Family Bike

I love my bikes, I don’t ride it as much as I like but MAN! DO I LOVE MY BIKES! I love going out with my kids on the bike even more!

I have this plan to cycle more once I’m done with school and, fingers crossed, have a job that is a decent bike commute. My vision involves me riding the kids over to daycare then heading off to my work on two wheels. But there is a slight snag I have hit…the kids are really getting a bit too long for the trailer and with leg space at a premium, squabbles are becoming an issue which makes riding a less than pleasant adventure. I need an alternative plan, sooner rather than later so the hunt was ON!

There are a tonne of options for carrying one child, there are options for carrying two smaller kids, but once you get to the stage my kids are at, things get a bit tricky and expensive. If we were in Denmark or Holland, there would be more options avaliable to me…I’m very jealous of both their cycling infrastructure and Family Bike designs.

Ideally if $ were not an issue I would love to get a Bakfiets

(image from Workcycle website)

Or a Moederfiets style bike like the PackMax Duo,

(image from De Fietsfabriek website)

or a Surly Big Dummy complete build with a Peapod LT for Mr. Liam & a Stoker Bar and Footsies for Mz. Abi from Xtracycle

(image from Surly website)

As all these setups would have run me clost to $4K, they are not viable options.

Next up for consideration were the Radish and Madsen bikes, both of which would have fit the bill but again the price tag and the fact that neither bike are avaliable in Canada so would require shipping form the US killed that option. I’m also not a fan of buying a bike without being able to test ride it.

My quest to have both kids ride with me was looking like it either wasn’t going to happen or would be a serious hit to the pocket book! I sat down and looked at what biking I was going to be doing with the kids to get a better idea what would be the best for that situation; essentially I would be riding three blocks to daycare with the kids, not a huge haul. Abi has a bike of her own which she loves to ride but she is still too small for keeping up on the big long hauls. I also really didn’t need the cargo carrying capacity, I have a seperate trailer for that. So after some more research I came to the conclusion that ideal solution would be to have Mr. Liam in a childseat on the back of Neville (who has had some mods since that photo was taken, must get an updated one for ya’ll) and to find some sort of “third wheel” set up for Mz. Abi…the bike seat was easy to find, the option for Abi…not so much. All the third wheel options for children in North America attach to the seat post of the parent bike, thereby making the use of a child seat impossible. There had to be a solution! Turns out there was and like all well thought out family biking ideas it came from Europe, the FollowMe Tandem!

(image from Clever Cycles website)

This thing is brilliant and perfect for my needs! By the time Abi has out grown the need for it Mr Liam will be ready to graduate from the seat to his own bike! The only problem I have encountered is that Clever Cycles in Portland is the only place I can find them for sale in North America. So I’ll be watching the exchange rate like a hawk all summer and saving up so we’ll be ready for our fall commute convoy.

I’m so thrilled to have found the solution I was hoping for and it won’t kill the pocket book! Both kids love going for bike rides and it gives me that hope that they will grow up to be life long cyclists, now if only our city would get on with being civilized and get some logical bike lane action like they have in Copenhagen!

Think it’s time they got their own loom

Turns out the kids like my loom even more than my wheel!

I have come home from work a few times to see that someone has thrown the shuttle for a few rather messy picks and the other day as I was coming back from making myself a cup of tea in the kitchen to find this:

Here I think he is trying to do one of those finger manipulated patterns I keep reading about…

We have a small problem.

Liam is not napping.

He is not napping because earlier today when moving his crib, it came apart.

The crib came apart in such a way that it’s not remotly safe for him to sleep in.

I put the crib mattress on the floor until we have a solution.

Not being coralled, he got up, opened the door and came out to join me in the living room

Fingers crossed craigslist will have something.

Le sigh.

**UPDATE**

Craigslist came up with nothing (if we had a car, it would be a diffrent story) but the mighty Z had a really nice pack and play playpen for under 70$!

Careening towards two

Based on the temper tantrum I just witnessed Liam is most definitly well on his way to the Terrible Twos, and it looks like he has inherited the James Temper! This is going ot be a fun few years. Thanks be to the Powers of Yarny Goodness for the existence of Malabrigo so I can take solace in knitting then wearing stuff like this:

(this picture was taken Sunday Morning as I was getting ready to leave for work, hence the Serious Business expression)

Laura’s Top down shoulder warmer in Malabrigo Little Lovely. Used almost two full skeins and tinkered with the numbers a bit since my gauge was diffrent and I had read on Ravelry that the arms were coming out baggier than expected. The pattern calls for the sleeves to be knit flat but I did them in the round then picked up and knit the hem.

Well there went my night…

Darn internets! I lost the better part of last night to some internet research brought on by my Dad telling me that one of his friends once or twice a year has a cargo container coming over from England and there could be space made for a bike. So all I could think of after that was: Bakfeits! I`ve had deep love for these style of bikes since I first saw one a few years ago and it grew once I saw Megan and James`.

