Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And The Wind Blew

...such gusts that it was a white out at Trapps. The ski patrollers said that it was the worst they had ever seen in that notoriously windy field. There was no way that we could take the kids out there, despite Ava's protests that she could do it. 

Plan B: riding bikes in the school gym. Having a Dad that teaches school and has gym access during vacation is a bonus. 

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Treats Overdose

It started a few days before Christmas and it ends tonight -- the gorging on peanut butter balls, fudge, Lindt balls, sugar cookies, party mix, candy canes. I'm all about indulging for the holidays, but we had our last holiday party tonight and the leftover treats are getting tossed out tomorrow. 

The girls have been taking advantage of my lenience with sweets over the holidays. But tomorrow, they'll see that the counter no longer has all the Christmas tins on it. We'll go back to our standard snacks of apples and yogurt and cheese and peanuts. We might have dessert and we might not. Until, Ava's January birthday. Then we'll have our cake and our ice cream, too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Exercising Locally

Just when you think that you're doing a good job eating local foods, here's a new challenge -- exercise locally. I've been thinking of this concept after reading of a local Facebook group called Recreate Locally http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=40145583629&ref=mf

Cross-country ski season is the time that my family puts some miles on the car to go to the groomed trails at Trapp Family Lodge Nordic Ski Center (aka Trapps) in Stowe. Okay, we're not  going to give up going to Trapps, but we're getting smarter and doing some skiing across the street from our house this year. 

I have a confession: the land across the street is now being groomed by my husband, so it is a little bit of a luxury, but it takes me about three minutes to complete the loop. I just change my expectation for what my workout will be. Plus, it's great taking the kids across the street to ski instead of always loading them and their equipment into the car. 

On some weekdays/weeknights, I'm getting in a quick ski instead of staying home eating cookies. Lots of bonuses -- environmental, time saving, changing your fixed routine.

Think about it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Family Race Day

Today was a first. Ava skied in her first cross-country ski race ever. Tom skied in his first of the season. I skied in my first race in a few years and Julia participated, too, between Daddy's legs for the downhill and on his shoulders on the way back. Yup, three separate races in one morning.

From a parenting perspective,  separate men's and women's races are great for sharing childcare duties.  I'm not usually up for all the hype and preparation for ski racing, but I figured if my four-year-old was going to race, I could muster up some energy to do a race. Plus, I knew they'd be able to play in the indoor pool with Daddy while I raced inconspicuously on a tame course without a lot of spectators.

I have to admit that I'm a little envious of my preschooler's composure for races. She's relaxed, she moves along, and she manages to pace herself. Me: I get anxious, I have trouble riding a flat ski, and my heart starts pounding like mad on the uphill. 

But, I think I might be up for another race, especially if we find another kids' race. It's a cool feeling knowing that we all raced. And the girls loved their prizes -- lollipops.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snow Games

Today, I fell on Julia while we were skiing. Okay, I didn't smoosh her. We were barely moving and my skis slid out from me. We both went down and I mostly landed on her legs. 

Meanwhile, older sister, Ava, and Daddy were out playing chase on skis -- the perfect scenario for a parent teaching a child to ski. They had a ski clinic admiring them. 

It's hard to be starting all over again with a child that spends more time on the ground than on her skis. She's done with the pulk. We learned that the hard way with screams and kicking legs and loud protests of  "I want to get out. I want to ski." 

We're praying for some decent snowfall so we can let Julia walk on skis in the tracks. For now, just playing in the snow outside the lodge is okay, too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pee Ski

Fortunately, it didn't happen on my watch though I was probably to blame. Just as I skied across the field at Trapps, away from my husband and kids, free at last, Julia peed right through her snow pants. She told me she had gone to the bathroom before we got in the car, but I guess I can't trust everything that a two and a half year old says.

The good news for Daddy was that after changing Julia into dry pants, he convinced her to ride in the pulk -- a major feat these days. Looks like we're in for some challenges this season as little sister wants to be on skis like big sister but doesn't last long.

