The only bump in our trip happened Wednesday night during our trek up to the cabin. There's was some cabin traffic out of the city, as to be expected the night before a holiday, so we stopped at Applebee's for dinner in one of the Northern Twin Cities suburbs. As everyone knows, Andi despises chain restaurants, but it was the only "real food" option amongst fast food restaurants. I voted to eat dinner inside vs. Andi's choice of Carside To Go because I was not interested in feeding Tory Applebees in the backseat of the car. The meal service was horrible, our food was cold, Tory was very ornery in the restaurant (at one point, the manager paid a visit to our table to "tease" her about being so loud); overall, a bad experience. We just wanted to get to the cabin and once we arrived a few hours later, all was well for the rest of our week together.
Andi, Tory and I woke up at the cabin on Thursday, July 4th, ready for an awesome holiday. Our friends Nick and Julie, and their boys Joel and Alex, arrived around 10:00am. We quickly changed into our swimming suits and headed outside. The boys recently celebrated their birthdays and received a Gushing Geyser Water Slide, so our friends brought it up to the cabin to use for the weekend. All the kids loved it and never seemed phased by the ice cold water pumping into it from the yard hose. Tory, Alex and Joel bopped between the water slide and swimming in the lake for the rest of the afternoon.
Fourth of July evening, we drove about 20 minutes to the Country Lane Farmer's Market in Barron, Wisconsin. We've heard great things about this market from the cabin neighbors, but it only takes place on Thursday afternoons and we're rarely at the cabin mid-week to go. Situated in the middle of farm fields - literally in the middle of nowhere - was a giant farmer's market with craft vendors, a homemade ice cream stand, various concessions and a bulk food market. The stands will be bursting with fresh produce after a few more weeks of growing around here. It was definitely a neat place to stop. We ate homemade ice cream, freshly popped kettle corn and strolled from stand to stand checking out their merchandise.
|My girlie on Fourth of July|
|In LOVE with this photo of Tory at the lake|
We planned to watch the big Fourth of July Spectacular in Cumberland, WI at dusk. The show touts being the biggest of its kind in the area and we thought it might be a nice change of pace this year vs. putting on our own show at the cabin. The little town of Cumberland and its park were PACKED with people. We found a parking spot amongst the spectators who'd been camping out for hours, loaded up the kids, blankets and snacks and searched for a spot in the grass to watch the big fireworks show. Unfortunately, the only place left was directly behind the fireworks launch site. Tory's not a big fan of loud noises to begin with and I knew we'd be pushing way past bedtime (aka: meltdown time) when fireworks started around 9:30pm, so I convinced Andi we should pack up our things and head back to the cabin. Tory insisted I be the one to carry her all the way back to the car and by the time we got there, I was having major preggo belly cramps on my lower right side. We put the kids to bed shortly after arriving back at the cabin and then spent the rest of the evening by the bonfire in our backyard. I was really glad to be home. My belly was aching big time, to the point where I was almost nervous something was wrong. In all honesty, I don't love fireworks on the Fourth of July anyway, so I wasn't all that bummed to miss the big show in Cumberland.
|Loading up kids and bags - never an easy process|
|Neighborhood fireworks on the lake|
On Friday morning, Andi and Nick woke up early for a neighborhood tree cutting party. Our cabin road had become too overgrown with foliage and the township warned firetrucks might have a difficult time getting through in the case of emergency. So, owners from various cabins around the lake came with bobcats, tractors and chainsaws to trim the excess trees and branches along the road. While the boys were off doing man-things, Julie and I were on kid duty. Tory and the boys played in the lake and had a water balloon fight in the yard. Julie is so creative in coming up with fun things for her boys to do. Later that afternoon, Andi and Nick took Joel fishing on the pontoon. Tory and Alex both took naps and Julie and I lounged in the lake. It was the perfect summer day.
|Snacks on the beach|
|Alex and Tory|
|Joel jumping off the pontoon during the boys' fishing outing|
|Tory took awesome naps every day at the cabin, so you better believe I did this every afternoon|
Later, we took the kids to the Turtle Lake County Fair. Andi and I took Tory last year and had a blast, so were excited to come back again. It's the perfect size fair for little kids with all the basic rides and carnival food. At the ripe old age of one year, my dare-devil Tory Girl loved the rides. She and Andi rode the carousel cars, the merry-go-round, went down the Super Slide three times and rode the Ferris wheel. I was a little surprised there was no minimum age limits for children on any of the rides so long as they were accompanied by an adult. In hindsight, I question if the Carney workers really had my child's safety at heart, you know? I suppose Andi was holding onto her during all the rides and it's not like we put her on a big roller coaster. Brightest parenting move? I'm not sure, but Tory had a blast nonetheless. She loved the Super Slide and kept saying and signing "more, more" each time they finished a turn. Tory wasn't a big fan of the Ferris wheel or the merry-go-round carousel, although she never cried. She and Andi also played the "duck pond" game and the "fishing" game and Tory chose three balls and a princess wand as her prizes which I then carried around in my arms for the remainder of the time at the fair.
