The Frugal Sisters’ Half Marathon

I got this sister (one of many) who is very smart, busy, fun to hang out with, and active.  Both of us want to be fit, strong and runners.  We are too cheap to be motivated by an organized race such as a marathon or half marathon.  Our goal for early summer was to run a half marathon, on our own schedule, in our own chosen location, without a ton of people,  and no race fees!

We picked a date – June 4th.  The forecast was calling for high humidity, 80+ degrees and 80%  chance of scattered thunderstorms, so we changed the date to June 5th.  The date was beautiful with a light breeze, with temps in the mid-70s, sunny, and 0% chance of rain.

I was the host for our half marathon.  I picked the location – The Green Circle Trail in Stevens Point, WI.


Our last-minute plans included inviting our mom to bike along with us and a picnic lunch at the finish, we each brought food and snacks to share.

frugal sisters selfie a

Inviting our mom to the day worked out fabulous, she carried our water and snacks and took photos.  I wouldn’t have these awesome photos to share if it wasn’t for her!

The route we ran:

We started at Roger’s Park on the Plover River Trail -3.6 miles, crushed granite trail.
Follows the meandering Plover River through woods near the airport.

Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 1 start


Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 3 wooded trail

Moses Creek Trail – 2.3 miles, crushed granite trail and boardwalks.
Travels through wet woodlands, sedge meadows, and forested areas for great wildlife viewing.

Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 4 boardwalk

University Trail – 2.6 miles, crushed granite trail and boardwalks in Reserve, paved road.
Trail through Schmeeckle Reserve, a 280-acre nature reserve on the UW-Stevens Point campus.  Woods, prairie, wetlands, and oak savanna.

Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 5 medow

Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 6 trail

Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 8 woods

Brickyard Trail – 1.1 miles, crushed granite trail and sidewalks.
Adjacent to a historic brickyard, this wooded trail winds past frog ponds and a creek.

Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 9 boardwalk in woods

Stagecoach Trail – 2.2 miles, paved roads with shoulders.
Follows Old Wausau Road, a historic stagecoach line. Stunning vistas of the Wisconsin River.

Riverfront Trail – 1.3 miles, asphalt paved trail.
Popular trail near historic downtown Stevens Point. Views of the Wisconsin River and waterfowl. Travels through Bukolt and Pfiffner Pioneer Parks.


Frugal Sisters' Half Marathon 13 end

I love race bling.  I have been know to do a race for a cool medal, so I thought we needed a cool medal for this one.   Jack and I made the medals for our race.



First Ski 2013

First Ski 2013

Our family will ski every Thursday night with our friends Mary and Phil and their kids.

Our first ski of the season was also Nola Mae’s first time on skis at 20 months old.

Nola Mae was a natural on skis.  She slid her skis along and went about 20 yards.  She was on her skis for about 20 minutes skiing with Mary while I went back to the chalet to help Robbie.  I don’t think she even cried when I was out of sight.  I saw her lose her balance a little and she stayed on her skis.  I didn’t hold her hand, she did it all by herself!

Skiing Nola Mae

The older boys were excited to ski.  Tonight was actually Charlie’s second time on skis.  Earlier this week we went to the ski hill to make copies for youth ski program.  Charlie quickly put on boots and skis and disappeared on the trail.

We are fortunate to have lights on our ski trails.  Henry was a speedy boy on skis, this is his third winter skiing.

IWSC at night

We are making memories!

IWSC Charlie & Philip

I have a feeling our Thursday nights will be full of skiing, snack eating and visiting.  (Next time I am packing snacks and a beer)

 IWSC Phil

Back to School 2013

First day of school 2013  

The boys were up at 5:50 AM to get ready for school.  The bus arrives at 6:40, I believe they are the 3rd stop.  Everything went well, so I think tomorrow I will wake them up at 6:00.

A photo with Papa before he left for work.

First day of school 2013 w papa

It was lighter outside when it was time to leave the house for the bus.

Frist day of school 2013

Robbie – Fourth Grade:

First day of school 2013 R

Charlie – Second Grade:  First day of school 2013 C

Henry – 4-year-old Kindergarten:

First day of school 2013 H

Charlie seemed the most excited last night.  He wanted to put on his school clothes before going to bed so he would be closer to being ready in the morning.  When Jack woke him up he was dressed and almost done with his breakfast by the time I got downstairs.

