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A Simple Six: 9/25/11 - 10/2/11

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Feeding Six: Breakfast-Week 1 (rather, day 1)

Saturday October 1, 2011
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Rolls with Salted-Caramel Frosting and Crumbled Pretzels
Adapted from Allrecipes' Clone of a Cinnabon and bakedbree's Salted-Caramel Frosting

It's been previously mentioned that I do not buy cereal for our brood. I am not opposed to cereal. I actually really really enjoy a bowl or two with cold milk. We gave up cereal nearly two years ago because I was exhausted with the expense of five or more boxes a week plus the extra gallon or two of milk. Cereal became the filler for after school snacks and late night husband food cravings. I got fed up with the whole cereal racket in terms of marketing, nutrition, expense, and mess (bowls being found in the office days later).

This breakfast series has been thought about for months. I have tinkered with and talked about how to work this meal into the blog without crowding out the transportation portion. Feeding Six was established with the Shopping Experiences and the Meal Co-op (which has been the most popular post on this site) and I still feel that A Simple Six is about how we do what we do as simply as we can. It began with one of the largest lifestyle changes we have undergone, but has at it's heart the underpinnings of who we are and what we are establishing in our lives, with our time.

Beginning today I will compile each week's breakfasts as photos and a link to any web sources I may have adapted. Maybe some day I will get into food blogging, but for now, I am going to keep it simple. Feeding Six: Breakfast will be about what we eat each morning. I intend to post our adventure on Saturdays. Being what Saturdays are, I am sure you will all forgive and forget if it's Monday before I compile my post. I have the best intentions...sometimes terrible follow through. Please let me know if you want to see more or less and if you have any questions.

Today's breakfast was pumpkin pie spiced rolls with salted-caramel frosting and crumbled pretzels. London had her annual we are surviving back-to-school slumber party last night. The young ladies helped me make the rolls before bed and I got up before them all to put them in the oven.We have two bread machines now, so I made two batches, meaning we have enough for breakfast tomorrow, or what's more likely to happen, a great snack later.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Comparison: September 30

Our trip meter August 21-26:

Miles Walked: 12.5 Biked: 50.9 Bused: 2.1 Drove: 0 This week-August21-26

 August 28-September 2:

Miles Walked: 6 Biked: 70.4 Bused: 0 Drove: 4 This week-August 28-Sept 2

September 4-9:

Miles Walked: 8 Biked: 43 Bused: 0 Drove: 24 This week-Sept4-9

September 18-23

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 51 Bused: 2 Drove: 52 This week-Sept 18-23

 This week, September 25-30, 2011 we certainly covered more miles on the bike. I think this is because I made two downtown trips this week and a grocery run on a Sunday as well as today. We kept the van miles down by only driving the children to school and picking them up in the vehicle today. I put in a call to the PATH folks about their plans for improving/completing the route between our neighborhood and Our Lady of Fatima Parish school. Still waiting on a call back. I felt that the grant for Safe Routes to School would be something I could assist them in applying for. It was also on that website that I discovered this Wednesday, October 5 is International Walk to School Day. Are you participating?

Miles Walked: 1 Biked: 70.2 Bused: 0 Drove: 20 This week-Sept 25-30
54.7 443.2 12.6 567.2 Since August 14, 2011

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Lot of Bike Drama

After getting the children to school, Brent, Oliver and I began our day with an interview at the Herald-Dispatch. The story ought to run on Tuesday, but of course it could get bumped a day or two.

It should be pretty clear by now that I have no idea what I am doing with a bike and further more I am a bit of a nutter when it comes to "great ideas." There was so much drama surrounding both mine and Brent's bike today. I could fill a book with the course of events between 8am and 6:30pm today. I will spare you all the saga and tell the story with photos and captions.

Following the interview we had a play date with the Mother's Club at the fire department. Oliver was more interested in their ride on bike. I can't make this stuff up. He wanted nothing to do with the engines and dove out of my arms for the bike.

It must have been "coal patch" day in the neighborhood. All the holes were freshly filled. Not fun to bike over. Sticky, stinky and rocky.

