Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Complex emotions and the emergency room

I'd like to say that I'm over the moon with excitement and glee in regards to future opportunities, and yet I find all those positive thoughts condemned to hide behind my fear of the unknown. I don't cope well with change, it takes me over and I feel it in the bottom of my stomach, a huge knot of worry that I can't get rid of. Knowing that huge knot of worry will be there for about 4 months, is not the brightest prospect and I find myself worrying about how I shall cope with the worrying. What hopelessly complex little creatures we are.

In an attempt to redirect his stressed out mess of a wife, Kyle came up with the idea of a game of disc golf last night. Silly that we used to play all the time, and then stopped when we moved here and there's now a disc golf course about 2 blocks from our house. Last night was the first time we played there and Kyle commented on how lovely it was, I said maybe we shouldn't move and he glared at me...not a real glare, but one of those "oh you drive me crazy like only a spouse can" kind of glares that broke off into a smile, recognizing my attempt at humor.

I'm glad that Jack is free of the stress created by this move, but the worst times for me have been parting with his little tokens of childhood. I think I've moved so many times in my life that I now detest it, I really want to settle down and embrace my inner hoarder, but every time I get close, adventure calls. It's not even a call I like to receive either, it's like I accept it despite myself. 

I mentioned that I would share our reasons for the move, and really they are very simple but also pretty complex, it's not one thing, but rather numerous things that have added up to be "something". For one, we want to offer Jack as much as we can in life, and don't feel like we can personally do that here and we're not happy with that. We want him to go to a decent school that has a real kitchen, not one serving our most precious, the worst food the country has to offer (two words- "pink slime"). We want to be able to travel more and the U.S. feels very cut off, it's expensive to visit all the places that we want to see. We long for a tad more culture and diversity, oh and a few more vacation days a year, and while we could obviously move within the country to find that, we also want a complete change. Also, honestly, home calls me. It always has done, homesickness is a feeling I've always carried within me and it could very well be for a country that no longer exists, but I shall never know unless I go and find out for myself. I'm very fortunate to have a husband who tells me home is wherever I am and is therefore willing to step out into the great unknown with me.

People keep telling me that we're brave, but I don't think that is the right word- maybe crazy, maybe just desperate for change and then again, maybe a little brave. But I don't feel brave, not at all. I feel so much responsibility to make the right decision and for the right reasons. It wouldn't be so bad if we didn't have such an incredibly tight budget, but as is typical for us, this challenge must be met on a shoestring budget and we're selling everything we can to make it happen. Of course we'll take a suitcase each, a stroller and the bikes...oh and a laptop, because I can't stop blogging now, right when it's getting interesting! We still have to decide where we are going when we get off the plane, bright ideas accepted!

Finally, without sharing the personal details, our little Jack had to be taken to ER yesterday...I think it was yesterday...I'm sleep deprived. But yes, he had a pretty bad time of it, thankfully he is feeling lots better today. It was our first trip to ER with him and was pretty scary, apparently nothing that a good dose of antibiotics can't fix...and I'll leave it at that, because when he grows up he might not appreciate me sharing the details with the world;)

Friday, July 20, 2012

The most intense week of the year and some BIG news-

Jack has just gone down for a nap. This is a good thing. It has been an intense week in our little lives, perhaps the most intense one of the year. Yes, actually it most certainly is. Not "bad" intense per-say, but certainly one full of mixed emotions.

If there is one truly on-going conversation that my family enjoys and rehashes on a weekly basis, it is the subject of moving to England. We talk about it, we dream about it and all of us for our own reasons have obstacles preventing us from doing so. Last week, Kyle and I sat down to another "oh I wish we could move already" conversation, the same one we've been having for about 8 years, when we finally just realized moving to England is a lot like having a baby. Yes I said "having a baby", hear me out... Before we had Jack we had been dreaming of a little one for a few years, the timing never seemed right, the bank account never seemed full enough and the fear of change kept us stagnant. Finally we realized, that there never would be a perfect time and if we waited and held off on our dreams, we'd most likely never see them actualized. And so Jack made his entrance into the world, and the timing was actually horrendous...we lost our business and our home the year he was born, we had some very, very hard times. The hardest times of our lives in fact, and yet through it all we looked at Jack with so much appreciation and love, because he was perfectly timed in his own way, to inspire us and to keep us moving forward.

