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A Big Old Family 4th and Our First Trip to the Fox Valley and Bay Beach in Forever

For Meadow's 8th Birthday this year she asked for mermaid cupcakes for her birthday dessert. Sadly with all our traveling I didn't have time to make it myself this year. Luckily our local grocery store had some. 


A few days before her big day I asked her what she wanted to do for dinner. She said, "I want to go out, but you might not like the place I pick." I totally though she was going to say McDonalds and was shocked when she said Subway. I don't even know the last time she's had Subway. 


Her birthday gifts this year were a Jarrito, Harry Potter legos from Theo, Super Mario 3D World and Yoshi for Nintendo Switch and a new unicorn bike helmet. 

We began our 4th of July weekend a little early with a trip to Marshfield, WI.

I had to shoot a cable company store and I didn't feel like going back and forth from Wisconsin to Minnesota and then back again.

Meadow found something shiny at the bottom of the hotel pool and I went diving for it. 

We got to the cottage for the long 4th weekend and I enjoyed some ramen. Because, you know.

Chelsea and the kids were already up when we arrived.


Theo would play in his turtle all weekend long.

Hey Harvey.

The cousins were reunited after almost a year. Theo didn't remember who they were.


Theo may have not remembered who they were, but he still wanted to hang with the dudes.

You can expect something yummy every night when the whole gang shows up. Chelsea served us her famous chicken and wild rice soup on our first night.

Then we went on our fist pontoon ride of the week.

Gail must bring wine on the boat ride.


Oh and animal crackers of course.

Not for Gail, but will end up all over the pontoon.


These kids do not respect the pontoon. Mess makers.


We were wondering what the backs of the cottages that face the highway we drive to town were like. I guess they have boat houses.

There's a long stretch of cottages from the 1920's. I just love looking at old boat houses.

There would be endless fireworks this weekend.

Even Theo did the sparklers.

The next morning I made my giant breakfast sandwiches. I left the bread outside to cool and told Harvey to keep an eye on them so no squirrels would eat them. He actually waited by them to keep a look out.

Meadow played our Switch while we waited for the giant sammies to be ready. Little zombies loved watching Meadow play her new birthday present, Super Mario 3D World.

After breakfast we took the boat over to a sand bar for some swimming.


Apparently other folks had the same idea and joined us at our not secret spot.

This is my smoking hot wife. Ha.

You know it's a holiday weekend when...


Then we decided to go over to Sunset Grill for ice cream.

Yay, more cousins came.

The whole gang was indeed here.

Theo's not sure about seeing all these people here.

But he loves that turtle.

It was my turn to cook and I did what I do best.

We did our annual pizza night on the front patio aka mom and dad's parking spot.

The mosquitos were bad so we thought a fan would help blow them away. Theo just liked how his voice sounded next to it.


We made a dessert pizza before opening presents with the whole Romenesko clan. Meadow even got to blow out a candle.

Then Meadow got to open some belated birthday gifts. Scott's favorite, a giant box of craft supplies from Chelsea.

The supplies will end up everywhere.

Brittany made Meadow a traditional basket weaved quiver for her arrows. 

She adored it.

Blake got Meadow the Pretty, Pretty Princess game. 

We ended our second night with Blake's Cards Against Humanity Family Edition we bought him. 

I got talked into kayaking the Pine River even though I knew the water would be too low. It started out great.

With our Nicolet National Forest map that we have it shows spots to put your canoe in. Blake thought this would be a good stretch. 

These calm parts of the Pine River were the exception rather than the rule.

We were getting caught up on all the rapids exposed by the low water levels, but Blake was sailing through.  Then we approached a small waterfall and went for it. Somehow I got turned around, stuck and Blake had to empty my kayak full of water.

The rest of the river was a trudge. Later I'd find out I'd made two small cracks in the bottom. We'd been getting stuck on the unnecessary handles on the bottom of our cheapo kayaks.

We were both getting annoyed by constantly getting stuck. Plus the ride ended up being a few hours longer than we initially thought. Despite all that, it was a pretty paddle. 

After not eating much all day we came home just in time for Dan's fish boil.

It was awesome.


Meadow keeps getting braver and braver in the water every summer. 




The next morning was parade time. Traditionally we have donuts from the grocery store for breakfast but apparently they don't carry them anymore. Instead we got a buffet of other baked goods and fruit. 


I feel like we get this photo every year.

Pretty much. It's not like this parade changes.

Some other kids nearby kept coming into our area stealing candy.



I've got to say, I was pumped for this parade after a year off.

I even told the chair ladies that I love them and the politicians to take a hike.

Even with a broken arm, Nolan gathered candy.


I wonder how many Trump flags would be out if they were allowed.

Brooke thinks it was a rule by the Lion's Club that there was no Trump flags allowed. Maybe?

Until next year, 4th of July Parade.

Marina bought Meadow a stuffed animal at the park.

I was super impressed that Marina paid for and talked to the vendor. Meadow would never.


There wasn't much going on, not even my favorite pie sale, so we went back to cottage. 

Back to the lake for the rest of the day.

Pretty much.

Meadow was super excited to have an "epic" water balloon fight.

I fell asleep in the hammock and missed out on this.

