Category Archives: play dates

A Simple Bike with Toddler

Saturday evening Oliver took a late nap so Brent left with Elliot and Avery to attend a birthday party, leaving children to play while he did the grocery shopping with the Yuba. Elliot rode independently to give a little more space on the cargo bike. London was with a friend at the movies, so I stayed home to let Oliver finish his nap and then caught up to the party a little later.

I could have hooked the trailer up to the mtb. Instead I elected to use one of Ashley’s bikes she keeps in our garage with her rear child seat, the Topeak. I was leary about this set up. I couldn’t put the pannier bag on the rack with the child seat and would have to carry a bag on my shoulder. The bike didn’t have a kickstand, so I had to straddle it while loading Oliver. The last time I rode a bike with a rear seat it was incredible top heavy and wobbly to ride. Yet, given the iBert didn’t fit on any of the handle bar stems in the garage, and I wasn’t going to use the trailer, this was what I was left with.

Stealing a popular scene from Simply Bike, the lap view.

It was 58F and another sunny day here in the Ohio River valley. I had been flaunting around in a skirt and satin top all day and didn’t care to change for a bike ride. Slipping my toes into my wedge heels and a sweater around my shoulders we rode west together.

The Cannondale Quick 9 was very light. The Topeak seat was incredible stable on the rear rack and Oliver felt very free to kick and turn and I didn’t feel any movement with the bike. On the Yuba, any weight shifting in the rear is felt and counter acted by the stoker.  I was able to do the whole ride, to and fro in the 2-3 gear, swift and fluidly. Should bag, toddler, heels, skirt, camera. All good. Given the frame was a small, and the seat very narrow, it was still a relatively comfortable ride. I would choose this scenario again if it’s just me and Oliver and not a lot of cargo.

I will also be suggesting or gifting a double kickstand and cargo basket to my friends to make this bike more utilitarian.


A Few Disappointments to Keep Perspective

The boys and I made plans to help at the community garden yesterday afternoon, then run a couple of errands. It was cold and light squalls of snow were popping up now and again between bursts of sunshine. I figured we could fit it all in and be home by dark if we left about 2:30pm.

You all know what they say about making plans. I laid out the things we would need and waited for Oliver to wake up from his nap. 3pm rolled by, then 4 and he finally called for me at 5pm! Well, what to do then?

I opened the door to snap a photo of the snow fall and started getting images like these.

And these

The camera gears were jammed. Bumma.

I loaded up the boys and decided to do one thing on my list, visit with friends. We left the bags for groceries and the box for donation, bundled up and rolled away.

It was a cold ride. The air temperature was upper 30s, but when you ride, the motion you make forces the cold air up your sleeves and into your eyes. Oliver was in the front seat, taking on most of it. If I knew he was still going to be on the front by next fall/winter, I would invest in a fairing. As it was, I had him under a blanket and wrapped a fleece scarf around his neck, chin and cheeks. The boys behind me just hugged me tight, no complaints for the 2 mile ride.

It was a very slow ride. My legs felt like they just didn’t have any power. I wonder how some days they can climb mountains and others they can’t roll on level ground.

We played and snacked until after dark, then relayered and rolled on back home. I have been playing with weight distribution on the deck. Half of the time the heavier child is on the rear and then I switch. I have noticed a considerable positive difference when the heavier child is closest to me.

All in all, we are very glad we made it out last night, just for the sake of going out. We came home about 45 minutes before London and Brent rode up from their trip to NYC. It was fun to see the bike maps Brent brought home with him from the city, and the highly sought after Skylanders he finally found at Toys R Us for the boys. They also surprised me with a Yakkay helmet from HUB, only the buckle was missing, so we are going to have to mail it back. Another Bumma.

Busted plans. Busted camera. Busted helmet. Family still intact. That’s my perspective for Monday.

We also woke up to a wonderful 2-3 inches of fluffy white snow! 2 hour delay for the big kids meant extra time with everyone and a flurry commute for Brent. How’s Monday treating you?


Rain Management First by Bike, then by Carpool

Bit short on illustrative photography this post. I didn’t muster the courage to pull my camera out last night while riding in the dark and rain. Thought it was wiser to keep my hands on the handlebars and eyes on the road. I think you will agree.

The Walk Home Yesterday
The children and I walked home from school yesterday. It was pretty drizzly all day, but the forecast was showing 30% chance of showers and it wasn’t raining so Oliver and I took the opportunity to walk up. We were glad we did. We stayed dry till the last block. The rain subsided by the time we were leaving the school and we went to the library for a grade school writing workshop and some book browsing.

We finished our walk home with a few misty moments, but mostly dry skies. It looked like it might rain, the streets were wet, but we were fortunate. After dinner Brent pulled up and London and I rode off to the Beverly Hills Presbyterian church for the viewing of The Last Mountain hosted by the League of Women Voters. This was a new adventure for me altogether. I had never been to a film viewing, been involved with this organization or been to this church. We were going because The Last Mountain involves the state of West Virginia and ultimately the health of everyone and our planet. London was invited by her Girl Scout leader and there were seven other children in attendance with a mostly over 60 crowd.