Moving to England has become a dream that has been put off for too long, one we're no closer to than we were 8 years ago. And so, we've decided to just do it. Yep, we're moving to England and we're not waiting either- because last time we said "we'll move next year" was a few years ago...so instead we're moving in October, possibly September if we can pull it off in time. We've written out a very frugal budget, we've mentally prepared ourselves for an intense few months and we've even started the hard work of selling all our belongings until they are small enough to fit in a few suitcases, except our bikes of course! They are most certainly going with us, but my Vitamix didn't make the cut- which is proof that my bike is officially my favorite "thing". (Anyone want to buy my Vitamix?)

Emotionally I keep running back and forth between glee and terror, I feel like one of those balls in a pin-ball machine, one minute I'm imagining the joy of coastal living and eating chips covered with Malt Vinegar on a promenade overlooking the ocean and the next I'm imagining the realities of 6 suitcases, 2 bikes and a stroller being managed by sleepless parents and a cranky two year old whose just got off a 10 hour flight and is now expected to sit down for a 2 hour train trip...and that's just the trip, after that we have to find a place to rest our bones and the budget, being ever so tight does not allow for fancy hotels. But I do know, Kyle and I work like a well oiled machine when under exacting circumstances, and that we will pull it off, because we can and we have all the right reasons for doing so. I know I should probably take the time to share those reasons but nap time is almost over, and when the little one awakes my typing abilities tend to disappear. I apologize for my wordy, picture-less dialog that has been very un-bikey in nature, but I do hope you will keep coming back to join us on our journey...I have a feeling it's going to get exciting from here on out!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Still going (plant)STRONG!

I can't believe I almost went a week without a blog post. Almost. It's been a good week, I've been busy. I'm surely eager to share that I have been keeping true to my goals, although I did miss a long walk on two days because we've had storms roll in every night, and to be honest I'm just not willing to get zapped by a lightening bolt, last night found us practicing golf of all things, with a storm system rolling in!  We went home in a hurry and left the walk. Jack has been amazing, walking 2-3 miles, which really is phenomenal when you think how short those legs are.

The dietary side has been easy too, sure I crave little sugary snacks here and there, or cheese...always crave cheese. But to be honest, not too bad and I've lost a little weight to boot! I know this is a miserably boring post with it's lack of shiny pictures, but I'm tired and hot!

I shall leave you with this link to Bicycle Times magazine, where they discuss the awesome Boda Boda release party and even give me a little shout out!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 12 - Dizzy spell

I have just returned from a bike ride to the grocery store, it seemed like a good day for a ride when I woke up. I'd had a really bad night with Jack (up 4 times for one thing or another), it was really hot in the house and still is, so I thought I'd get the ride over with early, as I wanted to pick up the ingredients for Veggie Burgers. It's 102 degrees outside, no breeze, no clouds. Maybe I should have thought about it, planned a little better, or at the very least eaten some breakfast!

A pic I took prior to today- for mini cart illustrative purposes.
I thought I'd drank enough water, but I clearly wasn't thinking straight and completely spaced having some breakfast, which often happens if I feed Jack earlier than I would want to eat. When I got to the store I was fine, but Jack insisted on pushing one of the tiny carts they have and being in a typical toddler mood, he was rushing here and there, lagging behind and poking things, attempting to mow down fellow shoppers. The problem with the tiny carts, is once your child has discovered them they are not likely to make it past the cart corral without a screaming fit, unless you give in and let them grab one. I knew I wanted him to ride in a cart today, but thought I would let him push one as he's generally really good about it. We made it around half the store, when I spun around to catch him and immediately the room started spinning. I headed to the cold section of the store, grabbed a pre-made vegan sandwich, some coconut water and some bananas and then headed outside to sit and rest, have a snack and hopefully regain my sense of balance. I use the word "rest" in it's lightest sense, because there simply isn't much rest when your two year old is full of zest for life, two year old's and relaxation only go together in child proofed areas, which a parking lot certainly isn't.