As for me, I got in my solo ski. It's great to see the kids making strides on their own skis but there's nothing like being on my own, high in the hills, where it is oh so quiet. 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Tree Trek

After our family ski this morning, we went on another outdoor adventure -- searching for our Christmas tree. Sure, we could go downtown and quickly pick a pruned tree from a parking lot but we have a ritual of cutting a tree from the national forest. That means that we get a Charlie Brown tree. We think our trees are beautiful, but not everyone agrees.

The price is right: five bucks for a permit. We have to drive a bit to hit national forest land, but that's part of the adventure. Once we get out of the car, the girls start running to find a tree. Actually, this is the first year that I haven't had a kid in a backpack on this adventure. Best yet, the girls hauled the tree out.


Monday, November 24, 2008

First Ski, Worst Ski

My husband said "this is the worst day of my life" when we were out for our first ski. That was when we were in the moment, the moment of kids whining, of a toddler who didn't want to stay in the ski pulk and a preschooler who was experiencing her first falls of the season.

The screams aren't fun. I felt like a horrible parent pulling a screaming child in a pulk. 

But back in the car we recovered. My preschooler said that she had a good time. My toddler was tired and taking her out of the pulk to take our holiday photo and then trying to put her back in wasn't our smartest idea.

We remembered that this is how ski season starts. You have to get used to it all over again. The first skis are the ones where you have to look for the snow. They lack the comfort of the touring center. You have to start from a cold parking lot, where there are no bathrooms or hot cocoa.

Looks like we'll have to try for another holiday photo as we're squinting in this one. Maybe we'll even get Julia on some skis for the next take.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fun Run

I never thought that I'd have a child running a race at the age of four. I thought that races might start around age 7 or 8 or 9. Already my preschooler has two one-mile races under her belt. She ran this one in 9.57 minutes. I'm not out to brag, frankly, I'm surprised at how excited kids get for races. 

Before a race I get anxious, shake when I put the pins on my shirt to hold my bib number, and can't wait until the thing is over. But my daughter and a host of other kids close to her age, were composed, excited, and impressive little runners. And their race was deemed a "fun run."

I used to think that getting kids into a competition at a young age was pushing a child. I have a new perspective. My preschooler loves to race, so I'll support her interests. This race was a treat in that daddy pushed little sister, Julia, alongside in the jogging stroller so that she could see the action. I was hoping for a little free time to sip coffee without kids during the race, but after taking a few photos and watching the trail of kids go by, the race was over!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mole for Supper

Tonight we had mole for supper. I had never heard of it before and frankly it doesn't sound very good. But the recipe came along with this week's CSA (community-supported agriculture) share from Pete's Greens and offered a quick way to use up many kinds of produce before I get overwhelmed with next week's delivery.

Here's what was brewing: carmelized onions, garlic, paprika, roasted squash, green tomatoes, ground almonds, kale, white beans, and quality dark chocolate -- at least 70 percent cocoa. Since the recipe called for 2 oz, I consumed the remaining 1.2 oz. I didn't feel obligated to share the chocolate with my girls since they've overdosed on Halloween candy in the last couple of weeks.

As the concoction cooked (for a long two hours at 250 F), my preschooler asked what that smell was. I admit that neither of my daughters devoured the mole, even when I disclosed that there was melted chocolate in there. Perhaps, if I'd had chiles around (as called for), my younger daughter would have demanded the "spicy food," which she has a hankering for.

Though my kids aren't gung ho for all the veggies in the CSA, they like some of them and they are always curious to see the produce spread across our kitchen table on delivery day. It's like a mini food lesson and now we all know that "mole" is a type of casserole.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Double Jogger Days Are Done

We're saying good bye to an era -- the double jogger one. With winter coming, we're getting ready to convert our basement to a ski waxing room and indoor recreation area for the kids. That double jogger takes up some space and our soon-to-be five year old has outgrown the seat. Even with her bunched up in there, it's a load to push and she is dying to get out and run.

