Cycling Adventures

Last summer on our trip to the Cairngorms, we hired bikes and a weehoo trailer for a day’s outing.  It was such a hit with the wee guy, that we decided to acquire our own for family cycling adventures.  It has not had too much use yet, since the weather has been a bit dodgy and the doctor was away for the best weather we have had in the past few months. However, upon his return, we hit the cycle path around Loch Leven for a picnic bike ride.

It was a glorious afternoon and we had a lovely ride.

The loch looked marvellous.

So lovely to be out and about.

New Year

It seems a little silly to be recording my New Year’s Resolutions now, in February… But so far 2010 has kinda caught me by surprise and for a number of reasons, I have gotten off to a very slow start.  So here I am, bearing in mind that it is also the start of a decade, resolving afresh to do all the usual things (be better with money, eat well, exercise more blah blah blah) and also hoping to take a longer view of my aspirations.

I’ve also been reflecting on my thoughts at the start of last year, when I was heavily pregnant and everything seemed to be on ‘pause’ while we waited to see who would arrive and how he/she would impact on our lives.

This year we are in limbo again as we look ahead to the end of our time in the US and try and imagine where we will end up next.  Once again this is totally determined by Akira’s career choices, which is fair since that is why we made the big move to come here.  But I am hoping that this year might bring some clarity for me in terms of potential career-changing new directions.

So what am I resolving to be purposeful about as we enter 2010?

  1. I may need to change the title of the blog as this is the year for returning to the paid workforce in some manner.  Ideally I would like this to be ‘part-time’ so that I can still be primarily focused on caring for Kazuo.  But the increased costs of being resident aliens (we are now ‘substantially present’ here!) and childcare may impact on that decision.  With this in mind, I have applied for a work permit this week, so it will be a few months yet before I can seek out employment, but we are making progress on childcare options for Kazuo…so Not Working may take a change of direction…
  2. I did what I could to stay somewhat politically engaged over the past year and hope to at least maintain my regular attendance at Amnesty International meetings.  Whether I can sustain any more active involvement really hinges on the outcome of point 1.
  3. We need to totally trim down our food outgoings…at the same time that Kazuo is ramping up his solid food intake – sheesh!  So, more creative ideas need to kick in really soon (have been rather meticulous about this lately… doing OK so far) for healthy food that we all love, that is nutritious and appetising and that keeps down the costs.  Being a working mama may erode this resolution… and it seems like a tall order – but imperative nonetheless.
  4. The weather is really cramping my exercising style – last year it took until September to lose the baby weight, but it DID go…now I need to lose my winter layer!  I am keen to get Kazuo and I back on my bike in some fashion in the Spring.  Perhaps Akira and I both need to join a gym…
  5. I still wanna get crafty for cash…I have a few ideas but they do require capital and time, both of which are still a little scarce.  But after the Fall craft shows in STL last year, I felt newly energised.  So need to make this a priority I think.
  6. I would like to become a slightly more chilled out individual this year – I know that seems unlikely, but it might be good for all concerned.  So I guess I need to look out some me-time things that make me feel connected to others, and to myself…yoga? date nights? getting arty/crafty? more weekend girly time? naps?…ideas anyone?
  7. Time for doing the things I love…reading, watching films, listening to music, going to theatre…hmmmm I need to make these things somehow fit into family life.
  8. Kazuo is my number one priority these days…so it is only fair to say I am pretty much resolved to help him grow into a happy little guy.  Guess that goes without saying though…
  9. Become a little more other-centred again.  Life became very insular when adjusting to the newness of parenting, but we are getting a little into the swing of that now, and should have a bit of a hiatus before we consider whether we will go down that route again, so I think that in considering paid employment and any ‘spare’ time I may have, I am keen to think about how I might make my time count for those in less abundant circumstances.
  10. Cultivating wonder was a priority last year, and as I had imagined, Kazuo gave plenty of opportunity for that to happen. Getting outside into the natural world and continuing to foster that wonderment is also important for me right now.   I wish to combine that with an increased sense of gratitude this coming year…

So, that is enough I think.  The year ahead will be galvanising for me personally, for our family life and for Kazuo’s development.  I look forward to seeing how it will all pan out, and hope that having at least some sense of purpose will help when things seem a little murky.

