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.



June 2014

June 2014

June was a productive month for me.   I am happy with the amount of things we did and the things I accomplished since it was our first month of summer vacation.   Things are getting easier for me with four children, because I remember past years in June I spent the month adjusting to summer vacation and me feeling very frazzled.

I did a lot of dyeing this month, check out my post about those projects here.

purple dress

A friend asked me to make her daughter a rainbow skirt for her birthday.  Her favorite color is pink so I reversed the rainbow and put the pink on the bottom so it is more visible and because I can never make the  same thing twice.  I always have to mix things up!

Spiderman was in the house when I needed a model and

skirt ruffle rainbow for Laura

he was pretty good at twirling around.

skirt ruffle rainbow for Laura spin

I had helpers planting my hanging baskets and flower pots.  I am usually picky about what color flowers go together and how many get planted in certain pots.  Not this time.  Lately, I have challenged myself to “let go” of the middle steps and be happy with the finish product – planted flowers.

planting flowers

I got my garden planted this month.  And my garlic is looking awesome!

garden June 2014

Since I am so late at getting this post done I am able to include a comparison picture of the garden a little over a month later.

garden July 10 2014

Jack had some company while he changed the oil in his car.

 changing the oil

Henry had his 4K graduation.  I also wrote a blog about these awesome socks Henry is wearing.  (Click here to read that)

Graduation 4K Henry


 First day of school, September 2013.   Frist day of school 2013

Last day of school, June 2014.

Last day of school 2014


Our strawberry patch was going strong this year.  I didn’t have much time to pick them all when they were ripe.  So I often sent kids outside to “eat as many strawberries as you can!”

strawberries Charlie

Strawberries Henry & Nola Mae

Nola Mae playing in her kitchen.  The hole for the sink (was a plastic bowl) is a common place for her body.  She usually goes from standing on the stove, to standing on the narrow shelf, back to the stove and then into the sink area.

Nola Mae kitchen

Aunt Susie came over and switched up our dinner table seating arrangements.  Henry worked it out so he and Nola Mae could share the piano bench.  And they were pretty cute together!

Henry & Nola Mae at table

My sister, Becca, is training for the Madison Ironman this year.  She is amazing!  My Mom, our sister Danna and I went to cheer Becca on at the High Cliff Half Ironman race that she participated in this month.  All I can say is “WOW!”

tri becca

Our cousins came to visit with us for a couple of days.   I had a wonderful time with a house full of children, seven kids – 10 years old to two years old.  Although I had to share my time with Jessie and seven kids, it seemed much easier to visit with her than it is when we are at a family gathering of 50 people.

Jessie field

jessie rock cousins

Our youngest babies together.  These two littlest cousins got along amazingly well for being two-year olds.

Jessie cousin friends

Our oldest babies together.  Some how our middle children got missed, isn’t that what always happens?

Jessie oldest kids

We spent a few days at Granny’s while our cousins (Andrew & Libby)  and Aunt Karen from the West were visiting.  Our visit happened to overlap on my Mom’s birthday.  When I announced my plans to the kids that I was going into the sewing room to make Granny’s birthday present Henry followed me down to the sewing room with his own idea.  He asked me what Granny’s favorite color was and I said blue.  He gathered scraps of fabric, cut pieces out and told me his design – to make Granny’s house.  I serged edges and he sewed the roof, windows and the door on.  This was the first time he has sewn something on my machine.

Henry sewing for granny Henry sewing Granny's house

This is what I made for my Mom from one of my dyed projects.

dye ice on glue resist bag

 You never know what you will find on the farm.  Henry happened to wander into the corn field and found hundreds of little frogs hopping around.

       Mom's Henry's frogs hands 1

He took a handful back to the house to show Granny.

Mom's Henry's frogs hands

I had a blast this weekend.  Visiting with family, watching and playing soccer.  We have our own CrossFit coach in the family, so we did a WOD (I don’t have a photo of that).

Mom's soccer on the farm chopper box

The littlest goalies.

Mom's soccer on the farm little goalies Mom's soccer on the farm

We ended our time with cousins at Diamond Lake.

Mom's Diamond lake resting

Four days after leaving Granny’s I took the two big boys to Grandma Helen’s to spend four days with the Vater cousins in North Dakota.

