instant gramming

December 1, 2012

Bikes! Bikes! Bikes!

Here is a pretty creative sideways view of Ellie rocking her balance bike down the hallway. She has been rolling around on this thing every waking moment since we bought it yesterday. It was pretty much an impulse buy--I couldn't resist it--which was easy to cave into considering the price was $13. These things usually run $50, up to $100. This particular model is the Chicco "Red Bullet" bike and I wouldn't have bought it if it was much more. Then again, Ellie is all about this and I've been super proud about how much she is enjoying it. This video shows Ellie's skill level after using it for almost 2 days at 32 months old (a.k.a. 2-years-and-8-months). I can't wait to post her improvements after a year... Maybe on the mountain bike trails...

November 29, 2012

Let the Holi-daze begin

I like the anticipation of holidays, especially the Big Three that fall in the last three months of the year. (You know what they are. Don't make me say it.) These might be my favorite because, unlike the more political holidays, they have pretty deep roots in human history while also involving lots of prep and grandeur.

Well, this year, now that Ellie is getting bigger and is beginning to understand holiday traditions, we decided to buy our first family tree and bust out our collections of ornaments that haven't seen the light of day for a few years (after we inherited them from our parents).

This morning, it became painfully obvious that Christmas decorations can't be much different from toys--and anything would be treated as such. Emery, wanting to play her favorite game of fetch with Alden, made an effort to pitch a glass ornament--straight down at the hardwood floor as she is apt to do. Smash.  As if to make a point, Ellie purposefully smashed another ball shaped ornament minutes later. Sweet.

I was pretty disappointed and by mid-morning packed up most of those "heirloom" ornaments back in their boxes for another decade, keeping a few choice---F*CK! Ellie just disassembled another one...

So, I guess if anything gets up on the tree it will be some dolls and maybe some rubber blocks.

For now, I'm streaming some pretty cheesy Christmas music station on the internet and keeping the holiday spirit alive.

October 4, 2012

a review: the burley encore

Earlier this year I got excited about warm weather and the fact that our youngest daughter was getting close to that One Year tally mark that signifies, above all else, an appropriate age to be strapped in a seat with wheels that travels 15 miles per hour in a relatively bumpy fashion while wearing a helmet. What with having two of these young'ns, a bike trailer was the way to go.  After hours of deep consternation, pouring through internet reviews, images, and videos, I had narrowed my choices to those of the Burley variety.  Coincidentally, our neighbors had a new (2012) Burley Encore AND a two-year old they were willing to lend me.  So with their kid and one of mine all strapped up, we set off on a ride around the block. Ellie enjoyed it. That's all I needed to know. I decided we would go with the same model, as reviews of the more expensive deluxe model (the D'Lite) were mixed and I'd rather keep the difference.

Well, this thing has been a treat. It's light weight, has a good amount of storage capacity, and has made my life better. The handlebar that folds forward to double as a roll bar offers me some peace of mind and adds to the perception of it's safety.  The large 20" wheels appear to offer a fairly stable, cushy ride for the girls.  Granted, our two kids are young (14 months and 29 months) and small, and they don't seem to mind being in such close quarters, but they are pretty much shoulder-to-shoulder.  My one complaint is really that, at such a young age and short stature, my daughters' helmets get pushed forward by the back of the seat. This accounts for the most common reason for fussiness between them.

Our ride to the nearest park is maybe 5 minutes by bike path. It also enables us to get to another cool park about 1.5 miles away without having to drive. Lately, as summer temperatures have cooled a bit, I've set out on a couple longer rides to the grocery store.  That trip turns out to be about 4.5 miles, round trip, exclusively on a bike path.  I'd say I fit about 3 canvas bags full of groceries in the rear storage area of the trailer.  There is a lot more vertical space back there, it just get's tricky trying to stack groceries.

In the past two weeks my two-year-old has fallen asleep in the trailer twice. I think that is about the best compliment a trailer could receive.  Big ups to Burley.

August 26, 2012

Ride days, not miles

I've been trying to log a few nano-miles on my bike whenever I find a chance. I thought to look at the total odometer reading on my (inconsistently used) computer. Looks like I've logged 1,341 miles since 2009. Is that right? I don't know.

In Grant Petersen's book Just Ride, he recommends this: "I think there are better things to count, such as minutes, elevation, or days. Minutes add up quickly, and if you ride slowly, you get more minutes per mile... When you count a day, you check it off whether you ride five minutes or five hours. I rode my bike today!"