I knew breakfast was going to be a bit challenging for Henry and Robbie.  Henry is not very hungry when he wakes up.  This is how much he ate this morning.

Breakfast bagel Henry

Robbie takes a lot of time to “wake up”.  I don’t leave his bedroom until he is on his feet.   I didn’t have to help him out of bed today.   I was surprised he wasn’t more tired because he finally fell asleep at 10:30 last night.  He drank a cup of Russian tea and a little bit of French toast.

Breakfast Fr Toast RW

I expect Robbie and Charlie to be helpful big brothers to Henry.  They were both fighting over who was going to walk him to his classroom.  I always tell them “Brothers have to stick together!”

Frist Spring Walks

We have started our spring time walks since the sun is setting a little later in the day.   Our first evening walk was on snow shoes earlier in March.

 Dusk snow shoe 1 Dusk snow shoe 3 Dusk snow shoe 2

Dusk snow shoe 6 Dusk snow shoe 5 Dusk snow shoe 4

Lately the snow is too deep and wet for us to walk around our property.  Maybe snow shoes would still work on the very wet snow.

We tried just walking on the snow in the afternoon on Easter. There was lots of tears because the snow was getting inside our boots and for the 15 minutes we were out there the wind picked up and we got a 10 minute blizzard.  These two photos were taken within minutes of each other.

Easter blizzard boys on melting pond

On one of our most recent walks Robbie took a stick along.  I don’t understand the need to carry a stick.

I took these photos of him attacking the big snow chunks that were left by the snow plow.  These walks are a good time to expel some energy outside. Robbie has the most energy!

 spring walk RW jumps 1

spring walk RW jumps 2

spring walk RW jumps 3

spring walk RW jumps 4

Other shots of him in the air:

spring walk RW jumps air 1

spring walk RW jumps air

Nola Mae was cozy in the jogging stroller.  I am planning on doing a 5k run on April 13th in Marshfield with my friend Kristin.  Kristin is letting us use her stroller until then so I can make sure Nola Mae is okay riding in it.

spring walk Nola Mae

I don’t understand the need to walk in puddles

spring walk H

or the need to drive your bike into a snow bank.

spring walk CB bike

spring walk CB & H bike

This sign was put up in the fall of 2012.

spring walk school bus stop

Our first week with Nola Mae Margaret

Our first week with Nola Mae Margaret

Nola Mae Margaret

The birth announcement for the newspaper was written by Grandma Helen (A.K.A. Hanna) the family genealogist:

A daughter, Nola Mae Margaret Vater, was born at home on Easter morning, April 8, 2012, to Jack and Jenny Vater of rural Iola, Wisconsin.  The birth was attended by In the Beginning Midwives – Jane Peterson, Christie Woodliff, and Korina Pubanz.

 She weighed 9 pounds and 3 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long.

 Nola Mae has brothers Robert (age 8), Charles (age 6), and Henry (age 3). 

Grandparents are Jerry and Alice Hamm, Owen, Robert Schroeder and Lynn Hunsicker, Milwaukee, Rob and Helen Blaha, Loyal, and Neil P. Vater, deceased.

Great-grandparents are Neil and Eileen Vater, Owen, Ed and Elma Eloranta, Owen, Richard Fabian, Sussex and Barb Hunsicker, Port Washington.

Here is the birth announcement that was made on Facebook by our midwives:

The joy and celebration of welcoming a daughter on Easter morning moved us all.  Her 3 brothers will have so much to teach her, like the biology lesson her brother Henry who watched her coming shared moments later with the vivid details only an amazed 3-year-old boy could tell with such excitement!! And her beautiful name is Nola Mae.

My favorite photos from Nola Mae’s first week…

Saturday, April 7th:  Jack woke me up early to take the last belly shot that I wanted because the lighting was perfect.  We didn’t know this was going to be my last morning with my baby belly.

Sunday, April 8th:  Nola Mae made sure she had her own birthday, one day after Henry’s.  I wasn’t too surprised that Henry woke up early enough to witness the birth.

Monday, April 9th:  Today was the last day for Robbie and Charlie’s spring break.  My Mom and Helen were here on this day working so hard keeping the boys busy, cleaning, doing laundry and cooking many meals.