A Rainy Night Ride
Our ride up was damp and dark, but we sailed over the hills at a fare 9 year old pace, seeing we didn’t have back packs and extra children weighing us down. When we arrived, two folks told us how visible we were on our bikes. They thought our lights were bright and the reflective strip on the tires of the MTB were a great idea. I like hearing we are doing something right and staying seen and safe.

We planned for heavy rain and packed the saddle bag with extra gloves, ball caps, and waterproof jackets with hoods. When the film was over it was pouring rain outside. Everything got put to good use. With the exception of our laps getting soaked and London’s brakes still having trouble when wet, we had a smooth, dar
k and drenching ride home. So far, riding in the rain has been fun, but the air has also remained fairly warm. I might worry a bit more should I have to monitor extra children on bikes or have the little ones with me. I enjoyed just riding with London.

Rain, Rain and a Carpool Call
Last night I got a call from my friend Gretchen. She was going to pick up Alyson and her son and head to Ashland, KY’s Highlands Museum & Discovery Center today and Oliver and I were invited. Since our house was on the way to both the friend and the museum, and her van could hold the three children in car seats and us three mamas, I was game!

It was still raining steadily this morning and I was happy to be going out with friends. We spent a couple hours wondering the floors of the museum and then walked a block to the Pendleton Art Center for lunch. Our family has been members to the Highlands Museum for three years. We appreciate how inexpensive it is to join, and that our membership is reciprocal with other great destinations around the country. We have used our pass at the Clay Center in Charleston, COSI in Columbus, Boonshoft in Dayton, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Arizona Science Center, and several others. For nearly $60 a year (this year was less once we discovered the educator’s discount), this is one unnecessary expense we incur for the educational and entertainment value.

The Pendleton Arts Center was a new destination. I was thumbing through my Entertainment Coupon book for a place to get a cheap and quick bite near the museum and found a buy one/get one for the cafe at the arts center. I had managed to pack a lunch for Oliver, but planned to treat myself. It was disappointing to find Entertainment had made a mistake with printing the coupon. They listed the wrong name for the cafe in the center and then the cafe was not able to honor the discount. Despite this, I order a chicken salad wrap and some Canadian coleslaw. My friends joined me for lunch with salads and sandwiches. We fed our children and took a quick walk through the open artisan studios before we left.

It was Alyson who brought up the Kids Sale. She mentioned some great purchases she had made earlier this week and since we already in Ashland, we all decided to stop by.  With most of the under age crew conked out, Alyson and I slipped into the consignment sale for a quick browse and purchase. This sale has yet to disappoint as I still found all these great items.

Checked off my bargain hunting list were, a packable rain jacket for Elliot (new with tags, $6), winter coat with hood for London (Columbia, $5), footed pjs for Avery (Carter, $3), tennis shoes for Oliver ($3), and I threw in an extra pair of mittens and a set of monkey pjs for Oliver at $1 each. That’s right, for less than $20 I was able to get some necessary clothing for all four of my children. Great quality, amazing prices. The sale runs through Saturday with 1/2off discounts beginning on Friday.Not too shabby of a rainy day after all.

Glancing Toward the Weekend
We made it back in time for school pick up. I stayed home with Oliver and Alyson brought the children back. The forecast is looking dry and decent for the rest of the week. We hope to have another wonderful Critical Mass on Friday and see what’s up with Cranksgiving on Saturday.

If you didn’t see it on Facebook or Twitter already, here is the link to the Charleston Daily Mail article that printed in today’s edition. We were so honored to get several hours of Monica’s time last Thursday for the interview and to get to meet Bob, the photographer. She wrote a very sweet peice and Bob took some wonderful shots. I might email the article and photos to my relatives for Christmas in lieu of me never sending out cards and photos, if they haven’t read it through one form of social media or another already.

On the subject of photos, I am frustrated with Picasa. I have been using the system for years and yesterday I was unable to locate the Copy Link to put pictures on the blog. I found a long way around it yesterday, but today it was gone. I think it has something to do with Google integrating everything with G+, yet this means I might have to move to a new photo system or teach this young dog some new tricks. New tricks are never a pleasant experience for the instructor. Brent takes a verbal beating with my frustrations over machines and software not bending to my mere whim. Maybe I will ask Lynda to teach me.

On the Topic of Technology
Social media is an interesting and sometime incredibly wonderful tool. For the past week or so I have been assisting in administering the Huntington Cycle & Sport Facebook page. The owner, Tom, asked if I would like to post things there, and I took him up on the offer. Just another volunteer job I can do from my laptop. When I posted the Daily Mail article this morning I saw someone shared the link. I looked to see who it was and where they posted. That was how I discovered the Ashland Cycling Enthusiasts group. It was great to see they were biking as a group from Ashland to Huntington (35 miles round trip) while we were swapping soup on Sunday. They have other great cycling events, workshops and social gatherings in the works. I hope to check them out, when I have the endurance to bike 35 miles. Oh what the future may hold.