This has become pretty important to me, and a good way to stay grounded. If I ride my bike on a day--to the park with the girls; to work; to the grocery or around the block to drop off mail--I am pretty pumped.

August 21, 2012

August 19, 2012

a few favorite memories to start

It's the morning after we've arrived home from our trip to the Great Southwest and I'm anxious to throw a couple photos out to the world. Here they are in their currently unedited glory:

Los Poblanos Ranch, Albuquerque, NM

Hiking the Foothills of McDowell
Almost 10 years before, C and I were new friends heading home from a backpacking trip in AZ, taking a photo in this exact spot

Hiking Pinnacle Peak
Xeriscape Garden in Scottsdale, AZ
New friend, 3-year-old Annabelle, showed us how cool it is to float in a tube; El took it to the next level with this Maximum Chill

August 13, 2012

No justice

These pictures are crap compared to even the view out of our moving car as we drive through Sedona

August 12, 2012

My girls

Wowie, it doesn't get more serene than this: my loves enjoying a morning stroll at sunrise. Los Poblanos Ranch, facing the Sandia mountain range. 

Photo Essay 1: vacation travel, first plane ride

Friday morning, 4AM: last-minute packing of babies' bed things and toys, and loading of the car in unexpected rain. I dropped of the girls at the airport terminal with the luggage and doubled back to the long-term, outdoor parking lot. I unloaded the girls' car seats and my carry-on (in the rain) and loaded them onto the shuttle. In that time I managed to lose our car keys. I travelled to the terminal to check in and quickly hurried back to find out if our car was unlocked or if our keys were on the ground to be found. Neither was the case. That was the start to our first big family vacation. Also, while waiting for our first flight at 5:30AM, Ellie was saying very frantically and audibly, "No want to get on plane! My want to go home in car!"

Fast forward to New Mexico, at the rental car plaza where we were to pick up our pre-arranged vehicle for the next eight days. Here we found ourselves with one license that had expired nearly one month ago (mine) and one that would expire within the next six days (Carlyn's). That meant we wouldn't be renting a car, and the attendant was kind enough to volunteer her opinion that we probably wouldn't be allowed to fly home on our return trip. Sweet. In a moment of panic, C convinced herself that we would be stuck homeless in New Mexico for the next two months. Not sure how she reached that conclusion, but I, too, was internally a bit panicked and considering arrangements for an immediate return to Ohio via a bus.

Long story short, all has worked out, despite inconveniences to us and moreso to those around us. The place where we settled ourselves, Los Poblanos Inn & Cultural Center was an amazing haven which afforded us what we needed to find some relaxation, comfort, and a refreshing outlook on Life.

I'm writing this from the car en route to Arizona and am pretty bummed we had to leave Los Poblanos. Though I have the hope that we'll return to that place one day again...

Chaos ensued

August 9, 2012


This may be the "trenta" sized iced coffee talking, but I'm freaking excited about the vacation that starts tomorrow morning. Our first family flight will take us to far away places that are warm. More to come

August 6, 2012

July 14, 2012


Remember that time we took a bunch of photos in the 70s? Here's the proof. I joined Instagram after C (and everyonr else) started pulling amazing looking pics out of their butts, I mean camera phones. I'll post up a link to my page later. Woop!

July 11, 2012

Back to School: Shit Just Got Real

Today I registered as a new student in a post-Bachelors teaching degree program. It's not undergrad, it's not graduate school level. It's between that. I'm a meta-grad student. I've had this on my radar for months but this morning I was freaking out.

I like people to tell me what to do. When left to my own devices I go do something unproductive like ride my bike or whatever. But if C asks me to do something I'm on it. Or if, in high school, somebody was like, "Go to college and do this," I probably would have. But no. People were all, "What do you like? Do what you like." And since at the time skateboarding wasn't too promising, I picked the next best thing: Biology, the study of life. How cool is that? Life is great. Life is animals and crazy ass insects, and blood and guts, and plants that do crazy shit, and so on. It was great. Then I had to do something with it. Ecology. Awesome. Graduation came and then I had to do something with this degree. Environmental Consulting? Sure. It fell in my lap. Well, five years, one baby, and a growing fetus later, I finally realized it was time to quit a job that really chewed up and spit out my spirit. And it didn't pay well or provide any sort of benefits whatsoever.

