Northwoods New Year's Eve Redux

It's our favorite week of the year: New Years at the cottage. We always switch drivers in Ladysmith and when we went to switch I noticed they had a little drive through Christmas light display.

How charming, Ladysmith.

We were the first to arrive which means no heat. 

We bundled up Meadow to high heaven and then put her to bed.

My dad said it was okay to turn the water heater on even if the heat wasn't fully on. We let the water run and Scott went into the basement to make sure no pipes were leaking. That was when we both noticed the kitchen sink was leaking and water was all over the floor.

Mike had recently changed the kitchen sink. The faucet has plastic pipes that never quite got all the air out. Poof! Water everywhere.

We're typically not the first ones here. We didn't really bring anything for breakfast except flour and milk. I went to the store to pick up some eggs, came home and whipped up some waffles. Now we were ready to get our outdoors on.

A week before we checked a webcam of the area and it showed little snow and unfrozen lakes. We joked we would go for a boat ride if there was open water. Luckily the temps dropped and they had a big snowstorm.

I wouldn't call it a snowstorm, but there was enough snow and ice to have some fun.

I started to make an ice rink.

I watched.

Usually around here Brooke gives up, but she just kept on shoveling.

The ice rink wasn't going to appear on its own.

Meadow has been begging to go ice skating lately. Now she had her chance.

She definitely enjoys it much more than last year.

I just kept on shoveling.

Meadow was tired from watching mama.

Then Blake and my dad finally arrived. Unlike Scott, Blake helped me prepare the rink.

They did a damn good job.

It wasn't quite done, but I was tired.

My dad used a leaf blower to try to blow off some of the snow.

I noticed around here that the rink had an odd shape. I decided to finally chip in. 

Brooke, Blake and I were tasked with the Christmas Tree hunt. We brought beer.

A tree from years past.

Come on guys, that's cheating.

Blake is explaining to me the difference in tree varieties.

I was busy gazing at the winter wonderland.

This one looks good.


Brooke made me help carry in. That's until she realized I wasn't really helping.

Meadow had lunch while we prepared the tree. After the tree was decorated my dad said there would be no presents this year because Santa was too busy. We were a little disappointed and threatened to go home.

We had to do a lot of trimming on the tree. Instead of throwing away all the branches I made a wreath out of them. It was so easy, I can't believe I never thought to do this before.

Well, we don't usually have ten extra feet of branches left after trimming.

Then we tested out the rink.

Blake used the broom to melt the snow. If only we had a Zamboni.

This year the weather was mild enough that we could be outside for more than a half hour.


I didn't really ever want to go inside.

Either did Blake.

After it got dark we were ready to go out and party. Scott chose the restaurant again, he's always good at that.

I'd seen Spang's along the highway in Arbor Vitae dozens of times. I was so excited to go here.

You pretty much can't go anywhere around here without running into 'mobilers.

That's a snowmobiler for the city folk.

Blake picked a bottle of red wine for everyone to share. It just seemed like a better fit than brewskis.

With our dinner we got soup or salad and an antipasti plate.

Meadow does not sit still at restaurants. We really have to work on that.

Meadow ordered the buskeddy.

Everyone's food was perfectly Italian-American. Lot's of sauce, lot's of pasta and cheesy.

Mrs. Spang volunteered to watch our rascally rabbit.

She even took her on a tour of the kitchen, lucky girl.

Meadow enjoyed spending time with the owner and was even promised a job when she turns 14.

Now we have to move up to the Northwoods.

I think we'll have to take Gail here sometime. She'll love it.

Then we decided to go out for drinks. I know it's acceptable in WI to take your children to a bar, but I don't think I've ever seen children at a bar that didn't have a restaurant attached to it.

No one seemed to mind at good old Tiny Tap.

I heard a "Oh look, a little one!" when we walked in.

We ordered Meadow a kiddie cocktail as a special treat, but she didn't like it.

The bartender had hard rock on the PA.

She also brought Meadow some New Year's Eve gizmos.

Meadow wanted to gamble, but we insisted that she had to wait until she got that job at Spang's.

We some how always end up having to stop at the grocery store every New Years Eve.

My wreath in all it's glory.

Meadow started practicing for the midnight grape eating contest.

Blake lit off some fireworks while we all sat inside the cozy cottage and drank more beer.

It's apparently good luck if you eat 12 grapes within the last 12 seconds of the old year. I think I ate three.

I nearly got all mine down. I guess I'll have the best luck of the bunch of us.

"More book."

The next morning I made Kaiseschmarrn for everyone.

Yummy. I think this is a new New Years Day breakfast tradition.

I think this has usurped big pancake as the best of all the pancakes. Mike wanted syrup on his. He's old school or perhaps just old (zing).