|Reluctantly riding on Daddy's shoulders when she really wanted me to carry her|
|Fishing for prizes|
|Loved this car carousel ride|
|Super Slide - Tory and Andi rode this three times!|
After the rides and games, we walked over to the Turtle Lake park and Tory, Joel and Alex played on the playground equipment. As much money as we all spent on food and games at the fair, the kids seemed to have the most fun at the park. Go figure. Alex was cracking us up as he introduced himself to every single person at the park. "Hi, I'm Alex! I'm three! I like the color orange!" Quite the social butterfly, that one.
Then, as if we needed even more Friday night excitement, we hired two cabin neighbor girls to babysit the kids while Andi, Nick, Julie and I went out for a nice dinner at Bistro 63 in Barronett, WI. Bistro never disappoints; we had great service and our food was delicious, as always. Andi ordered the scallops and I had the Seared Gnocchi. Best of all, it was great to have a few kid-free hours to relax and enjoy the company of our friends.
We woke up Saturday morning and decided to take the kids to the Crystal Lake Strawberry Patch. Andi and I took Tory strawberry picking for the first time last year and I've been itching to go back ever since. It was the perfect day for picking berries. I learned my lesson last year and dressed Tory and I in clothes she could ruin with her grubby strawberry-stained hands. We all had a blast at the strawberry patch this year, especially Tory. She ate more strawberries than she put in her bucket. Later in the day when Andi was washing and chopping our fresh berries, he found lots of half-eaten ones courtesy of Little Miss Bean.
Nick, Alex, Julie, Joel, Tory, Andi and I
No trip near the Cheese Factory can be resisted, so we stopped for fresh cheese and ice cream on our way home from the strawberry patch. Then we all came back to the cabin and played a rousing game of kickball in the yard. (Okay, Andi and I watched while Nick, Julie and the kids played. Someone had to be the spectators, right?).
|Love this photo of Tory - she looks like a storybook character with lots of attitude|
|Tory loved Alex ... but I'm not sure the same could be said the other way around|
Nick, Julie and the boys left for home shortly afterwards so Andi, Tory and I lounged at our beach for the remainder of the day. We took a quiet boat ride around the lake, put Tory to bed early (well, actually at her regular bedtime, since she'd been staying up later with all the Fourth of July activities) and walked to the next-door cabin neighbors for another fireworks celebration in their yard on Saturday night (within baby monitor reach, obviously).
|Learning to drive the pontoon (er, push the dashboard buttons) at an early age|
|More lake fireworks|
Early Sunday, Andi's parents came up for visit. We took the pontoon to the "beach! beach!" as Tory requested, lounged on floaties and played in the sand. The weather was hot and sunny on Sunday; a perfect summer day at the cabin.
|Grandpa and Tory playing at the beach|
|Naked (diaper) baby on a boat!|
We hung around the cabin the entire day and made yummy caprese chicken (seriously craving this since I made it a few weeks ago), grilled veggies and crusty bread for dinner. After Tory went to bed, Andi, his parents and I sat on the deck and talked for hours. We were just about as relaxed as one can be on a mid-summer's night. It was awesome.
Monday was our last day at the cabin and it was just Andi, Tory and I. Andi commented how we should wrap up every big Fourth of July celebration with one last day to relax, just us. The three of us took multiple pontoon rides around the lake, ate homemade strawberry Popsicles and played at our beach. Tory took a two hour nap in the afternoon and Andi and I did some more lake lounging. Pretty tough life we led ...
|First time I turned my computer on in six days .. and it was lakeside. Not too shabby.|
After Tory's nap, we took an afternoon adventure to nearby Balsam Lake for ice cream. Then, we stopped by Staples Lake Bar and Grill for take-out pizza and enjoyed our last night's dinner on the boat.
Tuesday morning when we left the cabin it was pouring rain - the perfect day to pack up and head back home. I can't remember a more perfect Fourth of July celebration than the last week with my two loves and our family and friends. We are so fortunate to have the lake cabin as a paradise retreat. It's a great place for our family to make memories and I foresee many more wonderful times there for years to come.