Tuesday, April 10th:  Our boys learned how to Eskimo kiss from Jack.

Wednesday, April 11th:  Our first day out in the sunshine.

Thursday, April 12th:  Henry making sure Nola Mae’s clothes are okay for her to wear.

Friday, April 13th:  Henry reading books to Nola Mae.


Saturday, April 14th:  My Dad and Step-Mom, Lynn came to visit for the day.  They brought us lunch, played with the boys and we all went for a hike in the woods.

Sunday, April 15th:  Our first time “do two of them” in Henry’s words.

My Dream Come True

I never imagined my life to be as good as it is today.  Well, some days I have to remind myself that my life could have turned out worse.  Especially on days when I have a  head ache, two boys playing basketball in my kitchen and one screaming because he wants the ball all the time.  Or when all three are running around in circles or playing ball tag in the house or tooting and giggling non-stop.  Believe it or not, they could be doing all these activities at the same time!

Here is how it all started: When I was 19 years old I was beginning to realize that a healthy and loving relationship is possible.  These kinds of relationships really do exist in this world.   I was in college, trying to get out of a horrible relationship and trying to figure out what my major should be and what I wanted in life. I wanted a career.  I wanted my own space and freedom and years down the road I knew I wanted a husband and children.  For most of my life I thought that I would get married, have kids and then get divorced.  By the age of 19 I was getting the idea that a divorce didn’t have to be in my life’s plan. I figured out other things I wanted to do…I wanted to be happy, I wanted to see mountains and try new things, like hiking, canoeing, camping and be more adventurous. In the spring of 1992, when I was 21 years old my dear friend, Kay, introduced me to this awesome, kind, loving, intelligent, caring, sweet and handsome young man named Eddie.  I was eager to meet him because I couldn’t believe that her new boyfriend was real until I laid my own eyes on him.  The three of us had a quiet evening in her apartment having dinner and visiting.  I loved him!  He was just as wonderful as she described.  At one point he left the room, probably to use the restroom, I had to ask, “Does he have a brother?”  Her response was, “Yes, but he is 17 years old!”  I said, “Never mind!”

Fast forward to November 1993: I was single, a month away from graduating from college; with dreams of  going to graduate school in a far away state. AND staying single for a long time! It was Thanksgiving weekend. Kay had been talking to Eddie’s mom about life drawings  (they are both amazing artists) and she was interested in trying something new.  Kay asked me if I could model for them, I agreed. When I was at Eddie’s mom’s house I saw this picture… I thought to myself, “When I have kids I want a little blonde headed boy just like that!” That evening Kay invited me to join her, Eddie and another couple from high school (Katrina and Gene) to dinner.  I had no interest in having dinner with these lovebirds. What kind of fun would I have sitting at a table with two couples in love and me as the fifth wheel? No thank you!  Kay tried to convince me that I wouldn’t feel alone because Eddie’s brother, Jack, would also be there.  I could talk to him.  Right!  What would I have in common with a young boy who is a freshman in college?!  Still, not interested!  Kay is a very convincing person and I agreed to meet them for dinner. During dinner I didn’t talk much, just listened to the conversations around me; Eddie asking Jack about his classes, the guys talking about deer hunting and me catching up with Kay and Katrina.  After dinner we went out to a local bar where there was dancing.  (My best memories of my  college years was going to the bars and dancing all night with my girlfriends.)    It was crowded and loud.  Jack and I got stuck hanging out together while the others mingled.  The music was good for a little hick bar next to the railroad tracks.  I can’t remember if I asked Jack to dance or if he asked me first.  We danced to a few of my favorites songs.  The “dance floor” was crowded, we danced close and I could tell he had “a grove”.  I didn’t find out until much later that he can’t really dance, by then I was in love and it didn’t matter!  By the end of the night we exchanged contact information (he had an email address – I had just recently learned about email and couldn’t believe the concept of email), a nice hug and a little kiss. During my last month of college I could only think of finishing college, going home to spend time with my mom and triplet sisters (who were 5 years-old at the time and cute as can be), and of course seeing Jack again. He wrote me short notes on post cards once a week and we talked on the phone a handful of times. I did most of the talking; little did I know that would be how all our phone conversations would go (and it is still that way).

