Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tis the Season in Tex-as

Howdy Y'all,
Uuum, well... we went to a delightful little holiday lights/Christmas in the Park thing tonight and, it really was a wonderful time. Especially since it was free!

The best part was probably the hayrack ride, but to Ben the best part was the PILE OF SNOW that they brought in (presumably from somewhere cold. Probably Alaska).
Unfortunately for me, both camera batteries were dead/dying and there was not enough time to get it adjusted for taking decent pictures. Fortunately for us this happens AGAIN next weekend! We will for sure be back! Free cookies and hot cocoa afterall. Now to just convince Jared to bake something for the baking contest!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cup Cakes errrr frosting

We enjoy mixing it up in how we spend our evenings.
Sometimes it is silly stuff like making milk blue, but other times it is delicious stuff like making/coloring frosting for cupcakes!

True story is that we were playing Candy Land and I had drawn the cupcake (for the 324 time. I always get the @#$!ing cupcake). Ben saw it and declared that he wanted to make cupcakes. I thought: who wouldn't!? So we made cupcakes and frosting.

I walked in at one point and snapped this shot. I immediately walked out. They were clearly sneaking something and not telling me about it.

Here is Ben's lesson in frosting:

Mix it gently as to not make a mess.

Dip Finger. Fall in love.

Question the purpose of the whole cupcake part anyway. Next time I am fairly certain he will just ask to make cupcakes.

Which reminds me of a delightful book we have called If you give a cat a cupcake.

It is a great story and closely parallels what happens when you give a 2yr old a cupcake.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blue Milk

Sometimes... The little things are what make parenting worth it all.

Jared always pesters Ben, who regularly asks for "fresh milk." In Jared's ...Jaredness, he questions Ben's request with return questions such as "you want... red milk?" "you want... yellow milk?" "you want... blue milk?" To which Ben always replies "noooo daaaaddyyyyy" with a snicker.

Ben, being the growing individual that he is, has caught on though. And finally told Jared "Yes!" one of these times. Being the consistent parent that Jared is...... he made Ben blue milk.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Oooh Texas. You have isolated us, but we shall not be held down! We shall still cook delicious meals and give thanks for ...stuff.

We still made ourselves some sweet taters.

And Jared picked up a wee little chicken to wrap up in bacon and to stuff with stuffing. Whoah was that good.

Even Ben enjoyed a bit of it, as did Homer who is our friend Betsy's new little puppy. Oh yes, Texas, we even managed to not celebrate alone! No no! We grabbed someone else who was far from family! Thanks again for joining us, Betsy!

We even made some apple piiie. Yum.

So aside from not having family around, it wound up being a pretty lovely little, normal thanksgiving. We even went for a walk after dinner, but before pie, over to the park!

One of the strangest things was that it was still warm. 60 degrees on Thanksgiving? That will throw these Iowa folk for a loop!

What was even More strange was the Thanksgiving potluck that happened at work. Fortunate for me, none of them know about this little space of internet that I occupy, so I feel that I can share. It wasn't strange in a "bad" way anyway though, just in a "ahhh, people are just people." sort of way.
You see, in the administrative offices, they are well a bunch of prudes. Not all, but some. One in particular. We'll call her...Snude. Just for the hell of it. She is the lady who, no matter what you say, she can one-up it... even when it really isn't better. And this is about Everything. Well I had the pleasure of sitting in her vicinity during the potluck and somehow, one of the ladies started telling the story about beating the crap out of her ex-husband's girlfriend outside of wal mart or something and going to jail for it. Snude proceeds to jump in and tell a similar story involving one of her [4] ex-husbands. She of course did not get arrested for it though, but claimed she probably should have.
My boss (not in the admin services and not a prude) turns and asks one of my other co-workers if she had ever been to jail. "no!" She didn't ask me. Come to think of it, she didn't ask herself either!! I have never been in jail. Can you imagine if there would have been alcohol involved at this potluck?!?!
Later Snude gave me a dirty look for sharing that Jared did not know my middle name when we bought our Iowa house together.

