30 May 2013

May #everydayonabike Review

Nearly half of the year is over. I can't quite believe it. Five whole months of riding (nearly) #everydayonabike. After a rough start to the season, spring has finally arrived. Although I haven't been able to ride everyday yet, I have significantly increased my daily mileage this month. Last month, I barely broke 100 miles for the entire month. This month, I easily broke 200 miles (223 total miles). I wasn't able to completely give up a car this month, but I got pretty close. Many weeks, I only got behind the wheel once or twice - usually to run errands outside of my biking comfort zone (less than 5 miles).

I did increase my biking bubble a bit for meetings this month. Typically, I drive to meetings that are over 5 miles from my house. This month, I rode to several meetings over 5 miles away and even trekked down to the University of Denver once (8 miles one way). I'm getting more comfortable riding longer distances and more familiar with the city's bike routes, which helps out on longer rides.

Here's the rundown for May:

63 total photos // 25 photos posted by me // 38 photos posted by others 
10 contributors // 27 out of 31 days on the bike // $52 in gas savings

Thanks to everyone who contributed this month!

@bemorelocal // @mrsweichbrodt // @runbobbierun // @obc_benson
@allmybrush // @emfritz // @timaides @simplybike // @claireelaine // @frauwein

The biggest challenge for me now is taking a picture everyday - riding everyday seems to be the easy part! Although I would love for June to be the first month that I ride everyday, out-of-state (and country) travel plans probably won't allow for that. 

28 May 2013

Memorial Day Weekender

What a whirlwind - and wonderful - weekend. Even though we had an extra day, we didn't get much down time.

Although the kids consistently wake up after 7 on weekdays, they have started waking up before 6:30 on weekends. As a result, we got an early start on our first camping trip of the year. We met Nate's parents and brother near Buena Vista in the Collegiate Peaks - one of my favorite areas of the state. There happened to be a paddle board festival at the river that runs through the city, so we all got to try out paddle boats and Benny went out on a kayak by himself!

Benny is a camping pro and has been for three out of five years of life. Lila is still getting the hang of it. She has some issues running away from us toward the river and walking too close to the fire. But, she'll get there. I'm sure of it. Going camping with Nate's family is also spoiling me. They have a pop up camper and I get to sleep inside with the kids.

We raced back home on Saturday so we could spend a few hours with some old friends from Iowa State who were in town for a wedding. Always good to see them. Nate dedicated most of yesterday to the deck, which means that I dedicated the day to hanging out with my kids and the neighbors' kids. The deck is coming along, but we have a substantial portion left to finish. We capped the weekend off with a BBQ with friends.

And now the house is a mess and I have a load of work to do. Here's to long weekends with friends and family. Happy (almost) summer!

23 May 2013

Nine. Whole. Years.

Many years ago, I received the best advice about marriage. A friend of the family shared that while marriage is great, it's also a lot of work. Every single day. At the time, I was nowhere near ready to marry. I hadn't even met Nate yet. But I tucked that piece of advice away and retrieve it on a pretty regular basis.

Being married to Nate is great. I love him and I even like him. But marriage has been a lot of work. Every single day. We share many things - viewpoints, ideas, passions. But we disagree too. And I think that's healthy. Like most married couples, we could do better at communicating with each other. We could be more considerate to each other.

Yesterday, we celebrated nine years of being married. Although I think it's more important to note that we've been together for nearly 13 years! Anniversaries are a nice time to reflect on the year and the relationship. Every year, I'm happy to be sharing this life of mine with Nate. He makes me laugh. He is a wonderful father. He cares about his family. He likes to have a good time. But most importantly, he's the best kind of person to have in my corner. He is supportive. And when the going gets tough, he is my rock. 

Happy anniversary, Nate. We have created a meaningful life with each other and our two greatest achievements, Benny and Lila, bring us joy every single day. I couldn't ask for a better partner.

20 May 2013

Deck the House

After several weeks of preparation, we started on the deck this weekend. Nate has been so committed to getting this project done. He's prepped the house and area after work and on the weekends. As part of this project, we replaced the gutters and trim on the house. Nate removed the old gutters and replaced the trim. He's been digging post holes for what seems like forever.

But, Nate, his dad and a friend down the street made significant progress. And it looks amazing. Poor Nate will have to commit a few (many) more hours to the project, but it will all be worth it when we're drinking gin basil smashers on the deck this summer!

When Nate and I first looked at the house over five years ago, we could see a deck in the space where the patio lived. The L-shape of the house nestles the deck perfectly. And we can access it from the kitchen, which is something most older homes are not equipped for.

Notice the new gutters and paint? I think it looks really sharp, even if it's not a big change. Eventually, steps will wrap around the front of the deck and a landing will be placed in front of the kitchen door. We'll also install pergola.

It was a long weekend for everyone, including the kids. But they had a good time "helping" where they could. The loved measuring the wood and drawing on it. That made the weekend relatively easy for me too. While Nate worked, we rode all over town to gather food and libations for the fellas. Not the worst way to spend a weekend. Not at all.

15 May 2013

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

After reading several "dark" and serious books for book club over the past few months, we decided to go with something lighter. The subject matter in Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is certainly not light, but Semple has an uncanny way to write about it in a lighthearted way.

The book was really easy to read because it was organized in a novel way - through letters, emails, faxes (yes, faxes) and some narration. As the title indicates, Bernadette has gone missing. As we learn, it's for a variety of reasons.

Thinking about many of the books I've read over this year, I'm surprised about a common theme: So many of them address mental health in some way. In the Girl on Fire, a mother deals with paralyzing depression. In The Round House, a family deals with depression after a horrific event. In Where'd You Go, Bernadette, a family deals with a mother's social anxiety. It's also interesting that all of the books about women (and specifically mothers) whose mental health is impacted by serious and tragic events in their lives.

