Thursday, September 17, 2015

Labor Day Weekend 2015: Summer's Last Hurrah

Memorial Day weekend brings the promise of warm weather days at the lake while Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer fun. Superficially speaking, of course. It's not like we won't have more happy memories at the cabin this year, but nothing compares to the absolute joy of summer. It's our family's favorite time of the year.

Fortunately, we were able to sneak in one last summer hurrah over Labor Day weekend when my parents, my sister and my brother traveled from Nebraska for a visit. It was their best trip to our Wisconsin cabin to date. I've been trying to pin-point exactly what made their visit so wonderful, and I think it might've been because there were no other celebrations happening that weekend to steal our focus. Together we ate, drank, relaxed and socialized for three days. It was lovely.

My sister Ashley, her husband Jason, and their daughters Brooke and Neeley were first to arrive to the cabin on Friday afternoon. The weather was warm and sunny, so we spent the evening outdoors where the kiddos ran wild. There really is something special about family, isn't there? Even when these cousins don't see each other for months at a time, they all pick up right where they left off.

My brother and his girlfriend Carley arrived a bit later Friday evening. We realized it was the first time in our adult lives the three of us - Ashley, Adam and I - had spent time together without our parents. We had to laugh because it felt like we were getting away with something!

That night, we all ate dinner together and the boys may have had a few too more cocktails. Ha! We let the girls stay up way past their bedtimes and then Andi decided to take them "froggin'" in the backyard of the cabin. They caught four frogs and toads using nets and flashlights, and the rest of us listened as Brooke, Neeley and Tory squealed with glee. They were having the time of their lives.

One of the tree frogs clung to the sliding glass door, and then Andi brought it into the cabin so the girls could each hold it in the light. Of course, the creature jumped away from one of them and all the guys proceeded to chase it around the living room. Finally, Jason lifted up the sofa and Andi snagged it with a net - phew!

Early Saturday morning, Ashley and I woke up before the rest of the crew and decided to take our coffee to-go on a paddle boat ride around the bay. It was so nice to spend quality un-interrupted time with my sister. We're used to talking on the phone, FaceTime-ing or sending text messages, so having the opportunity to sit next to one another and chat was priceless.

After breakfast, everyone piled into the pontoon for a trip around the lake. Boat rides are old hat for Tory and Aden, so it was fun to see Brooke and Neeley's faces light up with excitement. Like most kids, they loved having the chance to drive the boat and eat unlimited snacks.

My parents arrived to the cabin early Saturday afternoon, and together we all spent the afternoon soaking up the (partly cloudy) sunshine. The lake water temperature is already pretty cold -- too chilly for me to swim any longer! -- but the kids didn't seem to mind.

Fishing was a big hit with the adults and kids alike. My sister spent most of the afternoon in the paddle boat with one or more kids in tow, fishing around the bay.

My brother's girlfriend, Carley, brought her hammock to the cabin, and Andi hung his in the trees next to hers. Both Brooke and Tory were enamored with hammocking all weekend and could often be found lounging in one or both of them. It was too cute!

Sunday morning, we woke up to rainy weather so everyone lounged around indoors. Adam and Ashley brought their birthday gifts for Tory, so she opened those and then the kids played with the new toys. Ashley gave Tory two new Barbies and a Barbie car, and Adam gave Tory a Connect Four game and a make-your-own-puppet set. I turned one of the dining room table benches on its side and the kids used it as a stage for their puppet show.

To kill time and appease my sister, we all ventured to the Cheese Factory down the road from the cabin to shop around. When we returned to the cabin, the rain had stopped. The air temperature was actually really warm and humid despite it being cloudy outdoors. We played in the lake for the rest of the afternoon.

Tory and her best buddy, Adam.

Lisa and Morgan (our cabin neighbors) dropped by on their jet ski and Lisa offered to take Tory and Brookie for a ride around the lake. The girls were so excited!

We ordered broasted chicken to-go from The County Line Tavern for dinner, and Andi and my dad went to pick it up at dinnertime. While we waited for the food to arrive, Carley and Aden started dancing around the living room to music playing in the background. Soon, all the kids started dancing with them and eventually the rest of us joined too. My family is not a group of dancers AT ALL, so it was all very strange but also really fun.

After dinner, we put the kids to bed and then my sister and her husband, my brother and his girlfriend, and Andi and I scooted out to The County Line for their annual Labor Day weekend party. The bar hired a band for the evening and we continued the dance party there. It was SO MUCH FUN. One of the highlights of my summer, for sure.

Bright and early Monday morning, my family packed up their cars and headed back to Nebraska. Andi and I were each nursing a pair of hangovers or suffering from weekend exhaustion, if nothing else. We stayed up too late the night before! So, Andi and I did what we always do at the lake -- we loaded Tory and Aden onto the pontoon boat with snacks and juice boxes and took a long, leisurely boat ride around the lake. There had to be one hundred seagulls on the lake that Labor Day Monday. I'd never seen so many on the water. The four of us had a fun time watching them all fly around. 

More hammock-lounging later that day ...

And, Tory and I snuck in a few dozen rounds of Connect Four lake-side that afternoon.

My heart felt heavy saying good-bye to summer, but it sure when out with a bang. What a wonderful Labor Day holiday weekend at the lake. 

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