It really felt like family. I enjoyed it.

I like my job. I like Thanksgiving, too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Twinkle Twinkle

We like daycare.
Not just because it gives us a few hours in our day to not have to be playing trains or dinosaurs, but also because Ben gets to do all sorts of new things with new people. We believe it is good for him.
Apparently, they sing quite a few songs at daycare. One day when we picked Ben up, continued singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over again. He would sometimes switch straight into singing the alphabet... probably on accident. They used to do songs at his other daycare too. We knew because he would do the motions to things like The Wheels on the Bus before we ever showed them to him.

So anyway. I'm not sure there was too much more of a point to this, but here is Ben helping me sing along. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Early Morning drizzle

This morning, while walking into work after parking my bicycle, I saw a man who looked as though he could be Roger Baer's brother.

Roger, on the right.

And he was riding a bicycle like this:

He was wearing a white dress shirt and dark dress pants. Probably a librarian? (he was parking at the library...). It had rained this morning, so the roads were still drying out. Since it isn't particularly cold here (70 degrees this morning at 8am) I figure the next best excuse someone could make to not ride would be... rain!

And it gave me hope for the world for some reason.

That perhaps there are more Rogers in the world and that perhaps everyone really could commute to school. I wish I would have gone and talked to that man. Ah well, I'm sure i'll see him around. There are only so many roger baer-esk men riding bikes to campus and parking at the library at 8am. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pac Burley

Well! The PacBurley is nearly complete and ready for Halloween. All it needs now is a few folks dressed in costumes to parade it around on Halloween night.

The designer in me knew that we needed to take it for a test run before Halloween arrived. The plan is to join the regular Monday night social ride and do the short loop before returning into town to begin trick-or-treating. That means that the rig will have to hold up for at least 15 miles or so. To test it, we rode out on a new road to a little park called Lick Creek park.

The park is a wonderful little surprise, despite the ugly brochure, just 8.5 miles from our house, making it a perfect Burley pulling distance. The main trail is a well packed gravel type with a number of side trails that are more single-track style. It seemed everyone around brought their dogs to walk/run. Probably because if you walk/ride in College Station you wind up getting hit by things like motorcycles.

Most importantly, our burley contraption worked! The Pac-Man rubs a bit against the wheel, but we realized that if we just cut it a bit, he'll be juuust fine. We even found some battery powered Christmas lights to string up along the back. They looked Awesome as we rode home in the sunset.

So now it only has to survive one more voyage! We're not sure whether it will stay on afterwards or not... it might be hard to part with. My guess though is that by the end of Halloween night it will be dangling by a few strands of twine and some tape, begging to be put out of its misery.

Still no rear wheel for my road bike...........

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cleat Defeat

The last few rides have presented me with the most unpleasant experience of unexpectedly becoming unclipped from my pedals. This was generally happening on steep climbs or during a hard interval. Neither time being convenient and at least once resulting in a tipping over. So I finally bit the $9 bullet and bought a new set of cleats. The local bike shop actually had them cheaper than anywhere online. Bike things are rarely that great of a deal online these days, just fyi. Not that there needs to be another reason to support your local bike shop, but... there is a pretty good one!

The task of replacing cleats is generally extremely simple. Unscrew two screws, replace parts. Easy.

These cleats however have apparently been in my shoes, which have been ridden forever, for quite a while. So upon taking out the first screw. The screw stuck to my multitool. Crap.

The second screw wouldn't budge. It instead stripped out the head into a circle shape. Well this is a conundrum. Now how do I get it out!? So after e-mailing out to the local mt bike club for suggestions, one came back of using a dremel to make a straight line so that a flathead screwdriver would fit. After a few rounds with the dremel, I finally got it to work. Finally, at 4:46pm, 15minutes before I needed to leave for the group ride! Yesss!!!