As someone who has dealt with a mental health issue, it's an interesting component of our culture that is rarely written about in a way that reduces stigma. I have more thoughts on the subject, but not nearly enough time to address them.

14 May 2013

Oops I Did It Again

I just used a Britney Spears reference. And I'm not ashamed of it. (OK, I'm a little ashamed of it.)

Somehow I've signed myself up for something big. It all started innocently enough - a friend of a friend mentioned that the annual Viva Streets event was moving from Park Hill this year. 


Viva Streets is a fantastically fun event during which the city shuts down a major thoroughfare and opens it to pedestrians and bikes for one day. For the past two years, LiveWell Colorado has hosted the event in Park Hill on 23rd Street. Last year, the street was packed for most of the day and it was so fun to see so many people out and about without having to worry about cars.

LiveWell is committed to introducing the concept to other neighborhoods in Denver. And for good reason. But, I was sad and disappointed that it won't be in my neighborhood this summer. So, like an idiot, I posted something on the neighborhood Facebook page. And suddenly I'm organizing the first planning meeting for a Park Hill Viva Streets this summer.

Between consulting commitments, teaching commitments and now this, I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed. As a result, I've decided to cut back on the blog for the summer. It's a reverse hibernation. I'll still post updates about #everydayonabike and the occasional family posting, but I'm certainly going to cut back on garden and food posts for the time being. But if the event ends up happening, you better believe I'll post about that too!

13 May 2013

Mother's Day 2013

My kids are lucky. They are so lucky that I have an amazing mom who has taught me so much about unconditional love, thoughtfulness and appreciating children. My mom's children are now all over 30, but she still thinks of us as her kids - and she will never stop.

My mom has always been my biggest supporter and coach. I never appreciated her enough when she was just my mom. But now that I'm a mom, I realize how much she sacrificed for her kids, how much she loved us unconditionally, how she would have done anything and everything for us. And I appreciate her so much more. She is the most amazing grandmother to my kids (and all of her grandkids). My kids absolutely adore her.

My Mother's Day weekend started off right with a playdate/happy hour with some of my favorite moms from school. The kids all got along (for the most part) while we sipped rose on the patio. On Saturday, we checked out a new restaurant in the neighborhood and I discovered that I love potato pancakes. Nate and I rode our bikes to a friend's birthday dinner 7 miles away (much to Nate's chagrin), which meant that Benny and Lila got to spend the night with one of their favorite babysitters.

I requested a low-key Mother's Day. With all the house work we've been doing, it felt good to stay at home and work in the yard. We took a break for a picnic in the park and finished off the day with Nate's famous beer can chicken and salad greens from our garden.

My favorite moment of the weekend? Benny couldn't wait to give me the gift he made me at school. As soon as I woke up on Saturday (not Sunday), he handed me a paper bag. He made me a lovely bird house. He spent the better part of 30 minutes telling me exactly why he chose to decorate the house like he did. I love it. It's so fun to be Benny's and Lila's mom.

10 May 2013

Bike to School Day 2013

It just occurred to me today that a Bike to School Day is probably happening soon. Turns out, it was scheduled for Wednesday, May 8. Lucky for us, nearly every day is a bike to school day. I don't have any photos of Wednesday's ride, but I do distinctly remember that the bike racks were at capacity and I nearly took a picture of them. It made me so happy to see so many bikes at school.

On Wednesday I did bike to the University of Denver for the first time, so I guess I did it on an appropriate day. The ride was a total of 16 miles round trip and it was relatively easy (light traffic, few hills). I'll definitely be riding to teach more often.

Bike to Work Day is scheduled for June 26 in Denver. I've never had the opportunity to participate, so this year I'm definitely scheduling a meeting away from my home office so I can get in on the action.

I'm also working on organizing a Walking School Bus for Benny and his friends in the neighborhood next year. It's a simple concept - two or more families take turns walking their children to school. It can be as small or as large as needed. The Bike Train is another organized way to get to school - and we already do that on occasion. The only catch? Lila's daycare is two blocks away from Benny's school, so I'd have to make my way there three days a week anyway.

07 May 2013

Suddenly, It's Spring

Birds are chirping, the sun is out, the high is above 55. By golly, I think spring has finally arrived! And just in time. I was getting really, really sick of winter. We have been busy, busy preparing for good weather. Yard clean up, new gutters, new painted trim. All of this work to install a deck in two weeks. It's going to be amazing.

I have been planting flowers and Nate has been planting veggies. A week ago, I transplanted no less than 50 iris bulbs from the area where the deck will be to the beds in the front of the house (that we desperately want to get rid of, but can't quite justify yet).

The trim and the gutters will match after next weekend - a nice forest green. And the garden, which is already producing!

And now that the weather is cooperating, I'm finding that the more I  ride, the more confident I get about riding. See how that works? Prior to #everydayonabike, I wouldn't ride more than 5 miles away from my house and would never consider riding downtown or to the southern part of the city. But, as I've become more familiar with Denver's vast network of bike paths, lanes and routes, I'm increasingly comfortable in expanding my radius of riding and testing new directions. As a result, I've been riding to new areas of the city and increasing my daily miles. For example, today I tested out a new route that will allow me to ride to a standing monthly meeting about 6.5 miles away. I was reluctant to ride to these meetings before because I didn't like the bike route that Google naps suggests. So, I plotted a new route. It adds about a mile to the overall trip, but the sense of security is worth it!

Tomorrow, I have my biggest challenge yet: Ride to the University of Denver (a 16-mile round trip) in the morning and then to an event across town in the evening (a 10-mile round trip). When the day is done, I hope to have ridden nearly 30 miles in one day. So glad it's finally spring!