Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Car Free Diet

My hubby has started his own blog called "The Car Free Diet". Check it out.

Disclaimer: Although, we are married, we are not the same person. I may or may not agree with everything he says or blogs. I will enjoy reading anything he has to say and I hope you do to.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cycling to the EOH

The family cycled together to the U of I Engineering Open House today. Well, the almost 5 year old and 1 1/2 year old rode in the Chariot bike trailer, but the just turned 9 year old son rode his new bike from his birthday the almost 3 miles there and almost 3 miles back. He is learning how to ride defensively on the street. My husband had his bike with the little ones in the trailer in front, then our eldest son, then me pulling up the rear. It was good to watch how our son rides and what he needs to work on since riding in the street is often safer than riding on the sidewalk, but it takes practice (on sidewalks it is easy for cars to pull into driveways or out of driveways or turn down streets without ever seeing the cyclist). He is very cautious and good at looking for cars and staying to the right without getting into the curb or debris at the side of the road. He needs to work on getting a little more comfortable crossing streets, but this will come. It is good practice for us to all ride together. When I with by myself I keep him to the right of me, but I can't pay as close attention to him as I can when my husband is also with us. It was a nice day, sunny and in the high 30's when we left and possibly in the low 50's when we returned home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Out of Shape!

Lack of posts on this blog mean that I've been a shut-in without a car, going no where, seing no one, doing nothing...NOT! I just have been to busy and I've started several posts here and never finished them. I figured out the other day that we ride the bus on average 8 different times a week. That would be $16 dollars since Parker is usually with me for each ride so I feel we are definitely getting our money's worth. However, we may ride less as the weather warms up. Yesterday was completely a biking day for us because of the better weather. This highlighted to me what terrible shape I'm in.

When I was nine months pregnant with my youngest (now 1 1/2 years old) I was carrying my pregnant bod and my two boys (then 3 and 7) on my Xtracycle with our stuff and doing fine. Monday I biked 6 trips for a total of 8 miles... all them with at least one kid on the bike and pulling a bike trailer and some of them with 2 kids in the bike trailer and one in the Peapod on my Xtracycle. The bike trailer really slows things down, but is helpful when the weather is chilly in the morning to keep the kids warm or if we are expecting rain. We live in a area where most people would not see any hills, but for our town, we live on a "hill" and I could feel that yesterday since each trip ended at our house. I really need to get back into cycling shape if I'm going to be able to haul the kids around.

Today was rainy so we did some supplemental grocery shopping and a trip to the UFL via bus. It wasn't raining when we walked to the bus stop, but we just missed our bus so we walked further down the street and then waited and ended up getting soaked and the kids got very muddy, but it wasn't too cold so we were fine. I didn't need a lot of groceries so I brought 3 bags and distributed the weight among the boys and me (don't need the 1 1/2 year old to carry her weight yet since most of the time I'm carrying her).

We did a presentation for our homeschooling group this week on how to ride the bus, what it teaches children, and some of the benefits. The kids were excited about the presentation, but in the end my middle son was in a mood so he didn't say much. I'm always amazed at the people I meet who have NEVER ridden a city bus before...ever. Many people are intimidated by it.

Some of the skills kids (and adults can learn from riding the bus):

*Map reading. My dad would be so proud. He is a big map guy and I would tune out quite often as a child when he would show me maps for this reason or that. I just couldn't picture how all the lines and dots and things was meaningful to me who just wanted to experience it all. Well, very quickly as a young adult, I came to appreciate being able to read a map and find my way around. Traveling and experiencing life can be so much more fun if you have a map to find the places you want to go. My nine year old is showing a fondness for maps and enjoys figuring out what buses to take and how to get around town.
*Street names. This all goes along together really. When we are in the bus, even more so than walking or riding our bikes, we learn the street names. Many of the buses in our town announce the streets coming up. The kids like to pull the wire to tell the driver to stop so they pay close attention to the street names and where we are so they know when to pull.
*Directions. East, west, north, south comes to life when you are taking the bus. The buses in our town are colors and direction and we need to know what direction we are going to know which bus to take. The kids then are able to tell which way is what direction when we are standing in our house or on some street corner. They are many times quicker than I am in figuring out the direction.
*Time. Time is a hard concept for many children. A minute, a day, a month, a year. All hard to conceptualize. Not only does riding the bus help kids learn to tell time, it also helps them have a feeling for how long a half hour is or 10 minutes, etc.

More on the benefits of mass transit soon. (I know, you just cannot wait!!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes you run across strangers who are so kind that it renews your faith in humanity. Yesterday, I ran across such a person. Norma Jean was driving the 6 Orange West bus around 1pm Monday.

It was an off day anyway, but things were going okay until our ride home. I didn't have my eldest with me and I realized how much he helps. Without him, I carry everything...backpack, 2 lunch carriers, the 18 mo. old, any coats, hats, and gloves which come off during our ride on the bus, etc. It was cold and I wasn't sure if we missed the 6 Orange West so I hopped on the 4 Blue East knowing it was going to the Illinois Terminal so at the very least we could wait for the Orange in the warmth. As we were traveling, I noticed the 6 Orange West come up behind the Blue bus. I was on the phone with my husband who really needed to bike to work so he needed me to get home to be with our eldest. I knew I had to hurry to get off the bus I was on and jump on the bus which was currently behind me, but could be in front of me in a matter of seconds.

I got my wallet in hand to show my bus pass as I was getting of of the 4 Blue East bus around 1pm yesterday. My coat got stuck on the bus seat and we were in a hurry so I could catch the bus immediately behind us so I got my coat unstuck and hurried to the other bus...the wallet was gone. I told the bus driver on the 6 Orange West and she stopped the Blue bus driver so I could quickly look on the bus. It wasn't there...less than 1 minute after I had it in my hand. One of the other Blue passengers mumbled something about someone probably already picking it up, which I didn't stop to listen to because the kids were on Orange and I had to hurry back to them. The Orange driver was super sweet and helpful and she even caught up with the Blue bus later and got on and searched for me since the Blue driver refused to get out of his seat. The wallet was gone.

The Orange bus driver called me to find out if I had found the wallet and update me on her side of the search so I found out her name is Norma Jean. Even without my wallet, I was happy to have encountered such a sweet, kind stranger. She really made an awful situation much, much better. I appreciate her thoughtful help and the patience of the people riding the bus. I've let go of the wallet and canceled my credit card and debit card. I'm not worried about the cash or driver's license, but I mourn the loss of my bus pass and my son's. If I could just get those back, I would be happy, but I just have to let go.

Update: A couple hours after this post, a sweet police officer came to my door with my wallet...everything still in the wallet except the cash...happy day!!!!!!