Out and About in the Sun

This morning, the sun streamed through our windows, the baby woke at dawn, it was cool and crisp outside, and this is how the neighbourhood was looking:

Sunny Morning

We busied about getting ready to enjoy the day… coffee, cereal, showers, rugging up for the cool outdoors… and then Akira biked off to work. Kazuo and I walked up the hill to Companion Bakery, St Louis artisanal bread makers who also do a good morning coffee.



En route, Akira called to say he had come off his bike due to some slippy leaves near the campus, but was OK, a bit battered (and so maybe is the bike… eeek) but otherwise in shape still… you just don’t think of leaves as being treacherous, but I guess biking is always a bit of a precarious activity, even while it is also one of the best ways of getting around… sigh.

Kaz had a little nap while I sipped my coffee and began reading some of the essays on memory in an anthology edited by AS Byatt, then he woke up and joined me at the table for some little cereal snacks:

At Companion

Then we ventured to the supermarket across the road for some celery and red lentils before strolling home in the sunshine… The wee guy spent an hour or two happily playing in the sunny living room before his lunchtime nap.

Playing with Monkey

And so I have a few moments in the sun to muse on how thankful I am… for sunny mild weather that ALWAYS boosts my spirits, for an intact husband and the relief of a narrow-miss accident, for a sleeping baby – both in the stroller this morning and now over lunch, for tasty bulghur chilli bubbling on the stove and for the prospect of a peaceful afternoon in the sun.  Grateful still…


Tour of Missouri

Monday was Labour Day, a holiday here in the US (like in many developed nations) that celebrates the worth of the worker… though we are not too sure just how many Americans would know that… in any case, it was a lovely day to finish up a rather variable long weekend.  We set off for downtown St Louis after Kazuo’s nap and gathered, with many others, in the City Garden to watch some circuits of the first stage of the Tour of Missouri.  The Post Dispatch has posted a great video summarising the day’s events.

City Garden

Having avidly watched a number of Tour de France races over the years, we were not sure why we hadn’t realised that this race was such a big deal.  There are some big names in cycling who make the 612mile trek across Missouri for more cycling glory and so it was exciting to get out and see some live peleton action.

The race was dominated for the first 8 circuits by these three – Moises Aldape (Team Type 1) of Mexico, Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) of Lithuania, and  Chris Anker Sorensen (Team Saxo Bank) of Denmark, who formed a breakaway and were only caught up by the peleton towards the end of the race.  So we didn’t get to see any sprinting action while we were out spectating, but the breakaway three were doing a really tough job.


The peleton sped past us so quickly each time, it was impossible to distinguish any of the riders with any certainty, but inevitably, Team Columbia were dominating the pack from the start.


Here they are snaking their way round the final corner to streak eastward on Market St towards the finish line – they made such a striking sight as they swooped round the corner (such a pity my camera is not up to impressing you with this vision!):

Snaking Peleton

We managed to stay for several circuits, but – in order to get the wee guy home and beat the traffic rush – we headed home before the end… so we missed the pile-up where poor Christain Vandevelde broke a finger, and we missed Mark Cavendish’s triumphant sprint across the finish line to win the yellow jersey for the day… but we’d had a lovely time spectating in the sun and were grateful to have seen some top cyclists up close.  Kazuo had a prime vantage point and seemed to really love watching all the action zooming past:


Madsen Cycles

The crazy people at Madsen Cycles are giving away one of their AMAZING bikes each week!!  I dream of getting back on the bike with Kaz, and imagine putting him and the groceries in the basket… sigh… Anyway, do click on the link at the right of this post and send some traffic their way courtesy of me… and who knows, in some weird universe (unlike the one I am currently in, where I NEVER win anything…) I may win the bike of my dreams.  Hehe.