I have just returned from a glorious family vacation through Oregon and I can’t wait to tell you about it and subject you to about a trillion photos, but first a quick word from our sponsor. All of the blogger videos are now live on Happy Family‘s Stories from the Bright Side page, and if you click that “Share & Win!” tab you’ll see that they’re running a giveaway of $20K towards college just for submitting your own food story or video. I’m guessing most parents have about a thousand funny-in-retrospect memories of trying to get a kid to eat something, so if you have a minute, be sure to send yours in for a chance at the cash prize.

Last week we went to a Fourth of July parade in the neighboring town of Creswell. As we slow-roasted on the hot sidewalk waiting for things to get started, a lady with a poodle walked by. She had somehow dyed the dog’s curly fur to resemble a flag: it had blue hindquarters, a red torso and head, and its natural white coloring was left haphazardly throughout. On the scale of extreme tackiness that poor dog was off the charts — like something you’d buy in the discount bins at Walmart. God, who DOES that, I thought to myself with an internal eye roll. The two of them bustled by, the woman lugging a cooler and the dog’s nails scritch-scritch-scritching on the pavement, then I felt a small hand on my leg.

American dog,” Dylan breathed. His face was a wide-open flower of pure wonder.

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