I admit that we're a little sad at the thought of getting rid of this piece of equipment. The girls have a good time riding together and my husband and I can talk while the girls talk. But thinking of making a couple hundred bucks off of our Performance Series double jogger helps break through the nostalgia.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tricycle Tricks

I just got a glimpse of how it might feel to run while my girls bike. I was running, chasing Ava and her friend on bikes, but I had Julia on a tricycle. 

I've learned the trick of lifting up the front wheel of the tricycle by pushing down on the attached pole. This means that the tricycle "driver" can't steer. Of course, the rider can't pedal either, but in Julia's case, she's not pedaling much for the long haul anyway. So a little lift from me means that the two of us can cruise. I was running at a decent pace, sweating, in fact, and Julia enjoyed the fast ride. 

The preschool girls stayed to the right on the path, waited if they got ahead of the moms, and put the breaks on for the downhills and sharp turns. In "Fit Family" I discuss how bike paths can have some potential cons, if they are busy and you are trying to get a child acquainted with riding. Yup, I've had some close encounters with kids and potential collisions on the bike path, but not this time. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hiking with Friends

The girls and I took advantage of an early release day from school (hence, no afternoon preschool) and got out hiking with some other two and four-year-old kids. 

The revelation on this outing was that an ice pack from a lunch bag can double as a first aid remedy for the notorious forehead bump that kids get when they take a good digger.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stowe Reporter Features 'Fit Family'

The Stowe Reporter ran a feature on "Fit Family" in this week's business section. Hopefully, lots of folks will check it out while they're checking out the foliage this Columbus Day weekend. And the tourists will be happy. This year's colors are gorgeous. Read the story at: 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shape Up America Reviews Fit Family

Got another good book review. This one is in the October issue of Shape Up America! The organization is headed by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Lots of good info for keeping little kiddos fit in this issue. Scroll down bottom for the review at: http://www.shapeup.org/about/arch_news/nl1008.html

Monday, October 6, 2008

Race Pace

Yesterday, on the morning of our local half marathon road race, my daughter, Ava, asked "Daddy, are you going to win the race?" He said that he didn't think so. She then asked if I had ever won a race. My "ummm" was so long that she changed the subject before I could rack my brain for something that I must have won. Then my husband got talking about his ideal sub-6 pace and beeped his watch incessantly.

It's funny living with someone who is so competitive and focused as an athlete while I am pretty relaxed with the notion of race pace. I did, however, get a good idea from a recent issue of Runner's World. It recommended having three goal times - one that you're really striving for, another that is attainable, and finally one that you would at least be content with.  So, I picked two: a goal pace of 7:45 min/mile, something that would be a bit of a push, and a fall back of an 8-minute mile, which I figured I could do.

I started out with my running partner, who is a little bit stronger than I am, but we figured we'd give it a try opting for some company for the long run. I hung on until the turnaround at mile 7 and then there were a few small hills and I felt a little tired. She went ahead. I slowed down. I was off pace at the 10-mile mark and thankfully saw a friend who yelled "5K." That was helpful because I pulled it back together. 

I finished with an 8-minute mile pace. Good enough for me this time. My husband finished 6th overall. He was a little off his pace, too, but was happy. We've since had a day to talk about the race -- where we were tired, the hill in disguise, who else we saw out there. We rarely race together because of kid duty, but I think this race will turn into an annual event for mommy and daddy. I'm already thinking about who I'll have as a sitter next year as our current one will be off to college.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Errands as Exercise

I'm a big proponent of getting exercise in when you're doing errands. I'm lucky to live within walking distance of downtown so I can take my kids on foot, on bike, or in a jogging stroller to do errands. Sometimes, when I think I'll just do a quick trip and take the car, the kids will say, "Can't we walk?" and I usually say, "Yes" as it is hard to deny that request.

This morning, my preschooler walked and my toddler rode in the jogger to dance class. I used to take the car because I worried that my kids would be too pokey to get to class on time. Now, I just leave extra early and we usually arrive early. I love parking my jogger next to another jogger and maybe a bike, knowing that other families are also leaving the car at home. After class, my toddler usually wants to walk, which is great. I do have her ride for a bit so that I can get across a few busy spots, but then she is free to run with her sister.