Anyway, I sat there for a while on a bench by the front door to the store, contemplated calling Kyle for rescue, but decided I'd just take my time and cruise home, which is mostly downhill from the store. When the guy at the check-out asked me if I was walking he looked worried, when I replied that I was on my bike he looked at all my groceries and looked REALLY worried. Of course the Mundo handled the groceries with complete ease and was nicely balanced, which was obviously more necessary than usual. I must be a glutton for punishment, because it never occurred to me to not buy the 10lb bag of spuds or the mammoth bag of bulk popping corn. When I made it home and unpacked I had to chuckle, even my purse must weigh 10lbs with all the papers, notes, camera, snacks, diapers etc. Really the Mundo is an amazing bike when you consider that it holds me, my child and a weeks worth of groceries and diapers- with ease, without any fuss and honestly I generally don't even give it a second thought any more, it's just my bike.

As I write this Jack has decided a nap is not going to happen (oh glee!), which really is a wonder considering we were up half the night, so Curious George is playing for the billionth time and I'm going to rest and maybe write up a little pre-ride check list for my next adventure.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Days 9, 10 & 11 - laughing out loud

We have no idea where the Harry Potter scar came from...toddlers!
Today has provided me with enough joy to last a while, well, at least 24 hours until my next bike ride. I actually managed to get out of the house before noon, and while it was very hot, it wasn't completely unbearable and the breeze created by cycling was enough to cool me off a little. Alas I forgot to slather on sun-screen to the little ones arms, but I didn't forget to apply a doggy tattoo, which is obviously far more important. (We're sporting a Pit Bull looking tattoo in honor of Lenox, a dog who stole our hearts and was euthanized today based on his appearances. RIP dear boy.)

My plant strong breakfast today came in the form of a lovely spinach, banana and orange smoothie- no one can resist a smoothie like that, Jack even insisted on finishing off mine for me and sported a green mustache all morning. For lunch we're enjoying a Hummus & Veggie sandwich on sprouted bread with a side of leftovers (last night's chunky veggies and spaghetti in homemade sauce.) The food choices have been easy so far, and fully appealing to my senses- honestly I'm loving it and I couldn't be more surprised! You may remember my last entry mentioned an ice cream I ate- well the real story on that was how I felt the next day- AWFUL!

Yesterday night we went to a the lovely Pioneer Park in Walla Walla. The aviary is full of beautiful birds, turtles and some giant bunnies! It was really nice to get to a different park and was the first time Jack has enjoyed feeding ducks in a long time, he'd been asking to go for a week, so we really had fun and walked around for at least an hour.

I'm getting more and more excited about the arrival of my Boda Boda, after deciding which model to get, I had to decide which bike shop would have the "honor" of assembling it for me. It would be far easier to go to a local bike shop, but I'm so impressed by Joe Bike in Portland that I've decided to get it shipped there, then drive down and pick it up. Joe Bike is after-all the largest Yuba dealer in the world, I believe I read that every member of their staff owns a Mundo and I've heard nothing but great reviews of them and their customer service- plus they have a killer website that features a picture of Jack!

I stole Kyle's cap when I couldn't find my own, he probably won't notice;)

This month has been a time of reaffirmation for me in this journey towards a healthier lifestyle, I found myself grinning ear to ear today as a rode down the street. I was smiling for no particular reason, just enjoying life, it seems like we could all do with more of that type of joy, I know I could. I wondered what people thought of the chunky grinning lady on the big orange bike, with the adorable child...then decided I didn't care, and literally laughed out loud.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Days 6, 7 & 8- Chocolate or Cheddar?

I continue to anxiously await the arrival of the Boda Boda. In fact my mind continually wanders back to it and ideas of projects and accessories keep bombarding me.  It reminds me of my days of pre-Mundo wait time, the anticipation is driving me crazy! I have finally decided on which model I want, and this may come as a surprise, but I have decided on the larger green step-over model, rather than the smaller step-through design. The reasons behind this choice are, I would prefer to not feel cramped in my seating position and as I'm right in the middle of the size recommendations for either bike, I think I'd prefer more room, than less. Also, the larger model will be easier to share with Kyle, who will no doubt want to ride with Jack at some point and it's easier to change bikes than move the Peanut Shell. I've been told that my mounting/dismounting issues with the Mundo will be resolved with either bike, and honestly that will be a big relief to my mind. 

The bike in the forefront is my choice- isn't it beautiful?
I've found ways to get lots of exercise lately, but have missed cycling, for some reason walking has been calling me more often...I think maybe because Jack has been joining me in walking and it wears him out so much that I get to enjoy the benefits longer, we've also been walking with friends who are bike-less for now. I walk with Jack until he can't manage another step, put him in the stroller and then he will take a rest or fall asleep- perfect! For a two year old he can walk an amazingly long way too, at least a few miles before he starts to dilly dally and lag behind. The evenings have been our prime walking time as the days are so hot it would be practically unbearable, I love walking after the heat of the day has subsided, taking runs through any sprinkler we can find.