Riding was great. I did a fast lap with one of the guys, Mike, and then joined up with the group ride at 6:15 until it was dark. Good, clean ride.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Spirit of Adventure

Planned ride for today:

60 mile fast group ride.

Reality: Broken road wheel. No go.

New Plan:

Take a family ride at the Somerville Lake trails.

Reality: We ready ourselves, a little cooler of lunch goods, the diaper bag, our bikes. Great! We're off.
5 minutes down the road me: "honey, we don't have the multi-tool..."
Jared: "ooooh, we better go get it."
So we do. Good. Whew.
Per usual on our family rides, we stop to get donuts beforehand. We don't "looove" donuts or anything, we just like kind of trashy, cheap places with interesting people. So places like "Donut Palace" out in Skook Texas makes for a delicious 3 person $2.15 breakfast. I mean, REALLY, where else can you get breakfast for a price like that? Benjamin thanked the donut princess (it was a donut palace... and she didn't look quite old enough to be a Queen... perhaps she was just a palace chef...?) about a dozen times which made her just about pee her pants with happiness and we continued on.

We made it to the lake and as usual at state parks there is an entrance gate of sorts where you have to park and purchase a day pass. Upon getting out of the car, we see a mom, dad and child (8 or so? 9?) on bikes. So I ask them if they knew if we had to pay to get in and where the trails started.
The mom says "yep, you get a pass in that building, the trails start down thattaway."

So we go inside, the family following behind us, a group of boyscouts in front of us. As we wait, the mom says "We have a season pass, you should let us get you in." So we did, and as the cashier drills her on how many of us there are, how many vehicles, the colors, our ancestry, rate of inflation on a cup of coffee if it originally cost $.75 in 2001 and today costs $1.13......... Okay, those last few were a lie, but she asked a lot of questions. Then proceeded to charge the mom $28. We asked her how much we owed her for our portion and she refused. Nice! We ask where we should park and the mom points us to either the visitor lot, or to their campsite which was right at a trailhead. So we go for the campsite.

Their son's bike had gotten a flat on the way back to the campsite, and the LEAST we could do was offer up our bike pump.

So we load up and carry on, but the trail was mostly just sandy, mowed grass. Too much work for Jared who keeps spinning his rear tire out and barely any work for me. So we scratch this riding plan too.

New new plan:

Ride on the road until we find another road to ride on and ride on it until we feel enough time has passed. WHAT CAN GO WRONG!??!

Reality: We cruise along some delightful roads, windy and slight rolling hills. Rolled past ranches, oil rigs, dogs chasing us. A wonderful time.

Me: "hmm, I think my cleat on my shoe has come loose or something...feels weird..."
Jared: "uh oh"

**~90 seconds later...


My lady business is on my top tube, my elbows are cocked backwards as my chin is just about resting on my stem. My toes are dragging along the ground in some attempt to both maintain my balance and stop me. Now I know what kids on those Strider bikes feel like!!!

Jared looks back as this MUST have sounded and looked AWFULLY confusing. //really i was just trying a new, more aero position...//

It would appear that a very important bolt had been wiggling itself loose.

All I know is that these became my new brakes:

They aren't the Avid BB7s I'm used to on the El Mar but amazingly, they did the trick!

Good thing we went back for that multi-tool...

All better-ish! Good enough to get us back anyway. FIRST things first, some lunch.

Now, usually when we get back from adventure around a park, we let Ben play at a playground, load up and head home. Today however, those nice nice people from the beginning of the story were at their campsite. Their son had received another flat tire so they gave up for the afternoon and in the meantime had unloaded Literally as much food as we probably have in our house. And it was all Great. I mean.... those fancy Terra chips, Kettle chips, a Huge sack of "organic" oranges (whatever organic means these days), sandwich materials, grape tomatoes, jugs of water and iced tea, and on and on and on. That wasn't just it, they also had 2 fans plugged in and going for under their shade tent thinger, an iPod speaker music playing contraption, and a Suburban filled with other mystical, entertaining things. They had this camping business down. And and and they offered every morsel of it up to us in that fashion that was almost awkward seeing how we had Nothing to give in return. Nothing. Would you like a smelly sock that has been roaming around in the back of our car for 4 months? And we sat and chatted with them at their loaded picnic table for the next 4 hours about little tidbits of nothing, museums, camping adventures, raccoons, food, etc..