Today, I made the mistake of letting Julia wear her older sister's boots. Julia has a shoe fetish and going against her choice of footwear often means a battle -- one I wasn't willing to fight today. The result was that Julia was tripping all over the place, including on the sidewalk where she skinned her knee a little. I made a mental note to rethink the footwear next time for my rider/walker. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Going on a Leaf Hunt

Today, I thought that I would combine work and play (exercise) by dropping off my books at the Trapp Family Lodge Nordic Center/Gift Shop and then going on a trail hike with my girls. Well I forgot the books, but my girls found some discounted toys in the gift shop -- a bonus for them as there are usually only skis and chairs in that area in the winter time. 

We quickly hit the trails, bringing our border collie along with us. The whole gang was excited to be out roaming the trails that we usually visit in winter with cross-country skis on.

We stopped at the first trailside bench, not too far in, to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some fruit, and water. The minute my toddler swallowed her last bite, she was running down the trail. She is usually the one to say, "I can't walk. My legs hurt." My preschooler was a little upset that I made her finish off her last couple of bites, but abided then fled.

We soon hit a section of trail that was sprinkled with colored leaves. The girls were excited. The leaves haven't changed so much down where we are in the village over. Ava suggested that we go on a leaf hunt and we all started gathering our favorite picks from the ground. Ava had a whole bouquet of leaves and Julia figured out that she could just tuck them into my pack rather than carry them. 

The next thing to entertain the girls was animal scat or in their terminology, "poop." Yup, for a young kid poop is about the best topic out there. We saw lots of it as horse and carriage rides operate on this trail. We also saw droppings from a fox or a raccoon. I took an educated guess and figured that offering a couple of animals would get my girls curiousity going.

After we crested a long uphill, my toddler asked to go in the pack that I had been wearing. I was so proud of how far she had come and figure that this might be the mode for her, which is to have her walk a ways and then get into the pack. My older daughter always wanted to walk and we wanted to get in some miles first, so she rode first and then we let her out near the end of our hikes. It interests me how as parents you really have to figure out what makes each child tick.

We continued up a steep hill to a chapel hidden in the woods. We had never been there on our skis so the girls were fascinated. Julia wanted to get out of the pack and I quickly unloaded her from my sweaty back. When it was time to head back down, Julia was eager to be on foot and to be the leader, something her older sister always brags about from preschool. Well, I had never seen that toddler be so proud to be going down a trail on her own. And luckily her older sister was a good sport (with some guidance from me) and took the back position despite her competitive personality.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Dog Walk

Today at a Coffee Talk about "Fit Family" I was asked for ideas on how to fit in some quick exercise for kids at the end of a school day. I suggested dancing around the house with good music, which is a great workout (just try it), and also incorporating a short bike ride or walk into some errands downtown. 

This afternoon, I realized what I forgot to mention earlier -- the dog walk. Now, I happen to know that the person who asked the question does not have a dog, so she'll have to find a reason to get the kids outdoors. My mother always said that I needed to get "fresh air" and that wasn't all that enticing.

So here's how our "dog walk" works:

At about 3:30 p.m. my kids are at each other. One has just returned home from school and is full of energy, but a little tired, and the other is just waking from a nap (hopefully). The girls are pushing or purposefully taking the other person's toys or snack and I become the mediator. So I say, "It's time to walk Abby (our dog)."

The girls know this is the routine and get shoes on and to the door more quickly than usual. I leash Abby until we get across the street, where she can roam free. When we hit the field, the girls go crazy. They want to jump, run, play tag, do ring-around-the-rosey. Then we do a little hike through the woods and run down the hill. 

Today, we saw a worm, a really long one, and the girls inspected it, quickly picked it up, and placed it back in the grass gently at my request. They were fascinated and had to tell Daddy all about the worm later. Okay, so this part isn't exercise, but it is part of the process of getting outdoors, inspecting your surroundings, and moving around.

After our "dog walk," which lasted about 30 minutes, we went back to our yard and played hide-and-seek and tag and on the swing for another half hour. 

