Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bicyle update - 1k miles

"Grandpa Kansas" (my dad) trying out my bike with little Meri (July 2015)
We have biked over 1,000 miles! I am amazed by that number, I'm not an athlete or anything fancy but thanks to the wonders of technology (thank you electric assist), I can ride my bike with kids up and down hills like a boss. And the best part is, it is seriously 1,000 miles of fun.  We have managed to fit 3 kids and a bike (with a flat tire) on the back in order to make it back to the house after swim team practice.  For summer swim team practices on Friday mornings, me and all of the neighborhood kids (ages 12, 11, 10, 8, 4, and 3) rode the three miles each way to the pool.  It was harrowing at first because they were all learning how to ride on the rode and I was yelling the whole time to stay in line, stay to the right, etc. But by the end of the summer, the kids had it and we all had a great time.

Now that it is school season again, we ride Audrey to school and then ride Meredith to preschool. Most days Audrey rides her own bike, but when we are running late, or if she is tired, she hops on the back and she and Meredith sing the whole way to school.  It is so much fun.

I originally got this bike because Mr. Money Mustache convinced me of the good value of bicycle travel and I thought it would be a great way to add some exercise into my daily life with the kids.  I had no idea how it would improve my mood and just make me a happier person on the days that I get to ride. We get fresh air, sunshine, exercise, songs, conversation, all while getting from point A to B. Bikes are life affirming awesomeness. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Asheville Birthday Visit

We went to Asheville for Aunt William's birthday.  The drive from our house to hers has been as quick as 5 1/2 hours, this time however, we set a new record for the longest travel time - 11 hours.  That is a record I hope we do not set again.
Meredith rode an antique horse at the Tobacco Barn, a huge antiques shop
Asheville has several great chocolate shops.  Claire took us to her favorite and they were just dipping some marshmallows in chocolate so we went to an antique shop where I found a small round pyrex dish in my favorite pattern - crazy daisy - yay.  When we returned the marshmallows had set.  Audrey couldn't decide between that and the homemade gellato, so we let her get both but she had to save the marshmallow for later.  Meredith got milk chocolate M&M bark, I got the best dark chocolate pecan turtle I have ever had.  Unfortunately we left the marshmallow in Will's fridge, so I promised Audrey she could try dipping her own marshmallow in melted chocolate chips.  She became a chocolate artist!
Audrey becoming a chocolatier with marshmallows
Audrey and Aunt William learning some basics of wrestling
Claire had a friend offer to give the girls a basic jujitsu class in the park, which Audrey loved.  Then we hit a couple of the local parks with amazing playgrounds - out of wood! Around here the playgrounds are all plastic and plastic coated metal. So that was fun.
Audrey hanging upside down at the playground
We went hiking up in the Pisgah National Forest to a place the girls and I found over spring break, Lake Powhatan.  It has a lovely little sandy beach area in one stretch and Meredith, Audrey, and I rolled up our pants, took off our shoes and waded in.  Meredith managed to get herself completely soaked.

Ryan and the girls drove a day ahead of me to visit his sister in Winston-Salem.  I don't know how I didn't get a picture of cousin time, but the girls both had "sleep overs", Audrey and Tori in one room and Meredith and Ellie in another.  This was Meredith's first "sleep over" so she was super excited, though after a day of hard playing was asleep as soon as her head hit her pillow.

Claire drove me to meet up with the rest of the crew and then we drove back.  Luckily the drive back was uneventful and quick.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Bicycle Milestones

Meredith eating her applesauce while waiting for Audrey's school to let out.

We have ridden 500 miles since I got the bike!!  I have become a much better rider and I am not afraid to take the road - in the middle of the day in good weather conditions - we all have our comfort zones...