I didn’t realize this month was full of extended family stuff until I put this post together.  What a great month!

Week 47 – November 19 – 25, 2012

Week 47 – November 19 – 25, 2012

(Completed on 1/14/13)

Another version of our family profile photo.  My favorite.


Jack’s work shut down for the week of Thanksgiving.  So after the big hunting weekend he was able to be home and take his kayak out a few times.

Kayak w car

Kayak 1st time out

I love this picture of Henry so much I want a life-sized one in my house.

Kayak 1st time out w Henry

After the older boys were done with school we went back for a paddle with everyone.  It looks like we are having fun. I was not.  I was afraid we were going to tip.  I had a lot of fun paddling with one boy at a time.  The kayak is a very smooth and fast ride.  For now the only kayak paddles we have are kid sizes.  I can’t wait to see how fast we can go when I have an adult paddle.

Kayak w all four kids

A napping baby!  I will definitely miss these days,

Wrap Zara Velvet snoozing 1

We spent Thanksgiving with my mom and my siblings (minus my brother & his family).

Family Thanksgiving 2012

Our boys had some fun climbing Granny’s pine tree.

Granny's pine Robbie

Granny's pine Joey

Granny's pine Charlie

Nola Mae had fun climbing all over Granny’s counter.

Nola Mae Granny's counter

Jack and his brother took these boys to the Northwoods for hiking and a little hunting.

Northwoods Vater cousin

During Robbie’s time in the Northwoods with the Vater cousins he got a thorn stuck in his calf muscle.  It was sticking out a little.  It hurt him too much for us to pick at it.  He wanted to soak in the bath and get it out himself.  And he did and it was huge!

Northwood thorn in RW's leg

We were able to visit with both sets of Jack’s grandparents, but only took photos at Grandma Siggie’s.

Gma Siggie w Nola Mae

Gma Siggie w Nola Mae's hands

Week 27 – July 2 – 8, 2012

Week 27 – July 2 – 8, 2012

Monday, July 2nd:  I started my project of putting all the olive oil in jars.  It was my lucky day because I had Henry running the spout and Nola Mae napping for a few hours.  We finished the job with minor interruptions.

Tuesday, July 3rd:  I have been complaining about our fruit fly problem.  This morning I caught Robbie’s attention by telling him we needed to build a trap for the fruit flies.  Robbie helped me make two of them.  I am not sure if this was as exciting of a job as he thought it was going to be.  Grandma Lynn showed me how to make this when I was younger.

I showed Robbie the directions for this Strawberry Sparkle Cake on the Pioneer Woman’s website.  He was very interested in making this since he loves jello.  We made this cake and two other jello flavors.  I won’t make this ever again.  I dislike jello, jello making and angel food cake is yummy just the way it is, PLAIN!

Wednesday, July 4th: I took the older two boys and Nola Mae to the New Hope Firecracker Parade.  It was short and sweet and very entertaining!  The boys were excited that there was candy involved.   Charlie and Robbie each had a pocket in my shorts for their candy.

I just happened to have the camera on the table while I was drinking my coffee.  Normally I would ask Henry to get off the window.  I was curious to find out what his mission was.


For some reason Henry wanted to open the garage door with the garage door opener that is attached to the top of my valances.


Thursday, July 5th:  Another Sunset Lake photo…Nola Mae napping in our beach bag.

The boys have been helping me in the kitchen.  They have gotten very good at putting away the dishes, to the point where I can leave the room or house, this is how I found my pots.  I giggled and resisted the urge to “fix” it.

Friday, July 6th:  Granny came to visit and she had the idea to fry an egg on the sidewalk, our temps have been close to 100 degrees.  The boys were excited and seemed a little disappointed that it didn’t sizzle once it was cracked.

Saturday, July 7th:  I started to harvest my garlic (alone) digging up the ones that only had the bottom three leaves dried.  I was enjoying a little peace in the garden.

These were my helpers last year on July 24th harvesting garlic (during Week 29).

Sunday, July 8th:  Nola Mae wasn’t nursing well this morning.  I did everything I could to fill her belly and she didn’t seem interested or upset or terribly hungry.  When all of my attempts failed I put a fresh diaper on her and wrapped her on my back, trying this new carry I learned on YouTube (BWCC – back wrap cross carry) and she slept for almost two hours.