My point: If you run around, playing with your kids (instead of watching them), you understand why they want to take their sweatshirts off. Your body is working and getting warm. Exercising with kids doesn't have to be fancy or take a long time. And playing makes exercise fun. That was a great point made by another person at today's talk. More on that topic later.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yoga Core

Tonight, I went to my second yoga class -- Yoga Core, open level. I was running late (because of a miscommunication with my husband, who had to be home to watch the kids) and when I got to the studio the lights were off.  I could hear the instructor's soothing voice settling the class in to yoga mode. I was ready to head back home, rather than interrupt class, when out came the instructor. She invited me in and gave me her mat. The class was packed. I felt thankful and ashamed. 

The class was amazing. An hour of working the core muscles. Last week, my muscles hurt two days after class, a sure sign that I don't work my core. The other great benefits -- stretching, breathing, improving my posture, and an hour away from my kids at the dinner hour! I'm also getting over my yoga phobia, because in a core class you don't have to link flows, something I have trouble remembering how to do.

The class ends with relaxation, focusing on your whole body. I could feel my shoulders relax and my jaw loosen. At the end, in seated position, we took a moment to think of something we were grateful for on that day. For me, it was the instructor, who welcomed me when she didn't have to. Then as I walked home, slowly, I was thankful for having an hour to be conscious of the connection between my mind and body. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fit Family in the News

"Fit Family" was featured in an article called "Family Fitness starts with the very young," which ran in the Outdoors section of the Sunday Times Argus and Rutland Herald on Sept. 14. 

Here's what Linda Freeman wrote about the book:
"Look no farther for the perfect guide to family pursuits in our state — or anywhere. This is a gem. Far more than a how-to book, (though chock full of excellent "how-to") or a tour guide, or a play-with-the-kids cheer, this attractive volume thoroughly presents a wide variety of family-friendly activities such as hiking, biking, paddling, skiing (both Alpine and Nordic), camping, and swimming — not just dragging the kids along, but involving them in the effort and the fun."

See the full article at:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Food, The Old-Fashioned Way

Yesterday I finally got around to making pickles. Twelve cukes had been staring me down for a few days and I had to get to them before the fruit flies swarmed all over the kitchen. I've followed the tradition of making Violette's bread and butter pickles for several years now. Violette, now 98, is my husband's grandmother and he raves about how whenever he finished mowing Gram's lawn as a teenager she'd fry him up a hamburger and bring a jar of pickles up from the basement. They are sliced thin and you pile them on with a fork.

Making Gram's pickles is not something I involve my girls in yet, other than helping to pick the cukes. (This year's garden wasn't so fruitful, so the cukes came from another local garden that had a surplus.) The glass jars, the steaming water, and the bubbling apple cider vinegar aren't a great combo for cooking with kids. 

This year, I saved the pickling for my toddler's naptime and unfortunately she didn't nap. I had salted the cukes overnight so I was committed and my crazy girl Julia was getting into things left and right. I finished moments before I had to pick up Ava from preschool.

Okay, it might not have been the canning experience that I wanted -- where I'm mindful of the process and taking pride in doing what generations before me have done. But at least the pickles taste good and will last us through the winter.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Taking Your Kids to Your Race

On Labor Day weekend, my husband and I both competed in a 5K running race. The entry fee was cheap, the race wasn't too far away, and the mother of our babysitter was running, so we thought why not have the babysitter come along and watch our kids during the race.

I probably should have passed the kids off on the sitter once we hit registration, but I felt that I needed to make sure they were settled in. We tried to find a playground away from the downtown fair that was taking place, but we didn't find one.

I decided, with some conscious effort, to relax and let our great babysitter do her job and I went for a warm-up with my husband. It was nice to be out on the road with him and without a baby jogger for a change. 

The race course was an up-and-back so I saw my husband go flying by on the homestretch while I slogged out to the turnaround. 5Ks aren't my favorite races, I like longer distances, but I was glad that I participated and I even got an age group prize.

