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On the Second Week of Advent...

Dec 9 - We got a Nutcracker
We took an unplanned trip up to the cottage. But really how can you say no. On the way Meadow and I picked out a Nutcracker. She insisted we get a girl one this year. It's a ballerina of course that has a music box. You can see it up there on the fireplace.

If you squint that is.

Brooke asked why I didn't bring my fishing gear? I figured that the lake was at least a bit frozen. Turns out it was already 4-5 inches thick already.

We picked up some groceries in town along with a rotisserie chicken.

I could never figure out where the chickens were. It was on the one wall I never looked at.

Hello Mr Snowman.

When we got back we dinner. We had the rotisserie chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts from our garden and potatoes with an aioli.

I also created my own snowman on the fridge at the cottage. I had been wanting to do this for years, but my parents are the only ones with a white fridge. I finally remembered to bring up some construction paper. 

Dec 10 - We had Reindeer pancakes for breakfast and made Sugar Cookies
I guess the baking powder was bad because our pancakes were more like crepes. They did not hold their shape well. This was the best looking one of them all.

That looks perfect and tasted better.

Then it was time to see just how frozen the lake was after a mild start to the meteorological winter.

I think that's Meadow telling us it looks solid to her.

The lake had just frozen like yesterday. I was kind of hoping to take the kayaks out in December.

Apparently a week and a day of freezing temps will do the deed.

It must have been windy when the lake froze.

Should have brought our ice skates.

Dad said we should make an ice rink with Blake's pond. It was less windy in here.

Meadow wanted to play in the sand box. Unfortunately grandpa covered it up for the season.

Then we took Meadow for a walk in one of the cottage sleds. Unlike New Years we didn't bring any of our winter toys along.

Instead we used what was available on the premises.

I found a warm spot in the sun before heading back.

Ah, hot cocoa time.

I went into the woods to get some pine branches to make a wreath. My dad found some wire for me to attach it to. First we had to double it and twist it to make it stronger.

I proceeded to make the sugar cookies. The only problem was that our shortening was past it's best by date. That didn't stop me.

More outside time. Winter at the cottage is the best.

While I worked on the wreath my dad strung up lights.

And then my wreath.

We're getting all kinds of ahead of ourselves. We want have anything left to do by NYE.

At this point I asked Brooke, "Is the dough supposed to taste like play-dough?"

Sunset on the Lake never ceases to be beautiful.

The lake was cratered with circular patches that looked like the last bits of the lake to freeze. I went to check how frozen they were. It turns out they were quite frozen.

Meadow was getting in some swing time with grandpa. She doesn't get to the playground much this time of the year.

Meadow made her first snow angel.

Then we went back down to the lake to witness dusk.

I was inside the whole time staying cozy by the fire reading.

Mr. Mike wanted to see just how thick the ice was. He came up with a thickness of the long end of the ax.

Then we noticed that this giant crack had formed and decided it would be best to go back inside.

Then we made sugar cookies. I had been wanting to try this with Meadow this year. 

She rolled out and cut out her own.

We don't have what you would call typical Christmas-shaped cookie cutters.

They still turned out beautiful.

Hello Wisconsin.

Then we had my world-famous fajitas. We haven't had these in ages.

My dad had the fire going since we arrived. It feels so much cozier with it.

Dec 11 - We saw a Christmas Light Display During the Day
Brooke's famous breakfast, with egg in the hole toast.

A bunch of snow was on its way and it had already started when we woke up.

It was so quiet on the lake. No one else is up, the lakes not frozen enough for snowmobilers. It was very peaceful.

We took a walk along the shoreline for a bit.

Meadow straggled behind.

Grandpa could've ditched us for the Packers game, but decided he wanted to stay with Meadow for a while longer.

With the snow coming we left way earlier than we would have liked. Meadow and I flew down to the lake to say goodbye.

Bye Lake.

Then we raced back to the car.

By the time we had drove to Ladysmith we were hungry. We always pass Grandpa's Pizza and decided to try it this time. We had the place to ourselves!

Meadow was more excited to do some coloring.

We started with the cheese fries.

The pizza was delish, definitely coming back.

They have a double crust option where they basically layer two Midwest-style pizza doughs on top of another. It was perfect.

I didn't think we would leave so early. It was still light out when we drove through the perennial Ladysmith Christmas light display.

Maybe when we are back in a couple weeks it'll be dark enough to see.

Dec 12 - Scott and Meadow Go Sledding
There had been a snowstorm while we were out of town.

With the recent snowfall I told Scott he should take Meadow sledding. 

I sometimes struggle to get out of the house this time of the year. Without a car, even the shortest trip is a journey.

The best time to get out is the day after a big storm. That way I can drag Meadow's sled down the unshoveled sidewalks and streets.

I wasn't sure how into sledding down the big hill she'd be.

Meadow had a few great runs down the hill on her wooden sled. It's surprisingly stable.

Then she stole the saucer I had brought along for me.

She liked spinning down the hill in the saucer even more.

My beard was frozen after an hour traversing the hill.

Dec 13 - Scott and Meadow See A Ballet
Brooke had told us about Ballet Tuesdays in St. Paul's Landmark Center. To do that we would have to take the bus and then light rail. To my surprise, we actually did it. She loves looking out the big windows on the train.

We arrived just in time to a packed crowd. I had to put Meadow on my shoulders she could see a few scenes from The Nutcracker.

This was the first time I'd ever been inside the Landmark Center. It was once the United States government and postal building for St. Paul.

After the performance, Meadow decided to be a goof.

The only thing that could get her out of there was the promise of Mickey's Diner.

We braved the short walk in single digit weather to get pancakes for the gal and burger and hash browns for me. It was good.

We then planned on skating at the Rice Park rink, but it turned out they didn't have any pairs small enough for her.

Instead we spent a few hours at the neighboring St. Paul Central Library and stared at the bright lights of Rice Park until Brooke picked us up. It was a good day.

Dec 14 - We Visit the American Swedish Institute
The Swedish Institute had free admission for their neighborhood open house. Of course I couldn't pass that up. There were activities plus free cookies.

And it was all decked out for the holidays.

I like the mansion much more at nighttime. 

Especially decorated for Christmas.

All mansions are better with a big Christmas tree or three.

Though, the museum was pretty crowded.

"Look Jack Frost came!"

Dec 15 - JACC Light Up The Night Event
The Jordan neighborhood, of which I'm the board chair, was putting together a party to give kids in the neighborhood free bikes.

We spent a good while blowing up balloons which would all later by popped by millions of kids.

Eventually the crowd showed up.

The kids got down to the tunes.

Then the fun part happened. We gave away bikes!

The kids were excited to get new bikes.

It was an amazing night to give back to my neighborhood and put smiles on the kiddos faces.

After all the kids left, there was a one Meadow sized bike left. While cleaning up Meadow learned to ride a two wheeler!

Dec 16 - Meadow Makes An Ornament
Meadow made a salt dough ornament at her friend Eleanor's house. When it was finally dry she painted it. 

The kids got talent.


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