby isn’t one I’ll forget soon.

Watching my brothers, their kids, my awesome sisters-in-law and so many friends work to make such a great party was super. I really love my loud, crazy, quirky family.