Monkey bars and one seat cozy.
I also finally installed the Monkey Bars and crocheted seat cozies for the bench seat pads.  The seat cozies were so much fun to make, I used acrylic, and I feel like this is where acrylic shines, outdoor bike seat cover - perfect. Rain, dirt, sweat, feet, no problem. I made these to be easily removed and washed for another round.  It was a super simple job, I just did three granny squares, joined them together and then went around them a few times without adding any extra stitches.  That made them kind of pillow up, just like the seat pad.  Then I left 4 gaps where the seat pad straps are and removed stitches for the next few rounds to make it fold in on itself and it really hold to the seat pad quite nicely.

top of the cozy before I strapped it to the bike
underside of the seat cozy, hugs the seat pad to help it stay put
With the monkey bars installed I was also able to put the bread basket back on the front.  I find it is more useful than the big pannier for small everyday loads, like backpacks and snacks.  It can hold up to 50 pounds because it is attached to the frame, so I can really throw just about anything in it, no problem. I am thinking about doing a basket cozy of some sort, why not add a bit more pizzaz.  I feel like the more visible we are, the safer we are.

I love this bike, it has been transformative for us.  We all enjoy it so much more than the car for errands (in good weather).  However, when the electric assist battery dies, I may look for a different bike altogether because it is not a true step through.  The bar is low enough, just barely, for me to get my leg over it (and it is not my most graceful move let's just say). It is easier still if I tilt the bike a bit, but that gets tenuous when fully loaded with kids and gear.  Back in the days when Meredith rode on the front, in the ibert, I used to swing my leg around the back before Audrey got on, but that is not possible with the monkey bars.  So the mount/dismount it really not as easy as I would like it to be and it turns out I stop and check things out on the side of the road a lot more often than in a car, in a good way -  look! pinecones, a flower, a penny, a beaver, fireflies, etc.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Little House on the Prairie*

Meredith and I try to go to story time at the library every week and while we were there last week, I browsed the cook book section and grabbed a  book called My Prairie Cookbook by Melissa Gilbert.  With Meredith in tow, I usually judge every book by its cover or I preorder (which I love that my library does this for free) and just pick up things for my reading.  Sometimes I get lucky and really like what I grab, other times, not so much.

Prairie Peach Cobbler from this wonderful cookbook.
This time, I discovered a gem!  This is a delightful book with Melissa sharing memories and pictures from her time in the tv series Little House on the Prairie.  And what is even more lovely is I tried a recipe - Prairie Peach Cobbler and it was really good.  Seriously, this book is a gem for anyone who loves the LHOTP series and likes good american food.

Reading the book brought back so many fond memories of the LHOTP show.  So I watched an episode of it with the girls and they liked it too.  Of course, this made me want to binge watch the entire 9 season series, but that is only possible for purchase, so I put the digitally released seasons on my wishlist and the LHOTP marathon will just have to wait.

*affiliate link means that if you buy it on Amazon after clicking my link to the item, I get some Amazon money, but I am not sure how much because no one ever has.  It does not affect the price you pay, and I am clearly not getting paid for this endorsement of this library book. :)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Spring Break and Easter Activities

Hand knit eggs are one of my girls favorite Easter decorations.  I hide them to keep Meredith busy, just for fun. I made these two with Opal sock yarn, using my own pattern (available for free here).  The coloration turned out lovely. 

For Audrey's spring break the girls and I went to visit my sister in Asheville, NC.  What a lovely place.  This is downtown, the Chocolate Lounge is right behind the girls riding pigs.

While we were there we went hiking twice, both times in the Pisgah National Forest. It was absolutely beautiful.  

We got back just in time to do a few Easter activities at our house, we dyed eggs and put crazy face stickers - the girls are trying to make silly faces too.

The highlight of every Easter is probably the egg roll.  Grandma Margie has a few plastic rain gutters she keeps just for this purpose, we duct tape them together and roll eggs and cars down the ramps, through a tunnel, and out a jump.  This time the egg roll started on the stairs.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Life dreams

One of the things on my bucket list is to hike Machu Picchu in Peru.  It just looks amazing and while I am there I want to buy some local wool to knit a souvenir sweater or cardi.

I would also love to bike down the east coast to Key West.

This woman is making me think about new ideas that involve a couple little girls - wouldn't it be fun to hike the Camino de Santiago with my sweet daughters.

Friday, February 06, 2015

For the love of Kale

suspicious kale activity 
who me?  I can't even jump up to the counter top... when you are watching