Currently we have a Chariot Cougar which Chris and I use to haul the kids around the neighborhood, it`s been great but with a recent growth spurt the kids are rather cramped and grocery runs with the kids in the trailer is no longer an option. Even just using the trailer sans kids for grocery shopping is awkward as the trailer bounces all over the place when empty causing bike handling to become an issue. So we`re looking at non-car solution to our situation and cargoéfamily bikes are looking like the answer.

The entry price for one of these bikes is a bit steep (starting at $1500, with most being closer to $3000) or as my sister said: that`s a car! I did the math on how much a car really costs (insurance, gas and maintenance) and then took a look at what types of errands and the range of driving we would be doing to fulfill those errands, a car is a complete waste of money in our situation. My grocery stores are a 10 minute ride away, the school and day care are even closer, firing up a car for such short trips is not good economics or mechanics! Really the only time we really wish we had a car is when we want to go up to visit my family, and with the kids getting bigger it`s looking like Chris will probably be looking to get his licence (we decided he will be the better (read: less likely to road rage) driver) and we will rent a car for those times.

There are quite a few choices for the car free family (If you poke around the innernetz you can find even more companies making these types of bikes.) :

Xtracycles with seats attached Cafemama has a great post about being a car free family with pictures of her xtracycle

Madsen cargo bikes These bikes are new and from the few reviews I have read are still working out a few quirks and they are also the cheapest at about $1500

Nihola are on the higher end of the price spectrum, are a three wheeler and I can get one in the city from Curbside.

Bakfeits of which I have already waxed poetic about.

I`m partial to the Bakfeits as it has the best reviews and has a time tested durability that pleases me greatly! so I`m going to start a little Bakfeits fund and if I get the full time job I`ve applied for we could have one by summers end!

Mummy Guilt

Abi was accepted into the French Immersion at the not so local school but due to logistics and day care issues we had to decline the space being held for her.

So I’m feeling a bit of guilt that we may have made a crap decision that will have some horrific detrimental effect on Abi’s future schooling and later job prospects.

The reality of the situation is that she is in a really great space with her day care and her current teacher (who will be her SK teacher next year) and I don’t want to take her from a place where she is feeling secure and doing well.  It also helps that I wasn’t super keen on her going to a school that was heavy on the Power Parent Set, the majority of the kids have Nanny’s and at the information night all the parents I met were seriously freaking out about what happens if their child FAILS!!!!!?????!!!!! at french. Will this ruin their chances forever? Will they be put in Special Ed? (Actual questions from a Mum who’s Blackberry was going off so often I nearly grabbed it from her and stomped on it!) There were also a few parents who attended the meeting who’s kids weren’t going to be starting school for another year or two! So yeah, I’m okay with Abi not going to a school that has that many hight maintenance parents, and Man! do I ever feel for those teachers!

I have discovered that living in the Big City means that there are a bunch of other options for our kids having access to other french language programs. In grade four Abi can enter the Extended French Program. I’m really quite thrilled with this option as Abi will be older and will be able to let us know if learning French is something she really wants to do and will then be more motivated (one likes to think) in her studies. IF she dosen`t feel ready in grade four there is another chance to enter the extended program in grade seven.

The guilt has been replaced with a definit feeling of this really is the best decision for Abi.

I’d like to thank my Sturdy Irish Genetics!

Liam is most definitely on the mend! This morning his appetite came back and he started harassing Abi and the cats. He is moving a bit slower than his standard 90MPH and isn’t eating us out of house and home as fast as he normally does but he is miles better than he was on Friday!

It took us the better part of Saturday and 4 pharmacies to get the prescription filled and the banana marshmallow scent of the medicine brought back memories of the bouts of ear infections I had as a child. My sister was/is prone to pneumonia and when I mentioned the smell to her I’m pretty sure I heard her gag on her memories.

Thanks to all for the good thoughts, it was a nice thing for a very tired Mum to read.

If the camera behaves itself I hope to return to my normal stress free fiber blogging in a few days. I have a nice fingerless gauntlet that was my hospital knitting, some hand towels on the loom and the first of my Colourways batts to share with you. OHMIGAWDZ it’s just beautiful!!! Need to empty a spindle so I can get spinning this baby!

Oh and it looks like I caught a bit of a head cold from the ER.

This time I came prepared…

If you ever need to spend 12 hours in an Emergency Ward with a sick baby I strongly suggest:

-at least two knitting projects,

-a fully charged cell phone with camera (it helps to distract the little Dude),

-some outstandingly amazing friends who will not only look after you Girl Child so Dad can come down to be with you and Baby but will drive Dad to and from the hospital 2 or 3 times. They are SO getting cashmere hand knits!

-your sense of humor and patience.

We were discharged just before 4am and are all home and on the mend. I’m deeply thankful to be in Canada with our Universal Healthcare and to have access to a hospital like Sick Kids.