Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New frontiers by bike

Wednesday marks the last day of F's very first year of school. Perhaps given my own background in teaching, I always try to be particularly thoughtful about recognizing my children's teachers for all their hard work and care. Thankfully, so far the boys' school experiences have been quite positive so I haven't had any trouble sincerely thanking their maestras, and I always make it a point to hand write a note of gratitude.

Because I know most adults really don't need another coffee mug and many teachers already have a stash of really nice smelling candles and/or lotions, I tend to lean towards gift cards (mostly for local book stores or ice cream shops) for the fellows' teachers. However, inspired by a recent freezer-paper-stenciling and wine-drinking-session with some friends, I decided to go a totally different route for F's four teachers this year. So on Sunday, I designed a stencil reading "CH 3s"-- the school's initials and 3s for the fact that he is in the three-year-olds' room, known as the threes' class. I first thought I would make it like an element listed on the periodic table which didn't really work. Then I tried to do a knock-off of the Superman logo, thinking that women who spend their days with a multitude of toddlers (and don't have a reality show paying them handsomely) really have well-earned such superhero status. The boys especially liked this, but it wasn't quite working for me. I ended up going very simple and created two stencils: one positive image and one negative one.

I got to work stenciling two blank t-shirts from a recent bulk purchase I made from American Apparel (hand-stenciled shirts all around for gifts this year!), but realized that I still needed two more shirts. Yesterday as I headed off to school on the xtracycle Radish with the boys, I decided that I just couldn't face getting into the car later to hit a local-ish shopping center for two blank shirts. While I technically live in a city, much of my shopping (when not done online and much of my shopping is one online) has happened in the town just north of us. However, the strip in this town with the strip malls is far from bike friendly and I don't think I have ever seen a cyclist on this road. However, I realized that there's a bike trail that runs behind some of these shopping plazas and in fact, I could get to Old Navy by bike.

So after school, off we set. I didn't know how far a ride it would be and I didn't know how long it would take us, but I have committed to biking instead of driving whenever possible. In many ways--especially on the hills-- I was glad we were on the xtracycle instead of the bakfiets. Getting to the bike path was a somewhat hairy ride but we did so in one piece. I did have to tell the guys a few times to stop screwing around on the back. Advantage bakfiets, here. Normally the boys hang out and read in the cargo box so are quite contented. On the back of the xtra, they have to pay a bit more attention, especially to holding on. In the baks, they can mess around and because that bike is so heavy, it really doesn't affect my riding. The xtra became quite wobbly though when the boys started their poking games. I think the words, "If you don't stop, I am pulling this bike over" may have left my mouth at some point during the first part of the ride. Once we were on the bike path, however, the ride became pretty idyllic. I now allowed C to stretch out his arms and yell rollercoaster-like, something I had immediately put the kibosh on when he tried it on a heavily-trafficked road earlier. It was so pleasant being on a paved road, lined on one side by trees, devoted only to bikes and the occasional dog walker. It was fun to cruise along not worrying about a whizzing four-wheeled vehicle buzzing by my left side. At some point, we did run into some police officers on foot who were clearly looking for something or someone but we didn't ask questions and just kept riding.

In the end, we made it to the store and we picked up the shirts, stopped in to the market for some chocolate milk, and headed back on our way. The return trip confirmed that we do need to replace the saddle of the Radish-- we are going for the classic Brooks leather saddle that we have on both our other bikes-- but we got home safely, albeit a bit sweaty. Later that night, after my crafting was done, I decided to see just what distance I had ridden that day. With the commute to school and the shopping trip after-- just under 18 miles! Yay! And all done in a pair of purple Mary Jane's....

And for those of you interested, here are the shirts we made:





6 comments:

Jennifer said...

You rock Sara!

Andrea said...

How cool--I love the shirts. I have been a lame teacher-gifter since day one (after M's preschool graduation I managed a bouquet of "wildflowers"--weeds--for each of his teachers--compare that to the very expensive spa gift certificate M's friend's mom gave them--and nothing ever since!! I have high hopes of doing better this year, but the days left in the school year are winding down to single digits--yikes!!) And yay for bike paths and 18-mile rides with heavy cargo. You are amazing, woman!!

MamaVee said...

I love them. and the tags too!

Filigree said...

Totally off topic, but I am a fountain pen user and notice that the name "Julia" is written in nice italic lettering. Don't tell me your kid wrote that?..

sara said...

no, that was me (with the julia writing), not with a good fountain pen actually but with one of those cheapy calligraphy ones. i love the idea of fountain pens but haven't found a nub i am in love with (& i am very particular about my pens) but my hubby writes with one...

MamaVee said...

oh forgot to say your biking rocks!! I alwasy wanted to use that bike path but didnt know how to get there from home...