Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Walking the Garden

Both kids are in camp this week. Rose is gone from 9:15 to 2:00 each day at Young Peoples Theater Workshop - a wonderful theater camp put on by the Northfield Arts Guild. Ryan is at Science camp this week from 9:00 until noon. While it appears the camp schedule allows me some time to work, reality is that I spend a lot of time driving to and from town to get the kids.

Today, though, I have the morning at home and some time to myself before I head back to town to get Ryan. I thought I was going to have the morning free to work but we have people coming over for dinner so I need to at least clean off the kitchen counters and wipe off the patio table. I'd also like to prepare some food, fold the laundry and, oh yes, do some work in my office. Did I mention that I only have an hour and fifteen minutes to do all this (and take a shower) before I need to head back into town? I wonder why I set impossible goals for myself. Perhaps I need to slow down or set different kinds of goals - like biking a hundred miles at a charity ride like the Jesse James Bike Tour. Or sitting still long enough to read a book this summer.

Despite my big plans and motivation to get things done in my little block of time, I got home and realized what I really want to do is walk around in my garden. Rose and I refer to this as "walking the garden." It's a time when we pretty much just walk around and look at the plants. Sometimes we find bees buzzing on plants, spider webs stretched across the arbor. Sometimes we pick a bloom or two or just gaze at the pretty flowers. Once in awhile walking the garden results in planting something or pulling a few weeds but most of the time walking the garden simply gives us a bit of rest in the hurry of our day.

I'm hoping the friends who are coming over tonight won't notice the clutter too much. I can clean later - or not at all. Right now I'd like to walk my garden. So I will.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Birthday my Little Rosie

My daughter, Rose, turned eleven on Sunday. I could get all sentimental and tell you about the day she was born or how I made up a little birthday song that I've been singing it to her - but I won't.  I need to go to bed, really, and if I start writing about my daughter and reminiscing and all that I'll be up all night and will likely end up in tears.
Rose on her 11th Birthday.

But I will write a bit about Rose and her Birthday because I feel like doing it. I'll just write a bit. I promise. I'll even talk about bicycling (!) and I'll stick to the facts, mostly, so I don't get all weepy. Though I am prone to crying so we'll see how this goes...

Rose (in dark green, front and center) and her friends with their paintings

Rose had six friends over on Friday evening for a Painting Party led by artist Carla Thomspon at the Northfield Arts Guild. They painted and laughed and had fun. Each girl painted a scene on a block of wood - and every one was a beautiful piece of art! Rose's had a red bird with the word "Sing" below it. I joined in on the fun and painted a block, too, and gave it to Rose as a surprise gift. Mine was of a yellow bird and the words below it were "Little Bird." Rose hung the two on her wall side by side so together they say, "Sing Little Bird."
My painting and Rose's. Imagine them hanging next to each other.
On her wall Rose's is on the left and mine on the right so they, together, say "Sing Little Bird"

After painting we all walked to a pizza place for dinner and then drove back to our house for a sleepover. The girls didn't sleep much. They ate a lot of food, giggled, listened to music and ran around the yard half the night. I guess that's what you do at sleepovers - have fun! Other than reminding them to go to turn off the lights at 12:30 the girls pretty much took care of themselves and I realized during the party that Rose doesn't need me as much as she used to. Realizing this, though I was proud to see how much she's grown, also made me kind of sad. What happened to the little girl who needed me so much? Who used to be scared to venture out on her own?

We rested a lot on Saturday after the girls went home. We all needed it. On Sunday, the day of her actual birthday, Rose wanted to bike the Cannon Valley Trail and get ice cream in Welch. So we loaded the bikes and headed for the Trail. I think we were all tired from the lack-of-sleep-sleepover so the ride felt a little slow for all of us. Rose even ended up with a nosebleed on the trip and got blood on her new bicycling jersey - this made her kind of sad - but all in all it was a great family ride and we rode 22 miles!
Rose, Owen and Ryan on the Cannon Valley Trail

Rose set the pace for most of the ride. She said she was a sprinter in the Tour de France. Ryan, riding the Trail-A-Bike behind Owen's hybrid, said he was drafting in the Tour and acted all grown up for most of the ride. But when I rode up next to him he reached out his hand and ask me to hold it while we biked along. He did this several times on our ride and said that we had a secret since Owen and Rose were ahead of us and no one else could see us holding hands.

Ryan still needs me, I guess. And I suppose Rose does, too. After all, I helped her with her nosebleed, handed her tissues, held her nose until the bleeding stopped. I helped her climb a hill so she could see the secret field along the trail, a field that she found on our first long family ride. And I help her with other things every day. But after I help her she heads off, often acting like she doesn't need me at all.

