Showing posts from 2014

Fall camping & family bike riding on the Allegrippis Trails

Finally a weekend away from the computer. Not so much away from work, but at least unplugged. We are only a 3-hour drive from beautiful Raystown Lake in Huntingdon, PA. Home of the Allegrippis trails and the annual Dirt Rag event, Dirt Fest.  We loaded the van for a somewhat impromptu trip, took the kids out of school early friday and headed out to enjoy the fall weather.

Because the trip was a little spur of the moment, we forgot quite a few things and didn't grab all the vital food needs requested by the kids. But, who cares. We're camping and it's going to be amazing!

I didn't forget my whiskey. Best Interbike gift ever. 
Camping brings out the independent and adventurous behavior in my kids. They want to go down a trail near the campsite on their own and see whats there, climb a tree, hunt for critters, ride their bikes up the un-known hill. It makes me so happy to see them let go of most of the fear of the outdoors that so many kids suffer from these days. Nature s…

Kids and Science in the morning

My 7yo spent a few weeks saying he needs a science lab coat and he needs to do science every morning. Thank you Netflix Instant for having Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 available for too many months now.

After clothes, teeth and morning lego time, he had been starting his morning off with "what kind of science experiment can we do today?". We found a few easy and quick experiments to satisfy his need for science without missing the school bus.

The water in glasses experiment is the easiest.

We busted out the measuring cups and let him pour in 4 different measurements; 1/4, 1/2, 1cup & 1 1/12. Then we took things to another level by letting him add in food coloring. It was crazy. Then the great science-y questions; what do you thinks going to happen? what really happened? why do you think it happened?

One other very fun one was an ocean in a bottle.

This one takes a little more preparation but only a few minutes to execute. Here is what you need; a bottle (plastic o…

Building Stick Boats & Getting Outside

Warm days are not gone yet! Making the most of warm days is highly important to me after living in southern CA for most of my life and now living in western PA, where seasons actually exist and there is this thing called "winter". Plus being outside is just good for adults and kids.

I love complaining about the heat and the cold. But, I do realize I do that too much and maybe I should just shut up and get a little miserably sweaty.

I found a great book called "Make It Wild" by Fiona Danks & Jo Schofield and it is packed full of fun outdoor activities. One of them is to build boats out of found sticks, twine and some random recyclable items.

My kids loved this and attempted to race them in a few creeks and float them in the water table in our backyard. There are also some really fun winter activities in the book that we are anticipating this year. Even me, and I only like winter behind a glass window in a warm house. The authors have a few other books out I am a…

Toms Shoes - Alive 1year later

I've said it before, I'm a shoe addict. There was a time when I worked in retail I owned 30+ pairs of shoes. It was ridiculous, crazy and amazing. I gave in and bought my first pair of Toms classics, canvas shoes last year. I'm a big fan of canvas shoes. Chuck Taylor Classics and Vans Original Classic Canvas shoes are two of my all-time favorites.

Probably time to buy a new pair...
First and foremost, Toms are comfortable. Right after I bought them I wore them to a week long bicycle convention, Interbike, where I was walking for 8+ hours. No heel pain, or toe cramping/popping. And as a working Mom, I like that I can put these shoes on quickly and run out the door or jump on the bike for a quick ride to the park or store.  They look stylish and of course you get that positive feeling when you buy them, because of the 1 for 1 program.  (Yeah, I'm helping!...but not really helping, I just like to buy stuff that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Yep, that's me.)

When …

Women's Cycling Pants

I love getting the opportunity to blog for Bicycle Times. Check out my ladies cycling pants roundup blog.

Fist Pump! These Giro pants look great with my Merrell boots too. HOT.
I really enjoy bike specific apparel with wicking qualities, it is worth the money if you want to not  feel like drenched in sweat when you get off the bike.

What kind of women's bike and outdoor products are you interested in?

Telecommuting Mom - My Schedule

I'm fortunate to be able to telecommute for my job. It's often a saving grace when my kids are sick, on a school break or when I don't want to get out of my pajamas. But, it can be a major challenge when my kids must have your attention and I have "must get it done" work to do.

I generally have this same "come hither" look in my footie pj's.

Summer break is a challenge for most parents. The hubby and I try our best to keep a schedule for home activities and work. Easier said than done, but the effort alone helps keep things slightly on track. Being parents means being a team, so we do our best to tackle the day as partners not enemies. (Marriage battles happen, but that's another blog.)

Here is a breakdown of how we balance work, kids and day-to-day life at home.

5 or 530am.
Hubby: wake up, make coffee, walk dog (sometimes we switch this chore, but he likes to have a few hours of quiet house in the morning and I'm lethal before 7am.)

Biking with kids and eating donuts

There are parents who have somehow managed to get their kids to jump into the air with excitement when you say "family bike ride!".  My kiddos are 50/50 on the response, we never know what kind of reaction we are going to get. Working in the bike industry does not help, "Mom, can we please stop talking about bikes."

One of the first adventure type rides we tried, we failed miserably. Two hours to prep and load the van, get to the trail, 15 minutes in and one of the kids is crying, the other just miserable, the works. It happens. Its part of being a parent, screaming at the sky in frustration and then saying, ok... I need a time out that might involve this beer going with me. When we get home, we play board games and put it all behind us.