A couple years down the road and you find me, today, registering for classes to become a teacher. I keep suppressing the anger (or disappointment) that is sloshing around inside of me for having not figured this out sooner. But here I am, ready to move forward. This summation totally ignores the time I've spent at home with our girls as the stay-at-home parent, which has been the coolest, most rewarding thing I've ever done in my life. That reason alone reconciles the problem of quitting a bad job and needing to find another career path. These issues have afforded me a chance to bond with my daughters in a way I never imagined. I'm not saying I'm good at what I'm doing now, but it is teaching me a ton.

But this morning I really started freaking out; about tuition costs and the stress that will be placed on my family over the next three years. I know we'll make it work but it's a stress I can't avoid any longer.

Keep posted--but don't hold your breath. We're in for the long haul

July 5, 2012

Holidays, Excitement

This video is a tiny excerpt from our conversation with Ellie last night before "bedtime," just after watching our town's firework display from the end of our driveway. It's a long one but I'm glad we caught a bit of Ellie's hilarious ranting which is something I want to look back on forever. The volume is low, so crank it up. You can hear me say "I love you, El" a couple times, at around 02:30 and 02:50, which was my weak attempt at shutting down the conversation and wrapping up the video, but Ellie keeps on trucking. So we kept rolling.

June 27, 2012

Rivendell - good reminders about riding bikes

It's been a while since I looked up the Rivendell Bicycle Works website, but recently I did and it made me happy. This shop seems to be built around a philosophy that riding a bike is not complicated, can be done by anyone in anyway, and is fun. Or should be. The stuff sold by Rivendell has a very old school, classic, almost European style. Leather and tweed and steel are the materials of choice and harken back to a simpler time. There are a lot of articles posted up with tips and thoughts about a wide variety of things and one that stood out was "How to Make the Rest of Your Family Hate Riding." Included in the bullet-ed list were these tips:

  • Buy them upscale bikes, and remind them how expensive they are. The guilt they’ll feel for not appreciating them is a fantastic motivator.
  • Make sure they know that expensive bikes make hard hills easy, so when they’re struggling, they’ll think it’s them, and work harder to improve.
  • Force them to wear lycra shorts and jerseys. This will reinforce how easy and natural it is to just hop on a bike and ride somewhere.
I showed C those first two and she smiled because she realized, as I did, that I've been trying to convince her she needs an upscale bike. (That's not necessarily true, I just believe she needs a better bike than the heavy, poor-fitting, abused bike she currently owns.) It's true, however, that I've been pushing an upscale bike largely because of my employee discount; and it's true that she doesn't need an expensive bike considering she has very little enthusiasm about riding, at least relative to my own obsession. 

Anyway, I find myself around young guys without their own families and a shit-ton of disposable income and free time. What that allows is big stable of expensive bikes with carbon fiber this and lightweight that. And I'm constantly comparing myself to them. It sucks. It's hard to remove myself from it. It's also hard to be surrounded by "nice" (expensive) bikes all the time and not yearn to have one for myself. It's also hard to not feel that having a certain bike would allow me to do all sort of cool things (i.e. tour across America, or win a road race, or become some sort of amazing, fast, balls-y mountain biker), because the reality is I ride my road bike 0.2 miles to work or to the grocery or to pull the bike trailer and I ride my mountain bike pretty slowly and timidly on nearby trails. That's not to sound too self deprecating, because I always enjoy the riding I do, but it's to point out that I don't need an aggressive road racing bike or a crazy spec'd-out mountain rig. I just need the right tool for the job. Something to pick up a couple pizzas when it's time; to haul our girls to the library, pool, or park; and something that won't break when I misjudge an obstacle on the local singletrack trail.

June 22, 2012

Jessica Love Photography

I've been pretty pumped to have a sister who is an amazing photographer, who can document special events or moments in our lives--but now that we have kids, this talent has become invaluable and has provided us with some killer photos of memories we will cherish forever. Check out the latest post on Jessica Love Photography's blog, and while you're there stay a while and look around. Awesomeness. Thanks Jess!

June 20, 2012

Father's Day - remembered

I briefly considered making it a goal to write a blog post about my reflections on fatherhood and the happenings of the day on Father's Day this past Sunday. But that didn't happen. Why? Because sometimes I decide if it doesn't need to be done I'm not going to do it. But sometimes when something sounds great, I'll hop to it. Like making French toast for Father's Day breakfast. It was AMAZING. Apparently I'm the only one that thought so, but I appreciate that my family let me make a breakfast they didn't want to eat.