Rose. On her bike. Setting the pace. On the Cannon Valley Trail.

There are so many questions I have about parenting - especially about parenting my daughter who is so much like me. How do I  help Rose be strong and independent as she enters middle school? And then what about high school? How much should I push her? How much should I let her find their own way? What can I do to help Rose as she grows up and heads out into the world and life on her own?

I don't know the answers. I'm probably going to screw things up time and time again.

But here's something I do know - no matter how old she is or how much she acts like she does or does not need me - Rose is still my little Rosie. She'll always be my little girl.

Happy Birthday my Little Rosie. Happy Birthday my little girl.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dates with a Biker

I’ve been on two dates with a biker in the last three days. No, I'm not talking about a motorcycle kind of biker I'm talking about a bicyclist kind of biker - my husband Owen. 
I’m not sure what it says about us, that we get a sitter to watch the kids and instead of heading out for a romantic dinner or out to see a movie we load our bikes in the van and head to the Cannon Valley Trail for a bike ride. But that’s what we did on Thursday - we arranged for a sitter just so we could ride our bikes. And you know what? A bike ride date is something I’d like to do again.
Why a ride on the Cannon Valley Trail instead of a ride on the roads near our home? Well, I’ve been wanting to get out on my road bike for a ride of 20 miles or so to see how my new saddle feels on longer rides. I didn’t want to ride the hilly roads near our home and have to work hard, I simply wanted a nice flat piece of trail so I could just pedal away and see how the saddle and I got along. 
Owen and I got on the trail around 7:00 p.m. with a goal to ride 20 miles. I drafted a lot of the way and we kept up a decent pace despite the dozens of bunnies we had to avoid and the deer that crossed our trail. At our halfway point I told Owen I wanted to keep going because I realized we could ride 28 miles and make my 50 miles a week goal, a goal I haven’t met since I made it several weeks ago. It was a lovely night to ride and along the way Owen introduced me to doing intervals - we would sprint at about 20 mph for about a minute - I kind of enjoyed them. 

When we got back to our van we had pedaled 28.2 miles in just over 2 hours - our average nearly 14 mph. I didn’t feel sore, not 100% comfortable, mind you, but I felt pretty good for having biked 28 miles. And guess what? I've come a long way since I started riding with Owen - I didn't swear at him once ;)
Today the kids stayed home on their own for a couple of hours and me and the biker headed out on a date again. This time we just had to stop at Fit to Be Tri’d, a fitness gear store in Northfield. Our daughter, Rose, turns eleven tomorrow and has her eyes on a cute bicycling jersey at the store so we stopped in to get it for her. While there Owen found a new cycling jersey as well. But best of all - we settled in, talked to the owner, Tom, for awhile and watched a replay of some of the Tour de France that he was showing. Watching a bike race on a date is a first for me. And for Owen, too - at least as far as I know :) We had fun.
I guess biking dates aren’t that romantic but we do talk a lot when were riding together. That’s worth something! Plus it’s hard to fight when we’re riding our bikes or out watching the Tour de France in public. More good reasons for biking dates. I think we should go on many more.
But just to balance things out a bit we are getting a sitter and heading out to dinner and a play with another couple next week. It will be, I hope, a night of relaxation, good conversation, laughter  and fun. And, who knows? maybe romance, too. After all, Owen’s looking pretty swell after all this biking. You should see his legs. I’ve been drafting behind him for weeks now and they are looking pretty good! ;)

My view when I'm drafting behind Owen. Not bad. 
Picture creatively cropped in homage to my friend, Cassi (@morebikes)
who takes absolutely fabulous pictures
and keeps a wonderful blog at: 
Go there. It will be well worth your time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

22 + 100 = One Proud Kid (and mom)

I can’t believe we are almost to the weekend and I haven’t written about our biking fun from last weekend. I could give you a day-by-day play-by-play but it would get too long. Here are a a couple of highlights instead...
We had a chance to take in some bike racing on Sunday - No, we weren’t watching Stage 1 of the Tour de France live, we were in Northfield, Minnesota watching the 11th annual Northfield Criterium bike races that take place in our town every 4th of July. Cayman, one of the guys from Valley Bike & Ski, saw us there and came over to talk to us and tell us a bit about what was going on. His behind the scenes knowledge helped us enjoy the races even more and we had a lot of fun!
Cruising down Division Street
Northfield 4th of July Criterium Races

