We left Thanksgiving with Andi's family that holiday afternoon and drove east to our Wisconsin lake cabin. With remodeling projects there this fall, various travel for Andi and I in the last few months and Aden's birthday weekend in the Twin Cities a few weekends ago, it felt like we hadn't been to the cabin in ages. And, everyone knows how well our family functions without the cabin in our lives ... [insert buggy-eyed emoji]. It's safe to say, Andi and I were itching to get to the lake as soon as possible to enjoy the long Thanksgiving weekend together.
Thursday evening we lounged around and early Friday morning, we pulled out the holiday decorations to "deck the halls" of the cabin. We don't have many Christmas decorations there since last year was the first year we truly owned the cabin as our own and the first time we frequently came to the lake during the off-season. We have an artificial tree and a few mantle adornments; enough to make the place feel festive. Our recent cabin upgrades created a fresh, new canvas of decorating opportunities so I see myself going nutso buying all the adorably rustic decor I can fit into my virtual and real-life shopping carts for many years to come.
Andi doesn't love decorating for the holidays so I don't force him to participate, but he was kind enough to hoist Tory up high to top the Christmas tree with its star. Tory must've seen this somewhere because she's been so excited to place the star on our three (!!!) Christmas trees this year.
I couldn't help but feel sentimental about Thanksgiving weekend last year as I decorated the cabin's Christmas tree and swooned over ornaments and momentos. Every year, the beginning of September gives me deja-vu memories about Tory's first days of life (the smell of our three-season porch at home, the start of school-days, etc.) and preparing for the holidays at the cabin flooded my heart with similar emotions for one-week-old baby Aden. Weep!
In other news, Tory and Aden are fascinated by snow globes this year. I picked up this musical reindeer one at Target last year and both kids requested to watch its magic at least a dozen times throughout the weekend. I remember loving snow globes, too, as a kid. Once again, witnessing the wonder of the holidays through the eyes of my children proves to be so wonderful. I could watch her watch the snow globe's twinkling flakes fall for hours.
Friday afternoon, Andi's parents Jim and Janie joined us at the cabin for a 24-hour stay. Janie brought the makings for lefse, a soft Norwegian flatbread. Making lefse around the holidays is a tradition in Andi's family, stemming all the way back to Janie's paternal grandmother. Janie's taught many friends and family members how to make lefse over the years, and she's continuing the tradition with Tory and I. Tory has a long wooden lefse stick with her name on it and the year "2012" marked from the very first time she participated in the tradition.
Typically, lefse is made from potatoes, cream, butter and flour which isn't compatible for someone allergic to dairy like Aden. Janie went the extra mile this year to make a special batch for Aden using real potatoes, soy milk and dairy-free butter. Afterwards, we enjoyed our lefse rolled up with butter and sugar sprinkled in its center.
That night, Andi and I enjoyed a relaxing session in the outdoor sauna. With Janie and Jim there, we were able to take our time and not worry about the kids sleeping indoors. (Usually, we bring the baby monitors out with us.) I've missed our weekend evenings spent in the sauna! There's something fun and refreshing about dashing outdoors through the snow and hopping into a 175 degree cedar barrel.
Saturday morning, Andi and I ran into town for a quiet kid-free morning. I had an appointment to have snow tires put on my car, and since Grandma and Grandpa were at the cabin they offered to stay with the kids. Afterwards, Janie and Jim left to drive back to the Twin Cities.
It was an absolutely beautiful winter's day, so we headed outdoors with the kids for an afternoon of ice fishing, sledding and playing in the snow. There is about 8" of ice on the lake now which makes it safe for walking on the ice, ice fishing and driving on the lake with a snowmobile or the Ranger ATV. The lake is perfect for walking on right now because it's completely frozen and the ice is covered with a thin layer of snow so it's not very slippery. Toward the end of winter last year, the snow drifts were so deep it was impossible to navigate, but right now it's easy to coast along pulling the kids in sleds behind us. We own a baby sled we used for Tory a few years ago which now fits Aden perfectly, and a bigger kid's sled for Tory. The kids had a blast sledding from cabin neighbor's house to house and all along the lake. Several times, Tory dropped to the ground at a moment's noise and started flapping her arms and legs to make snow angels. It was the cutest (and funniest) thing.
Winter can be so fun when it doesn't burn your extremities being outdoors!
Tory is turning into Andi's little fishing buddy. She accompanies him from ice hole to ice hole, checking his tip-ups for fish all throughout the day. One time, he caught a Northern and it startled her enough she ran into the Ranger ATV to hide. Ha! I think Tory was a little befuddled to see proof the fish were still in the lake under the frozen ice.
That evening, we went to a Christmas concert at the Pipe Dream Center not far from the lake cabin. We attended this concert on a whim last year and it was so weird that it was awesome; I was dying to go back again. This year, we invited a few cabin friends to join us so Krista and her girls Hannah and Kate came along with Krista's mom Deanna and sister Brooke. We had a nice night! Tory and Hannah especially loved the Christmas music and danced in the aisles of the concert hall. Aden was a little scared of the noise at first, but then sat quietly on my lap and watched the lights and singers on stage.
After the concert when the kids were tucked into their beds, Andi and I sat by the fire, drank wine and shared a cheese plate. It was so cozy and wonderful, and exactly what we love about the cabin all wrapped up into one moment. Summer is fun at the lake for obvious reasons, but winter can be special, too. It's quieter in the wintertime; more peaceful and serene and still so beautiful.
Whew! This post only took me a week to write, but I finally published it! Winter is here and so far, we're embracing it with all the fun and smiles we can muster. I'm so thankful we have an amazing place like the cabin to force us outdoors to enjoy all of Minnesota / Wisconsin's four seasons. And, thankful for the holidays which make any weekend activity seem magical.