Miles Walked: 5 Biked: 36.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 6.8 This week
80.9 974.6 12.6 676 Since August 14, 2011

Oliver and Etta

Ms. Ginny, the librarian, demonstrates the new new children's computer station at Gallaher Library.

This tale left off with an appliance delivery and I am happy Brent got it installed last night. In the mean time, between loads of diapers and linens, I managed to arrange a date for Oliver. The lad has been going around the house declaring every baby picture he sees, Etta.

A little back story. Etta is about five months younger than Oliver and has been coming around since her birth. I hang out with these chubby cheek toddlers occasionally when her parents have other obligations and many times Etta and Ashley, her mother, will just pop in for a few hours to play. Well, it seems Oliver has developed a fondness for the brunette and can’t get her out of his mind. Forward to this scene:

Yes, I think my children have cute qualities. Oliver’s swooning over Etta is one of them. The children and I biked to the library after school and Ashley walked Etta over in her backpack carrier from their house. It’s probably wrong to feel a weency bit excited to see people walking and biking, but that’s where I am. There is a surge of jubilation to see people outdoors getting to and fro with their own strength and when they do it with their children…I am wowed. Easy as that to please me these days. Or as my husband says it, “obsess much?”

When we were leaving the library I felt like a terrible bike steward. The three bikes we brought were inconsiderately parked on the rack, leaving no room for the cute cruiser bike that parked on the side walk in front of the main doors. I apologized to the cyclist for my rude behavior and I am still feeling guilty, yet excited to see someone else biking to the library.

Then there was that moment of getting from the library bike rack to the cross walk. I botched that one. Toppled the bike over onto Avery and into the grass. I knew I should have tried to walk the bike up the grassy hill with Oliver in the iBert, three years worth of Better Homes and Gardens (they were giving them away for free and I have been yearning for a magazine of any kind to thumb through), three back packs, a bag of library books, and Avery on the tail deck of the Yuba…but I thought just maybe I could peddle up. I certainly should stick with what I know and not what I think I can do. Again, no injuries, just a bit embarrassment at my error of judgement, and we were on our way home, arrive just as it began to sprinkle.

This fellow was waiting for us when we arrived home.
Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 29.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 6.8 This week
58.4 561.8 12.6 570.6 Since August 14, 2011

A Ride Over the Ohio River

Thanks to Google Maps satellite images I was able to preview a protected route over the Ohio River into Chesapeake, OH for a play date yesterday.  Since I had never been on this route before and part of it was on a two lane, 35mph road, my very cautious and protective husband escorted Oliver and I on our first “epic” adventure. He stayed for the entire play date and saw us safely back to downtown Huntington before heading to work and I for home. He made a great camera man (that’s for you Jaime O.).

The map below shows the 4.4 mile route we used. I was excited to find a tunnel under the bridge on the Ohio side that was for pedestrians and bikes! It’s under the 529 sign on the map image but Google maps wouldn’t let me mark it. This tunnel helped us avoid higher traffic areas. We stuck to side streets until they ended and then we were “forced” onto County Road 1  (CR1) a.k.a. 3rd Street locally.

View Larger Map

I felt the ride was wonderful, even exhilarating. Going over the mighty Ohio in a dense and crisp fog was memorable. We stopped often just to breath in the scenery. Touches of fall color, ripples of water, rolling hills. The bridge was certainly less of an incline than the via-ducts downtown. It was a joy to ride.

Looking toward WV, the pedestrian tunnel to the right.
On CR1 heading east. Every vehicle went left of center to pass us and we rode as far right as we could safely.

Brent was also pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get on and off the bridge and how comfortable he felt in Chesapeake riding his bike. The trouble with our trip came when we were on CR1. Brent felt the traffic was going too fast and the drivers may not be accustomed to looking for bikes, therefore we were in a dangerous place. This was the true reason he stayed with me and rode back with us.

Inside the tunnel under the bridge.
A portion of Huntington, WV's skyline on the Ohio River.
Safely back in WV, the "epic" bridge in the back.

Since most of the journey met his safety rating approval, and I don’t mock here, these are very serious concerns of his, I have been granted permission to ride to Chesapeake, Ohio, but not on CR1. Sounded like a good compromise to me. I have news there is a MOPS group beginning in this small town and since it is six miles closer than the one I attended today, it is worth attending a couple meetings.

Technical issues: Because I decided to transfer the blog host there have been a few remaining issues to work out. Some links are not working and some posts are jumbled because of image sizes. I am going through all hundred something posts to attempt to correct the issues by hand, but if you see anything needing attention, don’t hesitate to let me know. I think the RSS feeds are working, but again, any problems…just give a shout out. Thank you!
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