The hospitality of these folks was ...unheard of. We arrived as complete strangers and left being treated as if we had been their life-long, loyal friends.

We drove home in the late afternoon, after a week from hell, reminded that there is good in the world. That was better than any ride either of us could have possibly planned.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Motorcycle Mayhem

I had just finished one of my faaavorite interval workouts. Remember... training for Breckenridge is targeting my weaknesses, hills and endurance. This workout is neither of those! Awesome!

15 minutes - warm up (increasing intensity)
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery
5 x (40 sec. very high intensity – 20 sec. low intensity)
3 minutes recovery

I then proceeded to complete a second loop just because it was gorgeous out and I needed another 40 minutes.
As I was cruising home in a delightful bikelane, it occured to me that a motorcycle who was all of a sudden riding up beside me, TAKES A RIGHT HAND TURN and takes me out.

Note me, the blue arrows, in my straight and clear bike lane. Note motorcycle's path...

Now, I am very level headed and calm such situations. But this time it appears being run into by a motorcycle cluttered my mind as I was absolutely dumbfounded as the guy asks me
"DO YOU HEAR THAT BEEPING? That is my blinker signaling that I'm about to turn."
To which I responded: "Yeah, I heard your blinking, and a: I didn't know what the hell it was and b: didn't know Which way you were turning and c: IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE I HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY!"
Except that the dumbfoundedness of his question left me without clear enough mind to add part "c"

Anyway, now I need to get to a bike store and get my wheel fixed...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Night MTB

Every Tuesday is a group ride out at Lake Bryan. The sun is starting to go down sooner and sooner and this is more than heartbreaking. Someday when I get a big-kid job, I will invest in some lights. Until then we may just have to find a new time to ride!

To make group riding a possibility, Jared and I take turns. This week it was his turn to go ride from 5:30-6:15 solo and my turn to take the rest of the daylight with the group. The person not riding gets to throw rocks into the lake with Ben or take him for a walk or do whatever else it is you do with a 2yr old out in nature. All the while Ben is just wishing his girlfriend, Dora were along for the sunset as mom's backpack is not nearly as awesome.

It is a fairly enjoyable time, there are nice views such as this one:

Tonight, not many new riders showed up so it was a much quicker pace. This is a relief as according to my chore list, Tuesday and Thursdays are supposed to be hard rides. In doing it faster, I nailed 2 sections that I had previously had to put a foot or two down to get over. Exciting. There is now only ONE spot, one goddamn rooty climb in the whole 20mile trail system that I have yet to clear. I think there is a small part of me that doesn't want to clear it. It gives me something to come back for, a challenge to conquer. I feel a bit like once I clear it all, then all that is left is to ride it faster and faster each time. I suppose that is Okay.

Do: try to clear at least 1 new thing each ride.
Do not: forget chamios buttr.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Group

As "winter" presses closer, so do shorter days. I put that word in quotes because now that we are in Texas we are convinced that we will not actually experience "winter" as we know it. Though down here they swear it gets rough. Dear Texans, I have looked through your photo albums and notice you are in short sleeve shirts at Christmas and the sun is shining. That is NOT winter. Winter is snowy and lurking with gray skies and cold so cold that you look like THIS after a ride:

Anyway, the Monday night group ride takes off at 6pm and is ~70 minutes long. This is mostly due to the casual, social pace of the ride. We LOVE it because it is the perfect pace to be able to pull the Burley and still keep up. We always do our best to reward Ben at the end of each ride with a stop at the park. Since the sun sets at 7:15 and the ride goes until 7:15 or so, we were sure to add an excessive amount of lights to our rides for the way home. Ben especially likes this as the blinking fascinates him. We are fairly certain he will be a tripped out hippie by the age of ...7.