There have been a few small "complications" with the dietary challenge- yesterday whilst shopping at the Grocery Outlet, I saw three varieties of cheese from the homeland, anyone that knows me has heard me rant and rave about my love for British Cheese, you just can't find it here unless you are willing to spend more than we can afford on a regular basis, so when I see it for a deal I generally buy it! But, alas I stuck to my challenge and left the glorious aged cheddar on the shelf and pined after it for some time. Later in the day, with the heat in the triple digits and a heat storm rolling in with lightening streaking across the sky, a moment of weakness found me wanting to indulge in an ice cream. I mentioned it in passing to Kyle, who immediately agreed that it was the best idea I'd had in eons. Before I knew it we'd loaded in the car and driven to a fast food restaurant where I gave in to a over-sized chocolatey concoction that I shared with Jack. I would have thoroughly enjoyed it too, but I felt immensely guilty and to be honest regret, that if I was going to cheat on my challenge- then I could of at least done it with that lovely cheddar!

Other than that moment of indiscretion mentioned above, I have been eating really healthy; lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains and legumes. Local cherries are in season and my neighbors have been passing out lovely broccoli florets from their massive garden, I've been enjoying watching our tomatoes grow and harvested our pea crop just yesterday. The dietary changes have honestly been far easier than I'd imagined, I enjoy the food and find it very filling. I like not worrying too much about portion sizes, which is a huge benefit of not eating sugar, fat and refined grains.

On one of our walks Jack found these funky sunglasses, I'm hoping they will be a pair that he will actually wear on the bike and not toss off in the road. As you can see, he is thriving on all these veggies and fruits, I think we're all feeling healthier for it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reader tips for staying cool while on your bike!

Do you need some advice on staying cool whilst riding your bike this summer? I did, so I asked some friends how they stay cool in the saddle. I didn't intend to share the responses, but they are too good not to!

"I have just been sweating. Trying not to go out when it's unbearable. Drinking a ton. Stopping often in the shade. Making excuses to go into shops with A/C. Eating a lot of ice cream ;) Going out in the early morning...when we can get our act together or late in the evening. I do love it when I get started and the breeze from just the riding movement whispers on my sweaty skin and I think, geeze, what was a sitting around in the heat for?" - Stacy, A Simple Six

"Lots of water and don't over exert yourself. Wear a hat with a brim and something to cover your neck." - Laura, Army Green Mama

"Wicking clothing. Merino wool (summer weight) is great. avoid cotton unless it's seersucker. Also, you can get less expensive technical fabric clones at Target or Wal-Mart." - Bruce

"I recommend a wrap that you can soak on cool water and tie around your neck. I know from experience that no matter how well a biker plans, we end up getting such in the heat. There will not always be a building with AC. I also, after my very last stop on the day soak a light shirt and put it on over the short I have been wearing. The breeze from the ride home helps keep me from overheating..." - Vicki

"I live in So Cal and just started daily riding this Spring. As it's getting warmer, I've been chilling a Takeya leakproof pitcher (Costco has them right now in a 2 pack) of water, then adding ice before I pack it on my Yuba. Don't even notice the weight. Then I just keep refilling my little water bottle as needed." - Melinda

"I started soaking a bandana in cold water and tie it around my neck, which lasts a half hour or more. I kept some ice in a cooler for over an hour yesterday with me on a parade ride. The cubes were refreshing to apply to my shoulders and arms, or to just eat one by one. I also wear the seersucker cotton, flax or linen short sleeve shirts that let the air through. a bunch of coping strategies." - David

As always, I'm impressed with the great friendship and community found within the cycling community. Do you have a tip for dealing with the hot weather you can share?

Days 3, 4 & 5 - Easier than I thought!

