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This Fourth of July weekend was filled with BBQs, movies, games, s’mores, our first demolition derby, and of course, fireworks. Both Jeff and I have had the opportunity to travel internationally numerous times, and while we could each list thing after thing after thing of what we like better about those other countries, there really is nothing like home.

When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect. ~Adlai Stevenson

There is much to be said for the faults and failings of America (and I must say, I heartily agree with a lot of it), but while the cynics are casting their stones, I am amazed at the good I see. The innovators, the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the dreamers are all around us. And though their hard work and passion and vision aren’t as newsworthy as the latest scandal, their fight to realize the American dream quietly fosters that ingenuity and drive in those around them.

There is much to be angry and divided and worried and fed up about. There is much to be done, to change, to fix, and to create. This truly is the Land of Opportunity, and whatever we find ourselves in, we’ve created it. But one of my favorite parts of this great country is the hope and possibility for better. We only need begin to act on that hope, for change begins with us.

America is a nation with many flaws, but hopes so vast that only the cowardly would refuse to acknowledge them. ~James Michener

1.  Scheduled to open early next year, the New York Wheel will become the tallest ferris wheel in the world at 630 feet.
2. One of my favorite designers, Joshua Luke Smith, created this unique logo for Sparrow Pottery.
3. Planning a summer road trip? This heritage barn tour in Northern Washington showcases 55 historic registered barns.
4. Watch how the silent flight of an owl gives it an advantage over other birds of prey during a hunt.
5. Cy Twombly‘s work evokes incidents from Homer’s Iliad in his characteristic synthesis of words and images.
6. Because there is little daylight during winter, Scandinavians design large windows with no shades or drapery.
7. Gorgeous hot air balloon family photo shoot by photographer, Ashlee Raubach.
8. Fitting and emotional tribute to one of the most influential poets of our time, the late Maya Angelou.
9. If you love bunnies, you’d absolutely love a vacation to this Japanese island.