Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bicycle Lady

In the past few years, I have become a bit of a bicycle convert.  First of all, I really dislike traffic - and DC is known for traffic.  In order to eliminate traffic anxiety for myself, I try to keep most of our frequent activities as close to the house as possible.  Most of our shopping, library, school, and sports activities are within a 5 mile radius or our house.  Audrey's school is only 1.5 miles from our house, and the county put in a lovely wide multi-use trail for most of that distance.  Last year we rode bikes to and from her school quite a few times, but with weather both too hot and too cold and a heavy toddler on the back of the bike, the hills between the house and the school were just not as fun as I was hoping (and admittedly, I am a bit of a wimp).

I have suspected that we may be good candidates for an electric assist family cargo bike for awhile. And I have been researching family cargo bikes for several months.  I even created a spreadsheet with the costs of all the things I considered to be important - electric assist (to get up those hills easily), disc brakes (to get down the hills safely), etc.  The fanciest of the bikes I looked at is the Urban Arrow - at $5900, it is not cheap, but it can literally serve as a car replacement.  My favorite options are the bucket type bikes - with a bucket for kids and/or cargo in either the front or the back.  The beauty of the bucket is that it is easy to cover for weather protection as well.  The cheapest of the bucket options (the Madsen bike) comes in around $3500 after adding in electric assist, rain covers, and lights.  None of the bikes, I have been looking at is honestly within our price range.  While I love the idea of being able to replace our dying 2-door Honda Civic with a bike, I just don't know if I truly have the fortitude to do so in bad weather.  And in an area that is not known for its friendliness to cyclers, I don't know how safe it is either.  

Naturally I have been combing Craigslist for a suitable used family bike, but they usually go rather quickly if they show up at all.  Right before Claire showed up for Meredith's birthday party, an electric assist Yuba Mundo came up for sale nearby for $1500.  And after a bit of negotiation, I am the proud owner of a family cargo bike.

Me and the girls starting up the hill to take Audrey to dance class.
This is not the cargo bike of my dreams, because it doesn't have any simple and elegant solutions for kids in bad weather and that was something high on my list, but for the price, it is a wonderful solution in good weather.  I feel like it is a good test to see how much we actually can go without our car in this hilly suburb
and luckily we do have a lot of good weather here in DC.  I don't know if we will be able to ever go to just one car for our family, but with this bike, I am hoping to not have to replace the Civic for at least another year or two.  

I just got it last week and have already put over 20 miles on it just taking Audrey to school and her dance class.  It is so much fun to ride and Audrey and Meredith both LOVE it.  For the school ride, it is actually faster than driving and waiting in the car line.  On the bike, the trip to her school is about 20 minutes round trip.  In the car, it is about 30 minutes at least, though most of that is just waiting in line.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Audrey the builder

Audrey built a pencil holder crate at the August Home Depot kids event.
Audrey building a tree house at the September Home Depot kids build event.
Audrey and Jacob (our neighbor) at the HomeDepot Sept kids event.
Audrey has been talking about designing and building her own house for many months now, maybe even years.  So in order to get her some basic building skills for free and to let her see if she actually enjoys it, I have taken her to the monthly Home Depot kids workshops.  So far she has loved it and walks away wishing she could build something bigger and more complex.  

All of her talk about building reminds me of how Claire and I used to talk about building our houses right next door to each other when we grew up.  We would come up with new designs nearly every Sunday during church service.  We each made sure to grab a program and we would draw our designs on that.  It was a lot of fun.  I remember one design idea in particular that still makes me smile - the teddy bear shaped house.  Only a kid would think that is an optimal house design...
Meredith hamming it up in Walmart.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Audrey starts 4th grade

Audrey ready for 4th grade

Meredith ready for Amineh's house
Aren't they just precious!

silly girls, posing and making faces
The plan for awhile has been to have Meredith start at the Montessori preschool near us today too, but over the last few weeks we have just been feeling like she is a little too young.  So Friday morning, we postponed her enrollment by a year.  Then I went and talked to Amineh, the wonderful woman across the street who runs a care center in her house, and asked if she happened to have a bit of temporary room for Meredith to come in the mornings a few days a week.  As luck would have it she does, so today Meredith went to Amineh's house for the morning so that I could start studying for the Biology test that I have to take and pass before I can even apply to teach.  She was very excited and practiced her letters.