Today I find myself one-sixth of the way through my plant strong challenge and the time has flown by, I'm proud to say I have maintained and met my goals so far, with both the dietary changes and finding a way to ride or walk daily. It's actually been easy, really easy....so easy that I keep thinking I must surely be eating something I'm not "supposed" to eat, or else it couldn't be this enjoyable, sustaining or satisfying! I have even found that I like hot cereals, despite the fact that I used to detest them. But yes, a breakfast of oats cooked with dried dates, dried bananas and some frozen peach slices tossed in with a little coconut milk, is not only divine, but far tastier than the toast I would usually have called my breakfast. I had a coffee issue for a few days, as my rice milk wasn't making the cut, but I replaced it with a splash of coconut milk and now I'm enjoying it too. I have taken to popping some corn every night as a night time snack and it is really satisfying. 

Onions - I love the way the whole valley smells of them, really I do.
I've made what amounts to a lot of change in my lifestyle, that I'm barely noticing because it's made up of lots of little changes. Despite the fact that it has only been 5 days, I'm pretty positive this month won't be as hard as I had previously imagined it would. I started the month expecting misery in the food department, but have enjoyed some very tasty meals including a creamy potato curry that we have decided to make at least once a week. The veggie pizza I made was also a big hit and has made it's way onto the "must have that again soon list".

Little tomatoes on their way, I will be making lots of sauces for freezing

We have spent a lot of time working on our garden lately and it's coming along really nicely. Although we are a little late in the season, I'm not too worried because our area has long, drawn out summers and I suspect we will still get a good harvest.  It's really important for me to grow my own veggies when I can, because despite the fact that there are many local farms, most of them use pesticides, which we prefer to avoid. I also find it very therapeutic and take great joy in watching Jack learn as he helps us when he can. 

I'm really hoping for success with this month's challenge, I'm working on it with a sense of determination that may have got a little lost in the last few months, but is now at the forefront of my mind in everything I do. I feel like these next few months will be full of many fun times and I want to feel healthier to enjoy them, firstly I have my new bike to look forward to and secondly we have a trip planned in August where we will be meeting up with some fellow cargo bike enthusiasts for the Sunday Parkway's event in S.E. Portland. If you care to join us there is an invitation on my Facebook page. 

Yesterday's bike ride was amazing, lovely warm weather and a nice breeze.  Daily riding has once again proved the only way to go, miss a day and I notice it's tougher to get motivated. Tonight we'll be riding as soon as Kyle gets home from work and then we're off to a baseball game. I plan on eating before we leave because I know I won't find healthy snacks there. Yesterday when we went to the 4th of July celebrations in the park, we managed to find a vendor selling veggie burgers on a wholegrain bun which I thought was pretty amazing. If you think you would benefit from a plant strong lifestyle and are on the fence about it- just do it, so far it has been pretty easy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Days 1-2 of 31 day challenge- going Plant Strong!

Vegan pizza- photo doesn't do it justice!

Yesterday was day one of my 31 day challenge for the month of July. I kicked it off in style with a very healthy day of strenuous yard work and vibrant vegetarian meals, for lunch we enjoyed this homemade pizza with a whole grain crust, fresh tomato sauce, shallots, basil and broccoli, seasoned with a little oregano and nutritional yeast. It was pretty delicious!

For dinner we had a stir-fry of veggies, atop whole grain rice, which I always find to be a meal I thoroughly enjoy, despite its simplistic nature. I feel completely full, don't feel at all deprived and overall have found it to be a really easy transition. Breakfast's have been a little bland with whole grain cereal and rice milk or fruity bread toasted with a little fruit spread on top, when we go shopping I will get some more frozen berries and fruit to toss in the mix, and hopefully spice things up a bit.

Butter beans are really tasty, Jack likes them mashed with his rice!

Tonight we went for a walk and then finished up the night with some more yard work until dusk fell, I wish I'd snapped a picture of our progress before it got dark, but I forgot. We planted a tiny row of corn, a nice sage, 3 large strawberry plants, a flat of lobelia and a few geraniums. Unfortunately when I was working in the yard yesterday, Beatrix decided to take a nap right behind me, I didn't see her and got the pleasure of rolling my ankle when I stepped back. It's still aching and is a nagging reminder that life will always throw you an unexpected challenge.

I feel a little weird that I don't have a bikey picture in this post, purists of the bike blog don't fret- you can see the wheel of the Yuba just barely in the picture above. Tomorrow we're going to get out on the Mundo and test out my ankle, I actually think it may be better on the bike than it is walking. I'm still in disbelief that I was lucky enough to win the Boda Boda, what a lovely gift!