This was my "great idea." Elliot was having a lot of leg pain while riding, so I decided then and there to see if I could move the child seat forward, allowing me room to tow his bike and put him on mine. Apparently moving the seat is not a single person job and it's complicated with small parts. I lost one of those small parts on the sidewalk somewhere and had grease up and down my arm.

The towing worked. As did hauling three boys on one bike, up hill. It was only the last major hill and last minor hill, but I was still pretty excited I could do it.

Having the child seat in the front position created another unforeseen problem. My heels kept hitting Avery's toes.

Towing was a success. We are trying to make bungee cords fashionable and functional.

Brent had to walk the last 1/3 of his trip home from work because of this. He had new road tires put on his mountain bike today and we are unsure of the exact cause, but the front tire blew apart. No bodily harm done.

The shattered tube.

Scuffed up rim.

Fortunately for us, he arrived home at 5:30 and put in a quick call to Tom at Huntington Cycle & Sport. Tom made a house call to smooth out the rim, replace the tube and remount the tire. I will be baking copious amounts of cookies and making a gratitude delivery soon.

Miles Walked: 1 Biked: 60.2 Bused: 0 Drove: 12 This week
54.7 433.2 12.6 559.2 Since August 14, 2011

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Today's route above. I did get to see a new neighborhood by bike today because of my trip to the fire department. I also discovered a lot resources I had not known or forgotten.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Living Car-Lite in Huntington: Tim, Hannah, Peter, and Claire

It has been generous of my friends to take their time to write up the answers to a barrage of questions and share their stories of living car-lite, here on this blog. This is Hannah's account of how their family has traveled about Huntington, WV. To read the first two interviews in this series, please see: Klover/Kittinger  and the Hobson/Greens.
I hope you enjoy learning a little more about another great Huntington family and their reasons for living with one less vehicle.
All photos are courtesy of the family.
We are a family of four: Tim, Hannah, Peter (9), and Claire (7 1/2). We own one car (a 2004 Honda Odyssey) and we each have a bike. Here's the history of our car ownership.
Peter, going to school.

Claire's ready to ride.
Tim and I both owned small, two-door sedans before the kids were born. We purchased a ten-year-old Volvo station wagon when Peter was about 9 months old (we thought it was the professor-ly thing to do), so we donated one of our cars to Good News Mountaineer Garage in Charleston. (By the way, this is a great organization.) Then at some point down the road  (I can't remember at exactly what point) we decided we could make do with just one car, so we donated the other sedan to Good News. Then, when Claire was three, we were able to purchase our used Honda van (with some generous financial help from my parents). 
We decided to hang on to the wagon, since it was paid for, and my parents ended up using it during the summers (they live in California but used to spend the summers in the east, so they flew to Huntington for a couple of years, picked up our wagon, and used it for the summer on their travels). In the summer of 2009, when my parents had driven the wagon up to Massachusetts, my mom was hit by a rookie policeman, who was making a bad left turn, and the car was totalled. To be honest, Tim was thrilled! He really didn't like the Volvo, and our insurance company payed us the full book value, which was significantly more than anybody would have paid us for it. I can honestly say that I am very grateful for that police man who hit our car, because it has simplified our lives tremendously to be back to one car. We feel like we're being better steward of our resources, and helping the earth out in the process.
One reason that it is doable for us to have just one car is that Tim can bike or walk to work easily. Only on very rare occasions does he drive the car to work, or do I drop him off at Marshall. He genuinely enjoys his bike ride to work, and in the winter when it is too icy to bike, he can get to school on foot in about fifteen or twenty minutes. We are only about a five minute bike-ride from our church, ten minutes from the kids' school, two minutes from the YMCA, and about five or ten minutes from downtown. So, we are truly blessed in terms of our location. It would, of course, be significantly harder to have just one car if we lived further away from these places.
Tim doesn't travel much for work, but when he does occasionally go to a conference, either he or I will rent a car (do you know about Enterprise's weekend special? About $35 for three days - Friday through Sunday). I work from home very part-time - I teach about six private violin lessons a week. I use the car to go grocery shopping (once a week), to run an occasional errand, and to drive the kids to and from school in bad weather. I do order some things online, but I also go out to the mall every once in a while (I do try to wait to go until I can kill many birds with one stone!) During soccer season, we make a trip out to the Kennedy Center on Saturdays, which of course uses more gas, but I can also combine trips to the mall with trips out there, so that helps.
It would be great if the city of Huntington would consider finding a way to put in bike paths*. When we ride with the kids, we ride primarily on the sidewalks, which I believe is actually illegal downtown* (I asked a policeman one time about this, and that's what he told me). I also think it would be great to have community leaders encourage people to consider living in Huntington, as opposed to Barboursville, Milton, and Ona. I know there are some folks who really feel called to live in the country, but it seems like there is potentially a lot of good housing in Huntington that goes unused. We really love living close to everything and often feel bad for our friends who have to drive 20 minutes just to go to the library, or something like that! 
*Stacy's Note: Huntington is working on installing bike paths and it is illegal in WV to ride on the sidewalks.
By and large I would say that having one car as opposed to two is a huge blessing. Even just keeping track of basic maintenance like oil changes on two cars seemed to complicate our lives considerably! Having just one car forces us to bike and walk more, too, which is of course a win-win situation: it's good for us, it's good for our budget, and it's good for the earth! There are times when one of us needs to ask a friend for a ride home from church, or to a rehearsal, or something like that, but folks are always happy to help in that department. We like being able to offer rides to other folks when we can, too. I would love to encourage other folks who live close enough to work and school to consider having just one car, or to consider the possibility of moving closer to their work if they don't. Very occasionally it complicates our life not to have a second car, but our overriding feeling is that we are very grateful to be able to make do with just one. It really is a blessing in the end!
Thank you Hannah, for tracking down photos and sharing your insight on Huntington, your family and your choice to live a car-lite lifestyle.