C kept probing to see if I would prefer to go biking or if there was anything I wanted to do. I really didn't want to go ride a bike by myself--the thought of it was ridiculous. I'm not sure it occurred to me ever before, but on this day I decided Father's Day was going to be a day full of being a dad. That included making a big ass breakfast, like my Dad would do on weekends when I was growing up. He would make some killer waffles or blueberry pancakes and bacon, and maple syrup would flow like rivers.

At the table I received the coolest gift ever: a book--literally, a professionally bound, glossy, legit book--of a story about "Daddy's Best Day" with pictures from the past year. In it C had written a story about a day where the girls and I do all the things I enjoy, including mountain biking and doing graffiti and drinking coffee. I can hardly do it justice. Best gift ever. C really set the bar high this time.

I even got a card designed by Ellie to be hung in my "bike shop" in the garage. Per Ellie's specifications it is adorned with cut out shapes of circles and triangles, Foofa is on it, and it says "Love You." Perfect.

The rest of the day was about hanging out with my family. Yes, it's true I like my personal time, probably more than ever. Biking has become hugely important to me, as you've probably noticed. I am even happy to zone out on the computer and sipping hot coffee. True. Father's Day, however, was not going to be about me chilling by myself. It seemed best to be a time to celebrate the gift of having awesome daughters and being an excuse to eat crazy good cupcakes that C made as decadent as possible.

June 7, 2012

Dream Come True

I'm only slightly bummed I don't have a picture from Tuesday evening when C and I, together, took our girls on a bike ride. We loaded up the trailer--this was Emery's first trip--and attached it to the Surly. C took the helm of the child-mover; I rode the mountain bike. The weather was cool and the sun was setting. We opted for this pre-bed ride instead of the nightly bath. We probably weren't gone for more than 20 minutes, circling the quiet blocks around our house, but it couldn't have been more perfect. In fact, I was stunned to realize how good looking (read: sexy) C was with her thick, curly hair under her teal skater-style helmet, pedaling casually on a rad road bike, pulling our two perfect daughters. I didn't make an effort to pull out the phone/camera as I was just happy to be in the moment and knew this was the first of many rides together. I even mentioned to C that this ride was a "dream come true." Really, it was. I've been waiting for a family ride since we talked about having a baby for the first time. To read that sentence sounds a little silly, as I've had many more, larger dreams about the future of our family; but to ride bikes together as a family--as environmentally-friendly, self-sufficient transportation, as a tool for self-realization and awareness of our surroundings, as exercise--is still a big piece to this puzzle we're putting together.

I keep giving C a hard time about not caring about getting a road bike for herself, but it turns out the Surly is good enough for now--provided we figure out a good saddle height for her.

June 3, 2012

Emery: Peek

When this girl is not pinching, slapping, or trying to bite you, she is killing everyone with cuteness.

June 2, 2012


I told myself I wouldn't post any more until I knew C had watched that video about women mountain bikers. I know she didn't but couldn't wait any longer to sit on these pics from last week. This was Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, just before C took the girls on a trip to Cleveland, leaving me at home to work at the bike shop. We decided a visit to the local cupcakery, The Suisse Shop--which makes buttercream superior to all others--would be a great treat before the girl's long car ride and my long absence from the girls. What's funny is Ellie has little interest in cake of any kind; it's the frosting that she's after.

May 23, 2012

Mountain Bikes, Empowering Women

I've become more or less obsessed with mountain biking and I'm always thinking about when is the next time I'll get to go ride. I have a ton to learn, a ton to grow, and am anxious to keep on keepin on. What's more, the thought of introducing Carlyn to the trails is exciting--I can't be sure she would be as taken as I was on my first ride, but it's hard to believe that a ride through the woods could be anything but pure exhilaration. On top of that I'm excited to introduce the girls, El & Em, not only to bikes, but to mountain biking. My first trail ride was last year when I turned 28. What if I had been riding for the past 16-17 years or more? It's a cool thought to imagine Ellie catching air on a pump track, or Emery getting over an obstacle for the first time. I realize it's just as ridiculous for me to think this as some other dad who likes baseball imagining his baby daughter's first home run or a certain mom ::ahem:: picturing her baby daughter performing at a dance recital or gymnastics competition. At the same time, and in the same way, these dreams and hopes really boil down to confidence, empowerment, and success, beyond whatever mundane sport/hobby/activity seems to be the focus.

It's just that biking is so much cooler than baseball and dancing. Breh.