Especially if he keeps attempting to fix cowbells with screwdrivers.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The little things... like garbage

We love Ames... let me add just one more reason.... and maybe this happens elsewhere and I really can't wait to find out if it does.

If we forget to put our trash out. The trash gents bring orange barrels to where we've left our garbage thing...

and take our trash from there out to the garbage truck.

I mean... a nice restaurant builds a reputation off of quality food and great service. Grocery stores say "where there's a helpful smile, in every aisle." but not to many people think about their garbage Service. So this morning I say "thanks" Chitty garbage for some great trash service, because we are Totally forgetful and you still take care of us. Win.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Welp, Jared did it.
errr, is doing it. At this very moment, he is defending allll of the blah blah, narfa narfa that he has been working on here at ISU for the past however many years.
His creation is complete:

Wrong image. That is our future mode of transportation... not jared's research.

THIS is jared's research:

Yeah I know, R. L. Stine came up with this stuff YEARS ago ...and called it Monster Blood:

Significantly more interesting than ....Jared's benzobisblahblahnarfanarf. ;) I don't think the Monster Blood is organic though... Organic in the carbon sense, not in the "USDA Certified Organic" stuff. I have a feeling you wouldn't want to eat or drink jared's research. Then again, would you want to drink Monster Blood? ......"well, if it had an organic stamp on it, of course!"

Where was I?
Oh yes! Jared is done!! In the past 5 years he's gotten some publications, some university awards, some honor cords, some ACS award, a taekwondo black belt, a Benji-pooper, and of!

Yep, Jared has grown from this:

to this:


Anyway.........Congrats, Jared. Love you. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Yep, getting hitched someday.

Well family, Jared finally did it. He finally popped "the" question. You know the one. The one that everyone has been asking about for well over 2 years... And yep, I said "yes"

He asked on the 4th day of our RAGBRAI journey. ...after 240 some bicycle miles he must have been delirious enough to go for it. Now, we didn't do RAGBRAI the normal way (Usually you start on the western edge of Iowa and ride all the way across the state until the Mississippi). Instead we rode our bikes out to the start of RAGBRAI in a small group, and then hopped into the chaos. We did this self-supported... pulling our tent, sleeping pads, food, clothes, etc in a trailer behind a bike. ...whoah, talk about a workout.
I must tangent here for a moment. One of the most inspiring parts of cycling is when the ride is over (for me at least). When you look back to the moments when you Swore your legs would not push over one more pedal stroke, where you begged quietly in your head for a serious mechanical issue to end it all, or pray for some truck to offer to pick you up and drive you to the end. But somehow, something within us gets us to keep pushing beyond what we would have ever expected our bodies to be capable of. The moments of determination where you decide not to give up... those are the priceless victories that no one gives prizes or schwag for (unless that turning point happens in a race that you end up winning, I suppose), but that are certainly wroth at least 15 experience points. Along our ragbrai journey, i'd say we ALL hit at least one of those moments, and won. Awesome.
What made it even better was digging through that challenge with Jared alongside! He has never taken on such a physical challenge, and like every other challenge we've barreled through together, we conquered it with flying colors, crap-tons of food, countless cornfield pee stops, and a few saddle sores (our other challenges have unfortunately not previously included the extra elements).
So on that 4th day of our journey, when we were slamming a couple of smoothies underneath of a shade tree together Jared pulls his keychain out of a plastic baggie that had been in his sweaty jersey pocket. On the keychain he had been carrying the ring around. As he fumbles to take the ring off, he asks me to marry him.

Happy RAGBRAI indeed.