*Do you live car free or car lite in the Tri-State area? I would love to hear your story. Please contact me, asimplesix[at]

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Quick Fix at our LBS

Having finished ten loads of laundry in the past 24 hours I think posting three (maybe four) blog entries in a single day is permissible. Most nights since returning from Phoenix, I have been up till midnight or 1am. I crashed at 8:15 last night, making this morning very clear and focused. After a Birth to Three session with Oliver, we packed up and took the bike into Huntington Cycle and Sport, our LBS (local bike shop), to have Tom look over the chain. He tightened some cables, took it for a spin around Marshall University, declared me good to ride and we headed home.

While waiting at the shop and chatting with Tom we spied this freaky-cute monster light (above) on their new Schwinn children's bikes. They light up when they detect movement. What a great gift idea! I am thinking stockings this year....

This was just as much fun for Oliver as watching our street get a new "patch" of asphalt yesterday. Oliver loves bikes! Brent walked over to get a lunch I packed for him. Downtown Huntington has a lot to offer us. I might renew my search for housing closer to city center.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 33.2 Bused: 0 Drove: 12 This week
53.7 406.2 12.6 559.2 Since August 14, 2011

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Meeting with a Photographer

The children have been real champs about going home from school without the van. I have continued to reward them with trips to the library on Tuesday and play dates on Friday. Yesterday they had another surprise after school. A photographer from the Herald Dispatch met us at Our Lady of Fatima to get images for a future article. The children were pretty excited to find out that they would be in the newspaper.

Sholten Singer for the Herald Dispatch kept running down each block to get shots of the family biking. I had to jeer him a little about how much easier it would have been if he would have ridden his bike.

This is the only bike rack our bikes ever see. They are difficult to find in Huntington, but we are thankful when they are there. Maybe I should make a map of bike rack locations?

Library time.

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Chain Derailment

Notice the chain is at the very bottom of the V and not on the rings where it is intended. Also note we live in a 2011 world with scan code stickers placed on our bikes. Anyone care to scan it and tell me what it means?

On my first ride with the children, the chain on the Yuba Mundo slipped off when climbing a hill and shifting into low gear. Brent told me it was because I was applying too much pressure to the chain. Yesterday while going uphill to pick up the children the chain slipped off TWICE despite me paying extra attention to the tension. This led me to believe there is a problem with the bike and not with my cycling skills.

