We play trains

He plays with trains
He plays with trains
He plays with trains
CRASH! "Mama? Can you help me? They fell all by themselves again."
Do you want to know how many tracks I've built? Somewhere around a bajillion. 
"You're a nice mama. You're a fun friend." 
I like you too, Walter.


View from the top

In my marathon training program, Sunday is my "long run" day, which makes Monday my "recovery" day. I still need to do some sort of activity, but running is off limits. If the weather is nice, I usually choose the bike. The terrain around here is hilly, but the views are gorgeous. Kinda takes my breath away. Or maybe that was just the climb...
Veiw from the top



Scrambled eggs
Birthday cake
Lots of time spent outside, gardening and exploring the trails that have become a bit overgrown.
Walter's first fishing experience. I'm so glad Nate was there to touch the worms and the fish. We caught three!
Big breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon to fuel my long run for the weekend.
A pre-birthday celebration with family. Chocolate cake, chocolate icing, seven candles. (On Wednesday, my age will add up to 7!) Walter also insisted I have a train ride at the zoo today. It's what you do on your birthday, you know.
Happy weekend to you!


Smart frog

Smart frog
This frog visits our back door every night. He's figured out that the bugs are attracted to the light in the window and he hangs out there, waiting for his evening meal. It's entertaining to watch him, sitting perfectly still, waiting for the right moment. Then BAM! He snaps them up. Who needs TV?


Summer evening

Dinner on the porch
Garden helper
Grilled dinner, eaten outside on the porch. 
Some work in the garden, including taking Grandpa's advice and thinning the beets. 
Airplane spotting, then swinging and climbing on the treehouse.
What did you do with your summer evening?


Late season garden report

The gardening season is just about over. I suppose I could plant some fall crops, but honestly, I'm looking forward to a break from produce for a while. Our first garden here did well for the most part. We had a few failures, but still plenty to harvest. Our bush beans did great, while our pole beans served as a daily meal for the japanese beetles. Picky eaters, they are. The zucchini had a bit of a slow start, but really came through in the end and we are, once again, overloaded with the stuff. The tomatoes were the biggest disappointment for me - hit with blight right away. We have very little to show from those five plants. Better luck next year. 
I just pulled the first few carrots from the ground today and they are looking great. The beets are a bit small, and I take full responsibility for that. I planted a lot, intending to thin them for the greens, but I let them go and get overcrowded. Oops! Still, plenty to keep Walter happy through the winter. He loves beets! My first ever crop of corn was a disaster, but I think I learned some things and I'll try again next year with a different location and more support. 
We had quite a few creatures in the garden this year. The fence did a fantastic job of keeping bunnies and deer out, so they weren't a problem at all. I was amazed at all the frogs we found. At least 3 or 4 different varieties hopping out at me. Today's find was the most unusual, a little green guy, sleeping at the top of a corn stalk. 
And then, there's this guy:
This little stinker has been nibbling on my eggplants. I did a little investigating and it seems to be the destructive tomato hornworm. Sorry buddy, no tomatoes for you this year.
So, things are winding down, but there's still plenty to do. I think it's about time to get Walter to harvest his beets!


Enjoying my view

My daily run sometimes seems like such a chore. It usually doesn't happen until the evening. It gets put off until after work, after dinner, after Walter goes to bed. But then I get to see the sunset in our neighborhood. It's a good end to the day.
Sunset in my neighborhood
This photo was taken with my iPhone - not bad!


A day at the fair

I took the day off.
I spent it with my boys and my mom, watching pig races, stuffing my face with cream puffs, and spinning in teacups – a great day at the Wisconsin State Fair!
Wisconsin State Fair 2011
Wisconsin State Fair 2011
Wisconsin State Fair 2011
Wisconsin State Fair 2011
Wisconsin State Fair 2011


Stewart Railroad Tunnel

We did a little exploring this morning on the Badger State Trail. This bike trail used to be the Illinois Central Railroad corridor and includes the Stewart Tunnel - 1200 ft long and, because of the bend in the middle, pitch dark. We parked nearby and let Walter ride his bike to the tunnel. Then we got out our flashlights and walked through the darkness. It was pretty cool. Walter thought it was great to be "rained on" inside. Is there no end to the magic of trains? I think not.
Stewart Railroad Tunnel
Stewart Railroad Tunnel
Stewart Railroad Tunnel
Stewart Railroad Tunnel
(With a long exposure and a flashlight you might even see some ghosts!)
Stewart Railroad Tunnel

Try this at home!

Ice cream in a bag
We made ice cream. In a ziploc bag! It's super easy, super fun, sort of messy, but super delicious. And it goes like this:
In a quart-size ziploc bag, mix 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1 cup half and half. Seal tightly.
Put the quart-size bag into a gallon-size ziploc bag along with some ice and about 1/2 cup salt. Seal tightly.
Ice cream in a bag
Now shake! And shake some more. For about 5 minutes or so.
Remove the quart-size bag and wipe the salt off the outside. Open and enjoy!
Ice cream in a bag



This shirt is too small. I don't want to believe that Walter is too big...


The Billmeyers go to Chicago

Another long gap between posts – more busy excuses. Late nights at work, running, and a Billmeyer family weekend spent in Chicago! The highlight of the trip for Walter was the train ride there and back. You couldn't wipe the smile off his face.
Chicago 2011
Chicago 2011
We also saw lots of skyscrapers, of course, and went to the top of the Sears Tower – or the "serious" tower, as Walter calls it. (It's really called the Willis Tower these days, but I'm not ready to make that change.) Here's Walter refusing to turn around to take a photo with me. We had some trying moments over the weekend. He's three.  
Chicago 2011
And he's a brave three-year-old, stepping fearlessly onto the glass hanging out over the city, 103 stories up.
Chicago 2011
We also visited the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Planetarium. Phew! Walter was attracted like a magnet to the trains. He's got a one-track mind. 
Chicago 2011
Chicago 2011
Chicago 2011
Thanks, Gramma and Grampa!
(There are a few more photos on Flickr.)