My daughters were delighted to watch the finish, high up on a hillside with their babysitter. They were safe and content. Would I take them along again for a race? Yes, as I think that it is good for them to see what a race is all about and as my older daughter could participate in the mile race another year. But, I wouldn't take them all the time, as it adds to logistics, and I'm not sure I like too many races anyways being the less competitive parent in the family.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to school, back to a schedule

In Fit Family I write about scheduling exercise so it is part of your routine. Though my husband and I are pretty good at having informal conversations about when we'll exercise on our own and with our kids, I realized that it has been a couple of weeks since we've all been out together. We've been on vacation and to a wedding and we've been out of our routine at home. 

So yesterday while Tom was at school preparing for his new students, the girls and I and our dog, Abby, went on a hike. The air had the first hint of fall in it and our border collie was so excited that she was doing laps, running ahead and then coming back to us. (You think your kids don't get enough exercise, what about the pet who drops in ranking when the kids come.) My preschooler, who has been so emotional lately, was energetic and carefree as she hiked along. Little sister Julia bounced around in the pack.  After we turned around, I let Julia out and she ran along with Ava.

We didn't have any of the battles that we have at home, even in our yard, about who gets to swing first or who is faster or better. As much as I've enjoyed summer and our lack of a schedule, I'm looking forward to September -- to starting anew while also getting into a routine.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fit Family Book Is Out

I just got a box of books from the publisher and have started distributing them to friends and family and placing them around my town of Waterbury, Vermont. These aren't free copies, they are just the early copies as the rest get handled by the distributor and make their way to book stores. 

I think this book is going to become the #1 baby shower gift. I'm getting all sorts of purchases from people who want to buy for a friend who is expecting a baby or a relative who has young kids. Since the book covers so many sports, it is a good gift for tons of parents and it beats sending another outfit.

Book stores should be stocking Fit Family in the next couple of weeks so pick up a copy and check it out, then get out and get fit with your family.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vacation Food

Two days ago we were driving from the rocky Maine coast back across that big state along a secondary road. The kids were getting hungry, Tom and I were hungry, and we'd gone through the bananas, nuts, water, and other miscellaneous snack items that we'd been toting around. 

We passed a few pizza joints that looked like they could go out of business any day (not a lot of cars in the parking lot) and then hit a strip that had some big box stores and a Taco Bell. We made it inside Taco Bell, the girls already choosing a table with high stools, but we soon left feeling that the food choices were unappealing, processed, and greasy -- plus, Kentucky Fried Chicken also operated out of the place so the fried food smell was wafting around.

We took our chances and kept driving. The map showed no bold-lettered towns between our current location and Rangeley, our next stop over. But about 15 minutes later we hit a cute little town alongside a lake. We spotted a general store with a deli and Tom went in to get sandwiches while the girls and I sat at a picnic table out back and watched boats take off from the docks behind the store. Our wraps and sandwiches weren't fancy, but they were fresh. 

It was great to eat outside, to take in the beauty of the lake, and to see the girls' fascination with all of the people that came in and out of this lake in kayaks and motor boats. We forged on with full bellies that weren't bloated from fast food. Thankfully, we're now home to a garden full of vegetables, which our daughters proudly picked.



Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Aching Back

I confess that I've done it again -- seized up my back. You would think that I would have learned from the last time, back in February where two great days of extra long cross-country skis (and no stretching) tightened my hamstrings and sent the stress straight to my lower back. Through the spring I was a diligent stretcher. I listened to professional advice. I stretched throughout the day. I did yoga moves with the kids. Then summer hit. I've been enjoying doing lots of sports, but forgot about stretching.

It was a 10-miler road run that did me in. One long, fast stride on a downhill that sent sharp pains to my back. I had to hold back and tell my running partner to fly down the hill. I couldn't bend down and touch my toes after the run. I'm on my fourth rest day and I've been crabby with the kids. Trying to buckle a wiggly toddler into a car seat is about all I can handle.

I have been using the car more than usual to tote the kids around town as I can't use the bike trailer or running jogger and as I've discovered that heated seats in the summer time can be bliss for a bad back.

I already miss exercising, alone and with my kids. I'm also mad at myself for not doing something so simple as stretching every day. Yup, I'm learning the heard way that my body is not as young as it used to be. I think I'll be signing up for a yoga class this fall. 