I don't intend to be naive about fixing our bicycles. However, while I am still trying to figure things out I will be taking my bike into the shop this morning and peering over their shoulder and asking a lot of questions. I already called to see if they thought it was me or the bike. They concurred with it being the bike.

In an effort to be more conscientious in my life, I have tried to stay more "in the moment." This is very hard for me to do. However I did observe that during the three chain derailments the following factors where present:
  • I was shifting from 2 to 1 on the front chainring
  • We were climbing a hill
  • Oliver was in the iBert on the front of the bike.
What I don't know, is whether any of this had anything to do with the situation.

Yesterday the first derailment happened as I was crossing Washington Blvd. This is not good folks! The corner is already a hard one to see around and I was scooting across with my feet on the ground. I lifted the bike into a two foot space of grass between the road and a hedge and kept a quick eye on the traffic coming up behind me as I held the bike with one hand and tried to work the chain back onto the chainwheel with the other. It's a wonderful thing to live in a small town during times like these. I was there for one minute when a familiar Honda Odyssey came around that corner. My friend pulled around and came over to help me hold the bike while I worked with the chain and cleaned up. Oliver was very patient during our "emergency." Keep calm and carry on.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Biking Without our Trailer

Brent fashioned some totes to the cargo bike yesterday for groceries. We hauled the trailer out on Saturday for all our gear, but today I was stumped.

Brent left two bikes at school this morning so I could pick up the children with the cargo bike and Elliot and London could ride home independently. I gave a few thoughts to how I was going to haul snacks, diaper bag, waters, tools and anything else. I initially thought it would just go in the back pack, but then it rained and looked like more rain was coming. My list of things to bring was growing. I had a towel, extra rain coats for those who forgot them, and extra snacks in case we got stuck at school in addition to everything mentioned previously. My backpack was bulging and the lunch box and Avery's forgotten helmet didn't fit. I considered strapping the totes on, but I couldn't figure out how to work the belt clamps with Oliver running a muck in our disastrous garage. I loaded everything into the trailer, as it's the perfect wagon, but our current hitch didn't fit on the Yuba Mundo because the frame is larger than other bikes. Frustration leads to inspiration and in this case I solved my problem creatively. I strapped the backpack to the deck of the bike with bungee cords and used the helmet straps to secure the lunch tote to the rear of the child seat.

These are problems I enjoy solving.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 19.2 Bused: 0 Drove: 4 This week
53.7 392.2 12.6 551.2 Since August 14, 2011

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Weekend of Gs

Saint George's Greek Orthodox Church, the host of the Greek Festival this past weekend. We checked it out on Saturday, our fifth year attending in some capacity.

We arrived early to beat the crowds. Parked the bikes at the pole on the far right and wondered around for place to change a diaper, get some baklava, Turkish coffee and listen to the music. When we were leaving, the place was filling up.

London coveted those coin wraps other girls were wearing, but the priced tag of $25 was not something she was ready to pay. Of her own accord (and money) she opted for the $5 bracelet and left a happy girl. The hat she is wearing, she knit herself this past week during recess at school and when ever she could find the time. It's her first finished fiber project.

Brent waited in a very slow line for a $3 Turkish Coffee. This is all he came for.

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Our Saturday route above. From home to the Greek Festival, to Goodwill, to game shop, to bike store, to grocery, to home. 10.2 miles.

More light post lock ups. Goodwill at 11th street and Virginia Avenue.

Since we took just three bikes, we played music saddles all day. The big kids took turns on the Yuba Mundo and Junior Viper. Brent had to adjust the height on the children's bike at every stop. He is going to install a quick release soon.

Brent opts for sidewalks, but I really feel safer and more comfortable on the road, in the lane. Here he is taking Avery in the trailer down 4th. I just needed a load break on the Yuba. I was extremely exhausted all day and was breaking down often, mentally and physically.