After the races we took our bikes over to the Mill Town Trail that connects Northfield and Dundas and rode to one end and back for a total of six miles. Ryan rode the Trail-a-Bike, Rose her bike and Owen and I our hybrids. It was a great little ride. We ended the night with a great show of 4th of July fireworks put on by our neighbors. 
Owen didn't work Monday so we decided to join another family and hit the Cannon Valley Trail. Ryan insisted on riding his own bike. I was a little skeptical, our proposed route was 20 miles and he’s never gone that far on his own bike before. But he was determined so we decided to let him do it and hope for the best. It was a most awesome ride! The kids led the way somewhat loudly announcing our “train” of bikes to everyone we met along the trail. We sang songs. We talked. We stopped to eat Clif Bars and Shot Roks and the kids pedaled on and on and never complained. Soon we were at our halfway point and diverted 1/3 mile into the tiny town of Welch for ice cream.  Our trip back was a bit slower, Ryan was obviously tiring and so were the rest of us, but everyone kept their spirits up and kept pedaling and the miles breezed on by.
The kids enjoy awesome ice cream comes at our rest stop at the Trout Scream Cafe in Welch.
Along the way Ryan realized, much like I did last Friday, that his odometer had turned over to a big number - 100 miles! Rose noticed that her odometer had also passed up the 100 mile mark. That’s 100 Miles of Fun for both kids since they got their bikes a couple of months ago! Yay - here’s hoping for hundreds of miles more.
We ended up logging 22 miles and all felt like we accomplished something big by the end - we rode all that way in the heat and still had fun! We celebrated with a picnic lunch - indoors and out of the heat -  a perfect finish to a great 4th of July weekend.
Looking back I’m so glad we let Ryan ride his own bike. I was so worried he would get too tired to make it the whole way, worried that he wouldn’t have fun, that he would hold up the rest of the group. He must know his own strength better than I do because he actually set the pace for a lot of the ride and, with the determination of an eight-year-old who doesn’t want to be left behind, rode strong and well. Sure, he was tired by the end of the ride but when I see him pedaling those 22 miles in my mind he’s riding his tiny 6 speed Trek MT60 as proudly as if he was riding a Trek for Team Radio Shack in the Tour de France.  You know what? As his mom I couldn’t have been prouder of him if he had. 

Ryan after his 22 mile ride.

Friday, July 2, 2010

300 Miles of Fun!

I went out to ride this morning with the simple goal of riding more than 5 miles.  I've done three, 5 mile rides on this new saddle (the Serfas Curva) and have felt pretty good but know I need to increase my ride length to see if I have any soreness on longer rides. For this morning, I figured 8 to 10 miles would do especially since I have to leave the kids home alone when I hit the roads. Rose is almost eleven and good at watching her brother but Ryan recently learned how to start grass on fire by channeling the sun through his magnifying glass. Though he knows he's not supposed to do this without adult supervision I think it's wisest of me to limit the time I'm away on sunny days. You just never know what an 8 year old boy might do.

Ryan trying to start a fire. Part of the reason I don't go on long rides when the kids are home alone.

So with a final reminder to the kids to behave, I set out to ride the roads around my home. It was windy, not the best day for riding as the gusts threatened to knock me off my bike a time or two. Still, it felt good to be on my bike. I rode east, opposite of the direction I usually go, got up and out of the saddle to pedal up a long hill, and felt good and strong.

At one point on my ride I looked at my odometer and realized that I had about three miles to go and the total miles on my bike would register over 300. I smiled and pedaled faster. I love it when odometers click over to a big number. On my cars it's always 100,000 miles (and all of my cars have made it to 100,000 and then some. My van has 161,000+ already). On a bike, well, for me I think any increment of a hundred is worth celebrating.

When the odometer clicked over to 300 I yelled out a "yes" and smiled from ear to ear. Then I kind of cried a little. I do that. The 300 miles are a big deal for me because a couple of weeks ago when I was hit with my soreness and bruising I didn't think I'd be able to ride at all. But I am. And last year I rode 300 miles for the whole season and here I've hit 300 by the 2nd of July. Yay!

And you know what? All 300 miles on my bike have been spent outside in the fresh air instead of inside in front of the TV or my computer. At an average speed of 12 miles per hour I've exercised for 25 hours (plus the hours I've logged on my hybrid) and I'm feeling pretty fit. One of my friends even noted that I'm getting really muscular legs! And although those 300 miles have included some pain and frustration, the majority of them have been fun. That's almost 300 miles of fun. You know what? I'm just going to erase those miles of pain and frustration and think of all 300 miles as fun. Yep, that's the way I'm going to think of it. 300 miles of FUN!