Fast forward to December 22, 1993: Jack brought Eddie’s truck to Stout to help me move all my junk home.  I was embarrassed that he saw all the boxes of my worldly goods.  On top of that embarrassment, he brought his sister.  I never met Susie before this day.  I heard from Kay about how intelligent and how amazing his sister was (and still is).   My very first memory of Susie is her carrying out an old milk crate full of my stinky shoes.   Have I mentioned how embarrassing this day was?  Oh well, it was free help! Our first date (same day as moving day): When we got everything unloaded at my mom’s house Jack invited me to go Christmas caroling with his extended family that evening.  This sounded like fun!  I wasn’t getting too serious about this guy so it really didn’t matter if I sang Christmas songs with his cousins, aunts, and uncles.  Well, afterwards they had a party at his grandma’s house and I fell in love with everyone I met.  My favorite memory of that night was watching his cousin, Kate, toddling around, too little to sing.  (Now she is in college and has her own blog, click here to see how beautiful she can sing!)

Fast forward to August 1996: I didn’t go to graduate school.  I had a job I loved with an awesome company and with potential for growth.  I was still living with my Mom and loving it!  I was in love with Jack!  I am sad that I don’t have this exact date but this was the month he told me he wanted to marry me.  Helen took this picture of us right before or maybe it was minutes after we told her that we were getting married.

Fast forward to August 2, 1997:

Our honeymoon was five weeks long.  One of our many adventures was backpacking for three days in the Cascade Mountain Range within Snohomish County, Washington.

After our honeymoon Jack moved back to Platteville to finish his last year of college and I went back to my little house in Amherst.  In May of 1998 he got a job in Clintonville and we moved to Iola.

Fast forward to September 1999:

Our new house and farm!  We would hike around our property almost every day.  One of my favorite memories of these early years is of a Saturday night in the spring of 2000.  We were planting trees and enjoying our time together and realized it was a Saturday night.  If someone would have told me when I was 19 years old, “In ten years you will be on your own farm planting 200 trees with your husband on a Saturday night and loving it!”   I would have laughed in their face! In the next few years during our hikes around our property I would imagine a blonde headed boy running through the field.

Fast forward to October 2003:

Fast forward to August 2005:

Fast forward to April 2009:

Fast forward to May 2011:

Our blonde headed boys!

Fast forward to April 2012:

Nola Mae 054 blog

These photos needed updating…May 2015

crab apple Robbie

crab apple CharlieCrab apple tree Henry  crab apple tree boys

crab apple tree Nola Mae

crab apple tree kids

Old Dresser

Old Dresser

(Three drawers and mirror)

The dresser was in my grandparents’, Nola and Richard Fabian, house on Kilbourn when they bought the house in the summer of 1957.  It was used in a room that they rented out until Alice (my mother) was in high school.  That was her room for the last 6 months that she lived at home, and the only time that she had a room to herself.

The dresser was given to my mother, Alice Hamm, after Nola died and my grandma’s house on 74th was sold, 1984.

I am not sure who used the dresser between the three of us kids (Jenny, Emily or Stevie Schroeder).

My sister, Danna Hamm, used the dresser for a few years; the dresser was given to Jenny in the summer of 2004.

On the side of the dresser I found my name written in black marker.  I am not sure when that happened, sometime when I was still writing my J’s backwards, probably 4 years old, while visiting grandma.  I don’t know if she ever knew I did that?

November 2, 2004, I started to re-arrange Robbie’s room, which led me to refinishing this dresser.  I stripped and sanded it within two days, after Robbie went to bed.  I spent a few late nights out in the workshop.  After the stripping and sanding was done, my name was no longer there.  I regret sanding it off, now that I have put together the history of this dresser.  This project happened so fast that I didn’t think to take a “before” photo.   

The stain is “special walnut.”

Dresser was completed on December 8, 2004 and put into Robert William’s bedroom.

Missing knob on bottom drawer will be the next improvement.  The attached mirror will be done at a later date.

Robbie used this dresser until July 2010.  When he moved into size 7 clothes they no longer fit in the drawers.  He is now using a dresser that came from my father’s side of the family, until my brother is ready for it.

Henry will be the next boy to use this dresser.