I had no reason to go to the bike shop, but I just like going. Here, one of the owners came out to check out the child seat and discuss my transition to riding it with the children. They also said my last three parts should arrive this week sometime.
We planned to go for a full grocery run, but I just couldn't do it. We stopped at our mom and pop shop, Julian's Market, for milk and bananas and headed home. Brent took over the Yuba so I didn't collapse and I took back the MTB with the mostly empty trailer.

The evening was spent playing in the yard, napping upright on the couch for 20 minutes and reading stories.

We had played with bags of beans a couple of weeks ago and London planted them all over the yard, they were coming up everywhere.

I caught Elliot reading to the little boys.
It was a pretty jammed pack Saturday. I think my exhaustion was from not riding or walking much while in AZ. I got to bike Friday and my legs were so sore my children couldn't sit on my lap. Come Saturday and we had this long multiple-stop ride planned and I was a mess. We had to stop many times because I was stressed about balancing the bike with the children and carrying so much weight on the bike. I am usually much more relaxed but I couldn't shake the anxiety that day.

Sunday was much better. I didn't get much rest that night, but I was feeling more healed and calm. London and I took two bikes and the trailer to the grocery for a "big trip." Brent had spent part of Saturday fashioning all sorts of contraptions to the Yuba for hauling groceries in lieu of proper bags. Here's what we decided on:
Brent strap clamped two totes to the sides and loaded them with the heaviest things he could find.

He took the bike out for a quick test ride to make sure it wasn't too heavy and the totes wouldn't fall off.

Empties attached and ready for groceries. This set up allowed us to keep the child seat in the rear position, which we won't be able to do when our bags arrive. More on that in another post.

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London with the trailer and I on the Yuba. We set off down the PATH for Kroger.

I am happy fall has arrived, but this makes parking at Kroger more difficult.

We didn't want to be so close to the door and ramp, but they left us little to choose from.

I didn't want to buy too much so I bagged all my groceries as we shopped. Portion control?

All of this fit in/on two bikes, and I feel pretty confident I could have taken the trailer on the Yuba and gotten it all myself, but I love London's company and she was fantastic about hauling it all home.

I put all the lighter things in her trailer. I tried to keep most of the weight over the axle area. Her rolled up pants were so the flair bottom wouldn't get caught on her gears while peddling.

Loaded up. Totes were full so I bungee strapped my large soft cooler with milk and ice cream straight to the deck.

I had my doubts about my 9 yo being able to carry home groceries. When she started out she said it felt like she wasn't carrying anything. When we got to the via-duct she had to walk up the hill because we got behind a pedestrian on the sidewalk and couldn't get started on the upside once we stopped.

There she goes! A wonderful start to fall on PATH and my eldest doing hard work to feed the family.

We carried home 144lbs of groceries. I really didn't notice the weight on the flat surfaces and when I shift successfully into a low enough gear, I was able to take the hills slow and steady and without wearing myself out.
 Sunday also included a birthday party. We could have walked, but biking is so much fun for us. We put the eldest two on their own bikes and I rode Oliver and Avery on the back of the Yuba. I was finding on Saturday that the iBert was not a comfortable fit for me on the cargo bike. I haven't figured out quite why, but for now I am going to ride the littles on the back.

Oliver claimed a bike at the party and rode inches by himself and got a lot of help from Elliot. Of all the children, Oliver loves biking the most and he can't even peddle.

Our bike train before leaving the party. Is everyone picking at an orifice?

Avery and Oliver on the back of the cargo bike. Happy boys.
We tried several configurations of seating on the Yuba Mundo Saturday but we didn't move the child seat like we intended. I might play around with it this week during school pick ups. I am getting more comfortable riding it and figuring out the quirks and nuances.

I rarely allow Brent to have a go. Which means I am doing all the heavy hauling, but I don't mind a bit. It is a pretty sweet bike. If you see me out and about, stop me and I will let you have a spin. I was so happy to be stopped by a reader on Saturday at the park and give him a moment to check it out. Huntington Cycle and Sport can even get in touch with me for test rides, but soon they will have one assembled of their own for you to try.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 6.2 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 This week
53.7 379.2 12.6 547.2 Since August 14, 2011

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