All was well except that Blake threw a balloon right in Marina's face. I put my camera down and got revenge for my niece.

Chelsea made a special snack for everyone.

With help from Meadow, Harvey and Nolan.

Marshmallows, blueberries and watermelon stars. They were gone in seconds.

We caught Dan putting across the lake. Mike's big fishing boat has been waiting on a part all summer.

Then the kids wanted to go tubing.

We even got Brayden to take a break from fishing and blowing things up.




Not as much fun being behind the pontoon. Brayden tried to make things more interesting.

It was the perfect speed for the little ones.

After tubing the kids wanted to swim in the deep area. 

For our dinner this evening Brittany made table nachos. Thanks TikTok.

These table dinners worked out with our group.


Then it was fireworks time.

Chelsea brought all the fun light up stuff.

There were also fireworks, we swear.

I always have to wash our car when I'm here. I had a lot of helpers this time.

The well water gives you the perfect rinse.

Later in the day we headed back to my parents house for the week. On our way there we showed them Cathedral Woods.

I couldn't believe they'd never been here since they've driven this route for 25 years. For some reason there isn't much signage from the highway.

Out of the woods in the Fox Valley we went.

We wanted to come this week so we could go to Bay Beach and the pool and maybe go to Door County. The weather had other ideas. It was 90 the whole time we were at the cottage and 60's and rain at my parents. After a long day sitting around we had to go to Dick's Drive In for ice cream.

Theo even posed in front for us.

At least we got this one must-visit stop in.

We both had to work during the day. Brooke used their office upstairs with our laptop and I brought along my iMac and worked in the basement.

The rain had finally stopped for a bit so we took the kids for a walk while waiting for my mom to make dinner. 
The kids said the playground was too wet to play and decided to play back at my parents instead.

Theo was very disappointed.

Oh yeah, my dad likes to collect broken parts of cars when people in the family get in accidents. 

I've also taken many versions of this picture.

The kids had fun with all their old toys.


I can still use the pogo stick.

Young at heart and still looking good.

After work on Thursday we planned on going out to eat with Brooke's parents.

After talking about it for days we talked my parents into going out for hibachi. 

It was just a kind of a joke, but Brooke wouldn't let it go.

We had an hour wait so we walked over to McFleshmans for a pre dinner drink.



I love this brewery.

Cool knit graffiti on College Ave.

I mostly wanted to get hibachi because I knew the kids would love watching their food get made in front of them. My dad was not impressed.

It was good, but I was bit nervous even with COVID cases down basically zero. You know, since the kiddos can't get a vaccine.




Meadow had mostly stayed with her cousins all week. It must have tired her out. She was not ready to go to Green Bay.

Finally the weather was nice and we could spend the day at Bay Beach. We haven't gone in 2 years and Theo is now big enough for the some more rides.

They must have rewaxed the slide because it went fast. 

Meadow did not want to go on again.

All of us rode the new (to me at least) big ferris wheel.

You could barely see Lambeau through the trees.

Then we had to get some snacks.

Always trying to get something from the claw machine. 


Theo was brave enough to go on the older, faster ferris wheel. He giggled the entire ride.

I'm too chicken but my kids love it. 

Meadow went with her grandparents.

Meadow is at the perfect age. She can still ride all the little kid rides and most of the big kid rides.


Theo was having the time of his life.


Actually she was a bit tall, but no one seemed to care.


Scott and I took Meadow on the Tilt-A-Whirl. She loved it.

We went on this years ago and I wasn't sure I'd ever get her back on it.

Then we took her on the Scrambler. 

Meadow and Brooke squished me the entire ride.

Much like a younger Meadow, Theo loves the merry-go-round.


Meadow was even big enough for the big swings. She has really gotten so much braver this year.

My swing kept going back and forth and almost into Meadow. This ride is serious.

Theo loves the carousel. 

Brittany and Marina joined us after Brittany was done with work. The girls went on the Yo-Yo together.

Then Brittany, Marina, Meadow and I did the Dragon ride. This was way too scary for me, I had to close my eyes most of the time. Meadow wasn't as scared as me but said she didn't want to do it again.


We were getting hungry and then the sun was going down, but Theo wanted one more carousel ride.

Meadow ended up going on every ride except for 2. 

We were going to eat at Titltetown Brewing, but it was closed for a party. Copper State across the street just stopped serving food. The waitress at Copper State suggested the patio at Hagemeister Park across the river.

At 10:00 we finally got food.

It was full of cool people. They didn't seem like the typical Wisconsin crowd.

This was a pretty cool space even if it was super busy.

Meadow was cold and Theo was flashing everyone so it was time to go.

Grandpa made the kids pancakes on our last morning at their house.

After breakfast we headed over to Donna and Malcom's house. We hadn't seen these guys in a couple years. I love how all of Lewis' trucks are lined up.

Theo was super shy at first but eventually warmed up.

Malcom demonstrated how they pull your wisdom teeth out.

One of my wisdom teeth was coming full throttle that week. It's all good now.

By the time we were set to leave Theo and Meadow didn't want to say goodbye.

Then it was time for us to head back to Minneapolis.

We had to stop at our favorite pizza place in Foster.

I think it changed owners and is now called Foster's Fireside, but the pizza remains great. See you later Wisconsin.

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