One of the things I ordered with my olive oil was beeswax.  I have been wanting to make something similar to the booty balm I use for the baby’s booty and a few other things.

Week 15 – April 9 – 15, 2012

Week 15 – April 9 – 15, 2012

To see more photos of Nola Mae’s fist week please go to this post… Click here for my post titled Our first week with Nola Mae Margaret.

Monday, April 9th:  Today I posted a short post with info on our new baby girl with no name.  Click here to see that post.  Then our computer crashed.   One of my cousin who seemed as surprised as I was that I gave birth to a daughter (my first time writing that word) was wondering if the arrival of a girl in our house and our computer crashing was a sign that the world was coming to an end.

Today my Mom, Helen, my mother-in-law, and Jack were here helping around the house and spending time with the boys so I could rest and relax.

My Mom’s take of her visit here:

I had the most wonderful visit at Jack & Jenny’s today. I was greeted by Henry running across the yard (in a shirt, underwear, & boots – his usual attire) with arms out-stretched, yelling, “GRANNY, GRANNY”.  I’ve never had quite a welcome as that.  He was very helpful all day as we washed  & hung up clothes, swept & mopped floors, he helped with cooking, and when I said I had some things in the car to be brought in, he was out the door before I turned around.  He found some Smarties in my bag and of course I told them they were for him.   We found a place for them in the pantry and he helped himself to them all day.  He stayed in the kitchen to eat them where his Mama couldn’t see him.

 He still had some birthday cake left and he had to show me his rainbow cake. I asked him which color was his favorite and he pointed to the white frosting! After supper he had candles in his cake and we all sang Happy Birthday, including Henry. Then Mama (Jenny) suggested we sing Happy Birthday to the baby because she is one day old. Robbie got out his music and played Happy Birthday on the piano for the baby. And he played very well.

Robbie hugged me like he wanted to – not because he was told to. He was quite taken with his new little sister. He’d smile so sweetly at her as he held her. He said he made up a song for her and sang it to her.  I haven’t heard it yet, but I think Jenny got it on video.

 Robbie’s Joke:  Why is there a shortage of honey in Boston? 

                           Because there is only one “B”

 Jenny spilled a glass of water and before anyone could ask, Charlie was running for a towel to wipe up the spill. He was all sweetness.  He read a book to Henry and showed me his glow-in-the-dark tattoo that looked like it moved when he wiggled his fingers.

When Robbie was sitting behind me on the chair holding the baby he said, “I hope she won’t be a bossy sister. Some girls act they are a queen or something.” Charlie came over by us and heard the last part about the queen and said, “Then we’ll be her subjects and have to protect her. And of course she’ll have to get a husband.” Is there a Harry Potter influence?

Helen had come the morning she was born, though just missed her birth.  Today (Monday) she took Robbie and Charlie to piano lessons in the morning and then later in the afternoon they went to Susie’s library.  I was told that everybody loves to go to “Susie’s Library.”  Poor Henry was a little sad that he couldn’t go, but he napped most of the time they were gone.

 Jack made a nice lunch and the boys loved my wheat rolls.  Before supper Jack took the older boys to a highway clean-up project.

The whole day went by with only one altercation – Henry got a little carried away with his light sword and whacked poor Robbie in the head.  Not intentionally, of course, and there was no retaliation.  Maybe this little girl will bring a bit of calm to a house full of boys.  Besides the fun day with the boys and lots of time holding the new baby, I had a nice visit with Jack, Helen, and of course Jenny.  Jenny looks very well.  Jack took a bunch of pictures of all of us together before I left.

As I drove out of the driveway (beep, beep), headed for home, they all stood at the window waving…

Tuesday, April 10th:  The two older boys went back to school after their short spring break.  The house was a lot more quiet.  In the evening Grandpa Rob came to meet Nola Mae.  Jack was sick with the flu in the middle of the night.  I was thankful Helen was here, I just hope she doesn’t get sick.

Henry helped Grandma Hanna shred carrots for the soup that Granny made for us.

I am not sure that Jack finished this box the week Nola Mae was born.  I had to share something because he was able to get into the wood shop this week.

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.