As it turns out there was a Christmas miracle and Santa did come. He totally had us fooled. Meadow is actually opening a tea set that hadn't yet arrived for Christmas day.

Blake got another one of my old sweaters from Santa.

Ice pucks for everyone!

This year I got a teapot solar light, melted bead kit, snowman pinwheel and a puzzle.

I got an ice fishing setup, model kit, beer cozy, air freshener and pepper spray. I'm not sure if it's for back home or the woods?

Meadow got the tea set, pom poms, finger paints, a red whistle and Little People garage set.

I was ready to sit out in the cold and catch some fish.

Actually he wasn't until he learned there would be an ice shanty.

Come here fishy, fishy, fishes.

Since three of us had licenses Mike could setup a few more tip-ups.

Then it was Northwoods play time. I'm so glad Meadow is comfortable walking in her snow gear this year.

This view never gets old.

We should have brought Meadow's tiny hockey stick.

Blake and I were pretty devoted to keeping the ice rink pristine.

Each of us kept expanding the rink. It got bigger and smoother throughout the extended weekend.


Meadow does pretty good skating on her own, but she prefers having me help her.

The ice was thin enough that an axe worked better than an auger, but, personally, I wouldn't do this method.

Where's the net?

I finally figured out where Brooke learned to be a busy body: watching her dad. He's always up to something.

The night before I had promised Blake Mac and Cheese for lunch. None of that fancy bechamel sauce. Just butter and lots of cheese.

The puzzle I got was only 100 pieces. I  finished in no time.

Meadow was really excited to see that the ice fishing poles were her size.

I hadn't seen my dad use his ice shanty in a long time.

He couldn't set the shanty out too far because the ice was only 3 of 4 inches near the shore.

I can't wait for summer. Meadow's going to love going fishing.

She switched between grandpa and my poles.

At some point I texted Brooke to make Oreo Balls. When I went in they were not made. Brooke!

I tend to turn my phone off when I'm here.

Blake and I were the last to stay out fishing. Nothing biting. Typical me.

Homemade pizza is now a cottage tradition.

Since I didn't make oreo truffles for Christmas there was a demand for them at New Years.

Blake and I made them because Brooke was being a party pooper.

Meadow made a picnic for Blake that I thought it was adorable.

We played some Creationary and Blake probably won. Romenesko's always cheat for one another.

For whatever reason I woke up at 7:30 the next morning. While everyone slept I prepped breakfast and read. Scott thinks I want to be Victorian. The book really should be called a day in the life of a Victorian.

Eventually I smelled the hash and woke up.

We set up the random ice shanty we found on the side of the road last year to use as a warming house. Meadow thought it was just another tent.

My dad got some new kites from Santa. Blake apparently got tired of holding it so he attached it to the ice shanty.

Blake was never happy with the rink.

Meadow carried Monkey on her back with her new carrier, who also had to be dressed for winter too.

Of course.


Meads found a few places to play, but eventually would yell for mama or papa.


With the sun out today it actually felt too warm.

Too warm! Speak for yourself.

I brought the Diana+ Instant Back with. I took some portraits and landscapes.

We still weren't having much luck fishing. Mike caught a small musky, but had to throw it back.

Mike looked for a better place to fish.

It seemed like not as many people were up this year.

No snowmobiling. Ya, know?



Everyone else wanted to stay in the ice shanty all day. I went outside to fly the kite by myself.

Meadow gave up on fish and started fishing for ice.

She started using her hands eventually. Grandpas had to warm them up, but after a few minutes she was back at it.

I finally convinced Blake and Meadow to go on a walk with me.

My dad actually received two kites. We decided to have a kite party, brought out both and found Blake's.

Blake and I would call it a kite fight. Thank you very much.

Blake's old kite wouldn't fly so we gave up on that quickly.

These kites from Ikea are awesome. They fly really easily and even  Meadow could do it.


Brooke and I each lost our kites once and had to run after them.

"Look Grandpa, I'm kiting."

As you can tell we had a lot of fun with these kites.




I lost one of my mittens on New Years Eve so I had to borrow my dad's work gloves instead.


Fishing and kite flying kept us busy until sunset.

You may have thought that the fun was over, but we had plans once the sun went down.

I had decided to put all my ice lanterns around the ice rink and then we would all go ice skating at night, but it was too windy and they wouldn't stay lit.

Mike brought out a flood light and we skated for an hour or so.

It would have been so pretty. Maybe next year.

I lined them up on the deck instead.

It's tradition.

Before we left, Mr. Mike made pancakes until he ran out. Then I made some french toast with the leftover milk and eggs.

Once we were ready to go Meadow didn't want to leave.

Everyone waited to say goodbye.

She eventually gave them a hug and we were on our way.

Meadow has reached a monumental milestone. She is finally big enough to be forward facing.

Happy New Year!

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