Months ago, my cousin Jen planned to visit us at our Wisconsin lake cabin for the Columbus Day holiday weekend. Anytime my Nebraska family and friends come to visit is a special treat, and Jen and I get along so well that I was really looking forward to spending time with their family of four.
Of course, as is always the way with these things, our contractor was running behind schedule on the cabin remodel and said he wouldn't be finished by the weekend. Gah. I warned Jen things wouldn't be as perfect as we'd hoped to have them for their visit, but she assured me she and her husband Zach wouldn't mind a little mess. Fortunately, the cabin was livable for the weekend and only missing a few pieces of trim on the walls, handles on several of the doors and a railing on the staircase. Everyone would've survive without a lock on the bathroom door, but an unfinished staircase was kind of a big deal when four kids under the age of four were involved. Fortunately, our contractor built a temporary staircase railing to make it safe for us to use in the interim. I also knew from viewing the previous weekend that the entire cabin was covered in a layer of sheet rock and sawdust, so I hired a cleaning crew to get a jump-start clean up bright and early Friday morning. The lady called me Friday and said, "are you sure you want us to clean when the construction isn't finished? Doesn't this seem counter-productive?" Maybe. But, there was no way I would've been able to clean the entire cabin, make beds and put everything away with two kids underfoot. It took the cleaners 11 man-hours to clean, so I'm glad I hired help!
After Andi and I arrived at the cabin Friday afternoon, we moved furniture, assembled bedrooms and pulled some things out of storage. Shortly afterwards Jen, Zach and their daughters Lauren and Reese arrived. It was Lauren's 4th birthday that day, so we ordered pizza and I bought some cupcakes and a Happy Birthday banner to make the evening festive for her. Tory was so excited to celebrate Lauren's birthday at the cabin that she told everyone we encountered the week prior (from her teachers at school to the cashiers at Target!) we'd be celebrating Lauren's special day at the cabin. Hopefully Lauren felt the birthday love! We sang "happy birthday" at our new dining room table and it was perfect low-key evening.
Andi had a work event in the Twin Cities Saturday, so he left early in the morning to make a quick appearance there. He left before sunrise and sometime around 7:00 a.m. the cabin's land line telephone rang. I scrambled to locate the phone in my sleepy state as most of our accessories were in unusual places from the remodel. I answered the telephone and Andi was on the other end. He'd hit a deer on the highway about half-way between the cabin and the Twin Cities. Luckily, he was okay but my SUV was a different story. Apparently, the deer appeared out of nowhere and Andi hit it going at full highway speed. He happened to glance in his rear view mirror as it was all happening and saw a semi locking up its brakes behind him, so he swerved and landed the vehicle in the ditch. Thankfully (thankfully! thankfully! thankfully!), Andi wasn't hurt. As shaken as I was about the whole ordeal, I cannot imagine how Andi felt. He spent the morning securing a tow truck and a rental car, and finally made it back to the cabin around Noon having never actually made it to the work event. In three weeks and $10k later, my SUV will be repaired. Hooray for insurance!
We'd planned to visit the pumpkin patch that afternoon so after Andi returned to the cabin and the kids awoke from their naps, we journeyed out in my new (rental car) minivan to Nature's Select Orchard. This is my favorite apple orchard / pumpkin patch because the owners are so friendly and welcoming. This is the fourth year we've visited here and we always have the best time.
The weather was absolutely beautiful Saturday afternoon with the sun shining down on us and a crisp fall breeze in the air. We visited the orchard just a few hours before closing time so there were hardly any other people there. We took our time feeding the goats, took a hay rack ride around the farm, visited the pumpkin patch to select our pumpkins and walked through a little maze of corn. In such a picturesque setting, it's impossible not to have a million gorgeous photos to share.
We hung around the cabin Saturday evening. Andi and I made a casserole, fresh squash from the orchard and a salad for dinner. Then, we all sat outside by the bonfire and enjoyed S'mores for dessert. Tory loves bonfires almost as much as she loves chocolate and marshmallows, so she was in seventh heaven. I think Lauren was equally enamored.
Sunday morning, Andi woke up early and made us all eggs and hash potatoes for breakfast. (Love how he takes over the cooking on the weekends using the meal plan and less-than-complete supply of groceries I've procured!) Then, Zach and Andi headed off to Coyland Creek Game Farm in Siren, WI for a morning of pheasant hunting. Meanwhile, Jen and I took the kids for a nature walk near the cabin and they collected rocks, sticks and leaves on the trails. Jen had the great idea to bring along plastic sacks so we didn't have to carry the kids' treasures in our coat pockets. Lauren's sack must've weighed 10 lbs. by the end, so maybe this wasn't Jen's first nature collection rodeo!
Reese is seven months older than Aden; hard to believe my baby boy will be doing this (walking!) in a few short months.
The kids said they needed to rest their legs after our long walk. It's rough being one, three and four-years-old, isn't it?
After the boys returned from their hunting adventure, we put the kids to sleep for nap time and lounged around the cabin for most of the afternoon. The weather was too gorgeous not to get outdoors and enjoy it, so after everyone woke up we went for a Ranger truck ride around the cabin and then raked up a big pile of leaves in the backyard to let Lauren and Tory run through.
The squeals of laughter as the girls ran down hill and jumped into the pile of leaves was priceless. Tory has told me repeatedly since Sunday that jumping in the leaves was her favorite moment of the weekend.
Here ... they ... go!
These two cousins got along wonderfully all weekend!
Our fun weekend came to an end Monday morning. Jen and Zach set off for a long drive back to Nebraska, and Andi and I packed up the kids and headed back to the Twin Cities. I'm sure the beautiful reds, oranges and yellows of fall will have changed by the time we return to the lake cabin in two week's time, so I'm so happy we were able to enjoy this near perfect weekend at the lake with family.