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Exercising with the Extended Family

Having a triathlon scheduled mid-summer is a good way to make sure that you get out and train in three sports before summer flies by. This year's event -- a Danskin sprint triathlon in Webster, Mass. -- went well except that I got a flat tire a mile into the 12-mile bike and ended up riding the flat as I wasn't prepared to change a tire. Yup, I'm married to a former bike racer and I can't change a tire. He's always the one who is prepared with the tube and the tools on our family bike rides. 

The triathlon is my one weekend away from my immediate family. I participate with my sisters and get a chance to talk to them more in those two days than I do throughout the year at various busy gatherings. One of my sisters is a breast cancer survivor and so doing the event, which raises money for breast cancer research, is a small way to honor her.

Being raised in a fit family with siblings has the benefit of meaning that later in life, you're likely to share some of the same exercise habits and so family gatherings include a hike, a run, a bike or a ski. My sister, Gretchen, told me that for her birthday this summer, her two boys (8 and 10) took her on a mountain bike ride. She said it was the best present they could give her. 

Monday, July 21, 2008

Triathlon Training

I'm preparing for a triathlon this weekend. I wouldn't go so far as to say training as it is a mini-triathlon with short distances and I haven't even practiced transitioning from one sport to the next. But I've been nervous about the bike ride. Last year my chain fell off just as I got into the big uphill. This year, I have a new bike (well an old one that was free by side of the road) and most of the time that I am on it, I'm pulling a kid or two in the bike trailer.

I needed a solo ride and told my husband that I was going out during our toddler's afternoon nap. He said that if I waited until after nap we could all go together. As much as I like our family bike rides, I needed to ride alone -- not just for practice, but for freedom, too.

And so I made it out on my own. I went up a long hill, much like the one on the race course, and I enjoyed sweating it out. I'm not sure that I could have made that whole thing with the trailer attached. 

I got home just in time to go to a concert in the park with my family. I felt invigorated, relaxed, and happy to see my kids whose whines earlier in the afternoon were good incentive to go for a ride.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Double Jogger: A Love/Hate Relationship

This morning, my husband, Tom, asked if I wanted to run the four-mile town loop with him. I figured that we wouldn't be shelling out money for a babysitter and inquired, "the double jogger?" Our girls, now two and four years old, are weighing down the jogger and our preschooler is now doing so many sports on her own that totes in the jogger have become infrequent; plus she barely fits under the sun canopy. But the idea appealed to me. Our daughters contained and chatting with each other while we ran. The timing would be easier than each getting in our own run, too.

So, we headed out at about 10 a.m. The girls were great. Tom did the pushing in the heat so he had to work hard. I felt a little guilty about that so did take over for one uphill. We know that our double jogger days are about over, so the run for me was bittersweet. As much as you feel like you're pushing a wide load, there is a sense of accomplishment when taking two kids along on a run and they enjoy the companionship.

We used to see people running with preschool age kids in a jogger and scoff to ourselves that the kids were too big and old to be pushed. Now we understand. Parents do what works for them and when you've got a good thing going, you try to hold onto it as long as you can.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

An Off-Road Ride

The other day, we did a creemie ride. A creemie is Vermont's terminology for soft-serve ice cream. My husband, Tom, cruised with our preschooler, Ava, via a trail-a-bike or tag-along and I hauled our toddler, Julia, in our Burley bike trailer. Our destination was the next town over but we had to take a detour to avoid busy Route 100, which has been especially busy with utility work forcing traffic into one lane. 

Our detour took us on a path that varied between grass and a single track to loose sand and gravel. We were on road bikes traveling uphill so I had to dismount a few times and Julia asked why I was walking. I didn't mind hopping off and on the bike a bit as I was in shade with mountain views. We soon reached a dirt path alongside a golf course and my brakes whined on the downhill but I didn't see golfers turn their heads in our direction.

We reached our destination, a general store, just as the creemies became available - 11 a.m. We ordered three maple flavored and one vanilla for four bucks - an affordable treat and a fun family outing.