29 November 2009

Gwen Loves Tea Parties

Today Gwen and I went to a tea party at Mad Hat Tea Company that was organized by Tacoma Bike. We rallied at the bike shop at noon for a short ride around the Thea Foss Waterway. It was a family-friendly event and there four or five kids along for the ride, maybe 17 of us total. At the end of the ride, we enjoyed hot tea, fresh scones, red velvet mini-muffins, and plenty of other tasty treats at Mad Hat. We had fun meeting and chatting with other folks who like riding bikes.

Gwen was in charge of the camera, though the photo of us was taken by one of her new friends. On the way home she managed to snag a photo of the only sharrow in Tacoma (St. Helen's between 9th and Market). I love this street, but wish it were more than a few hundred feet long!

Thanks to Gillian, Tony, and Mike at Tacoma Bike and Maureen and Tobin at Mad Hat for putting on a great event. Let's do it again soon!

25 November 2009

Parting Skies and Pumpkin Pies

Sun! Pies! Fun! And that was just the ride to pre-school...

24 November 2009

Thankfully Healthy

After struggling with the H1N1 flu for twenty days, I finally felt well enough to shuttle the kids to pre-school in the Madsen bucket bike today. To me, this is a health milestone that says, "You're better!" There was a chilly Northwest drizzle falling, but with their legs covered by a light fleece blanket and an umbrella at their backs, the kids stayed completely dry. I was left with damp thighs from my rain jacket run-off, which made me reconsider the value of rain chaps. And while the umbrella is fine for light precipitation, my youngest isn't big enough to hold one up on her own (she stayed home for this test). I need another solution.

The folks at Madsen made a prototype cover, which I heard was scrapped for a different design. I've worked out a basic design of my own for a passenger rain cover which I hope to build and test in the next few weeks. Unfortunately, it won't be done in time for Tacoma Bike's Family Tea Party on Sunday.

I'm not in a huge hurry to build it because the kids don't seem to mind the rain that much. After weeks of drenching downpours, they were more than ready to brave a few showers to get in some laps on the sidewalk the other day - without fenders!

Wishing you all good health this season - Happy Thanksgiving!

15 November 2009


While I've been getting over the flu (likely the swiney variety), I've been using my car more. By 'more' I mean that I'm using the car for trips that I otherwise would have biked: grocery store, doctor office, pharmacy. I simply do not have the energy to ride more than the four blocks to the mail box. I've done the pre-school run on the Madsen only once in the last two weeks and it was struggle.

I've been glad that we are car-lite and that I have a car to fall back on during this time. No one wants the swine flu guy to sit next to them on the bus. But wouldn't it be better if we were electric car-lite?

Thanks to Sara at Full Hands for the tip on a new They Might Be Giants album for kids, Here Comes Science, which is available with full video. Here's my favorite track. My daughters and I love the whole album though.

09 November 2009

Catch Up

So...when I left off, my family and I were about to embark on a two week road trip to Oklahoma for my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. We chose to drive because it was cheaper, but it also allowed us to see friends and family and countryside along the way, do something new as a family, and keep the trip cost down. For those who care, the carbon footprint for the trip was roughly 60% of a trip by airplane.

The trip was great. Many questioned our sanity for taking a toddler and a pre-schooler on a 4,000+ mile adventure, but we really did have a blast. We visited eight states, two zoos, an aquarium, a solar-powered yurt, and a Mennonite-run Dairy Queen. For those parents considering a similar family outing, I offer two secrets to our success: a portable dvd player and a 2-lb bag of Dum Dum lollipops.

I did go on two bike rides in the Brighton, Colorado area, where a nearby water tower verified with a painted ring that I was indeed riding at the one-mile elevation mark. Pretty cool for someone who lives at 350 feet a.s.l.

The week after we returned home was spent finding our routine. I biked the kids to pre-school in the MADSEN and we prepared for Halloween. By Halloween night, all of the kids were sick. By Tuesday, the pre-school had reported two confirmed cases of H1N1 and my wife and I were starting to feel ill. Yep, TBR has the Swine Flu. On the up side, the whole family had it at the same time, the kids were over the rougher fever part very quickly, and it's been pouring buckets of rain the entire time so we've missed out on very little riding time. ;) On the down side, it's been physically brutal on these two 20-something parents. After seven days of fevers, coughing, and congestion, I'm exhausted.

Don't hesitate to keep your kids home from school if they are symptomatic and do your best to avoid crowded public places. Wash you hands often. We're already planning to do most of our holiday shopping online, which will help keep the fine folks at UPS busy. They've already started doing deliveries by bicycle in my neighborhood, like they did last year.