The hubby and I generally force the kids to ride when they're against it. And most of the time their moods change for the positive. That change is generally because we've bribed them with a sweet treat along the rail to tra…

Bicycle Date, one step at a time

Every so often the hubby and I attempt to make time and wrangle a sitter so we can enjoy a ride together and maybe a little time together. Here are the steps on how we manage this amazing feat as full-time parents with full-time jobs.

A photo of us on our adventures in SF last year. Photo credit - Maurice Tierney
Step 1. Find and bribe a babysitter. I've had to bribe my Mom with a new DVD player, money, movie tickets, taking out an epic pile of garbage and much more.

Step 2. Prep your bikes and gear the day before. Don't get caught with bike malfunctions as your are walking out the door, it could take half your allotted bribe time to fix or completely nix the plans together.

Step 3. Load the car (if needed) before you drop off the kiddos and try to make a basic plan of where you are going, how much time it will take to get there, eat and return.

Step 4. Drop the kids off, kiss them goodbye and run before your sitter changes their minds when your kids go screaming into their hou…

Women's clinics at Dirt Rag's Dirt Fest

Every year at Dirt Rag's Dirt Fest we do a couple women's only clinics. Having been a beginner mountain biker not that long ago, I'm always excited to be part of this.

Click the image to check out the Dirt Fest gallery.

To help encourage women to get out their and ride a mountain bike, this clinic is separated into different ability levels at different stations. You have first timers, intermediates and more experienced riders who are looking to hone in a specific new skill. This year we had an amazing coach, Sue Haywood. If you ever get an opportunity to join one of her clinics, do it!

Sue teaching how to get over logs of different sizes.
My beginners learning the importance of looking ahead.
We also help adjust the bikes to fit better; seat height, brake positions, etc.
Mastering drops station!
The encouragement that surrounds the women's clinics and rides always brings an ear to ear smile to my face. There's no cattiness, no rolling eyes of who has a "cheap"…

Winter gardening success

After one heck of a winter we managed to have a little success in the winter garden. Originally we had four beds dedicated to seedlings. With strong, negative temperature winds the heavy-duty plastic was not enough and slices were ripped in the plastic killing one entire bed. Half of another bed survived under the same circumstance, the half that survived were winter carrots.

We got a few onions, a rouge onion showed up in the carrots and managed to be the largest of the bunch. We also had success in the two other beds; kale, spinach and lettuce.

So, we've been eating salads, sautéed kale and spinach omelets and sautéed veggie bowls for the past month. Little man loves to pull up the carrots and it also helps him want to eat these particular veggies. But it's exhausting.

If you already have established beds, doing the pvc and heavy plastic is a somewhat easy task. Taking care of a winter garden is less of a daily chore than the spring garden. Barely any weeds and the plastic c…

My short time as a waitress...

It was very short lived, only about 5 months, but it's something everybody should do at least once in their life.

A great destination for all types of cyclists.
I took the opportunity to work at a new bicycle themed restaurant/bar to make a little, much needed money. I had never been a server before and was afraid I would fail miserably at the job. And, I did have a few moments of pure failure... Pick up and carry on, right?!...

Armadillo tip. Yes, there was more than $1. 
Anyway, being a server was extremely challenging. I never realized how much you have to remember and I'd forgotten how tiring it is stand on my feet for that 5 hours. There were a few great moments, a funny tip, a nice note, some very patient patrons. But with the good comes the bad, that often you have little to no control over. Now I tip bigger and have more patience as a patron. So, please remember that servers only get $3 an hour, and your tip is their hourly wage.

Behind Dirt Rag's Dirt Fest

Although I let my work consume my time and my youngest see's me as someone who likes to work.  I do take pride in being a part of this once a year mountain bike festival. With roughly 2,000+ attendees and over 50 exhibitors this festival takes multiple hands and hundreds of hours to pull off. There's also 10+kegs and 300+ cases of beer, sponsored rides to organize and make sure they happen, let's not even start on all the permits and policies we have to follow in order to keep this festival going on federal land.

My major role in this festival is the exhibitor area. Laying it out, sponsorships, happy hours, helping companies make a brand impact, etc. But overall, my goal is to help encourage people to ride and keep the industry growing. More people on bikes is a good thing.

Everything starts about two months after the festival ended the year before. Setting dates, getting permits signed, answering companies questions on nabbing a sponsorship before it sells out. When you t…

My Mom likes to work.

My son gave me a homemade card, sort of book thing for Mom's day. It said in it a few times, "My Mom likes to work." That crushed me. Is this how he see's me. Not "My Mom likes to play lego's with me" or "My Mom likes to ride her bike." No. I like to work. Which made me reflect on how we are raising our kids and how I spend my days and nights.

My children are well mannered, most of the time. At the ages of eleven and seven, they have learned some good basic life skills; swimming, riding a bike, sewing, gardening, caring for a pet, being part of the family "team" to keep a clean-ish house, earning money and saving to buy things they really want, etc.

To some of the kids grandparents or extended family we are a little wacky with our parental decisions. Not letting our kids consume masses of processed foods or copious amounts of sugar that is in everything. So they eat plain O's cereal and drizzle honey over it and soda is a serious…