Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On Hiatus Because Concussion

The title pretty much says it all, but here's the story: in late March, I went down a super fast playground slide (seriously, beware this thing) at Plateau Park. I came off the end on my feet running, tripped, & faceplanted. On concrete.

This gave me a concussion, unsurprisingly. Five days later, I got what I thought was a cold. After two weeks of increasingly excruciating headaches, exhaustion, nausea, light & sound hypersensitivity, most of which was spent in bed, I went to Emergency.

After blood work & a CT Scan, the doctor explained that I had an acute infection in the ethmoid & sphenoid sinuses, the ones at the back, just under my brain. He told us the symptoms to watch out for should it turn into meningitis (ack!). The nurse pumped me full of fluids, an antiinflammatory, & antibiotics via IV, then I was sent home with a handful of serious painkiller, a prescription for two weeks of antibiotics.

That was a week ago. The infection is mostly better, but the concussion (technically post-concussion syndrome) is still here. Sadly, brains are kinda hard to heal. It takes rest & time. Which sounds simple, but when you look at what that actually means, you'll understand my frustration. Here are some of the things I need to avoid:

  • Screen time. No streaming TV shows, no internet surfing, no YouTube videos, no reading blogs or news articles, no social media. Aaaugh. Just. Aaauuuughhh. I am so addicted to all this stuff.
  • Thinking too hard. I've heard it described as don't think harder than you would have to in a casual conversation. So designing & sewing a superhero costume for your kindergartener, like I did yesterday? Not advisable. Paying for that now.
  • Quick movement or travel. Car trips make me feel quite ill, as does cycling, though to a lesser degree. Even walking fast or turning a corner can give me motion sickness. Walking through a store & scanning sideways, looking for things on the shelves as you normally do while shopping? Ugh. Just can't.
  • Alcohol for six months. No beer. A summer without beer. I cry.
I just can't completely unplug from the digital world. I am trying very hard to minimize it. So my compromise will be no blogging for a while (Thank you for your patience!), but I will be on social media in short bursts most days. If you want to keep up with what I'm doing--it'll be a lot of colouring books, repetetive crafty stuff, podcasts, audio books, & walks, follow me on Instagram. If I can avoid the brain fog, I'll try to remember to use a hashtag: #ConcussionDiaries.

Here's me on Instagram if you're not already following:

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Modo Family

Modo selfie! Easy to park the little Mazda2 for a family lunch
One of the reasons we choose to live in Canada's most expensive city is because, in the neighbourhood where we live, we don't need to drive. We have six frequent bus lines within a ten-minute walk of our house, many bike routes. Our cargo bike can carry more than some small cars can. However, we hardly need to bike to get groceries, go to the post office, community centres, cafes, or parks--we can easily walk to most things in less than 15 minutes.

Easter lunch with my family in Burnaby
But, our family--my two sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces & nephews, my & Oli's parents, our aunts, uncles, cousins--have for the most part chosen the more common suburban home & one car per adult lifestyle. They live in North & West Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Mission, & the Okanagan.

It's a trade off: we pay much more for housing than they do, but then again, we save much more on transportation. I fwe lived somewhere more suburban, less dense, with less cycling infrastructure, outside the range of Modo (or any other carsharing organizations), we'd probably need to own two cars. which costs an average of $8000 per year in the Lower Mainland. The majority of our transportation is by bike, with the occasional transit fare thrown in. Our fleet of bikes cost under $200 a year to maintain--the bikes don't need much work & parts are so cheap. Modo bills & the occasional car rental fees are easy to track. We average less than $2000 a year on our driving.

Buckling up the kids to head out to Mission with Modo
So how do we keep in touch with all our far flung (well, far by transit or bike) relatives without owning a car? Modo.

There are at least a dozen Modo vehicles within a ten-minute walk of our home. & when I say vehicles, I mean compact cars, SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks, hybrids, sedans, even some new luxury cars like a Lexus & BMW have been added to the fleet recently. We can use whatever type of vehicle suits our purpose & only pay when we need it, which tends to be once or twice a month. Paying to maintain & insure a car that just sits there 28 days of the month just doesn't make sense.

My little city kids were excited to meet the neighbour's horse!
The last two times we used a Modo car were perfect examples of what I've been talking about: not sexy outings to gorgeous ski resorts or spontaneous road trips, but keeping connected with family. We drove to Burnaby to have a raucous lunch with my side of the family at a restaurant. The next day we made our way out to Mission to visit Oli's cousins & aunt for Easter dinner.

Disclaimer: As an Official Blogger Ambassador, Modo will be providing me with some driving credits & I'll be blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, & Instagramming about our adventures big & small with Modo. I've already been writing about carsharing for years, so if you've been following me for a while, expect more of the same!

To follow my Modo travels, & the other Modo Blogger Ambassadors (there are a few of us!) click on the hashtags #LetsModo & #MyModo & follow @Modo_CarCoop on TwitterInstagram, & Facebook.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bronte 2.7

Bronte munches a tentacled snack
Things Bronte loves:

  1. Pedalling trikes at the Mount Pleasant Family Centre 
  2. Coasting on her runner bike
  3. Sparkly shoes
  4. Meat, any kind
  5. All sorts of seafood including deep fried squid tentacles & smoked oysters
  6. Riding the deck of a cargo bike
  7. Helping
  8. Dinosaurs
  9. Robots
  10. Dogs
Things Bronte hates:
  1. Clips or elastics in her hair
  2. Long car rides (she seems to get carsick sometimes)
  3. Being strapped into anything
  4. Egg yolks
  5. Waiting, although she is getting more patient
  6. Going to bed early--I think we may need to stop letting her nap soon
  7. When I tell her she can't have 'noms'--she still asks to breastfeed a lot & I'm trying to cut back a little
She's generally a happy little kid, though she's getting really good at throwing a dramatic pout, complete with heavy sigh, full arm & shoulder involvement. She's really a handful, but I keep telling myself that these qualities that drive me nuts now, will serve her well as an older kid & an adult.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

5 Types of People Who Should Do #30DaysOfBiking

It's April, spring has sprung & it's time to get on your bike! In case you needed some inspiration, here's a challenge for you: ride your bike EVERY DAY in April. That's right, every single day, rain or shine, in sickness & in health... or at least try your best to do so!

What the heck am I talking about? Well, 30 Days of Biking is a thing. I didn't just make it up. It's a pledge to ride your bike every day in April, any distance, to any destination, & then share your adventures online. Sharing is caring, right? Hashtag #30daysofbiking, natch.

Also very cool: for every 2 pledges, 30 Days Of Biking will donate $1 to World Bicycle Relief. Help them reach 10,000 pledges in 2016! 

So, on to the list of the five kinds of people who really should do 30 Days of Biking:

  1. Regular Monday to Friday bike commuters who maybe drive, walk or bus on weekends. C'mon guys, you have NO EXCUSE!
  2. Recreational riders who need an excuse to ride more. Here it is. I DARE YOU! ;)
  3. Stay/work-at-home-parents with young kids who are bored of the parks in their immediate vicinity. Rather than rolling out of bed, grabbing the yoga pants & heading to the park two blocks away, strap your toddler into your trailer/child seat/cargo bike & ride somewhere interesting! Bonus points if there's a nice cafe next to the new park! (By the way, we're having a Vancouver Family Biking #30DaysOfBiking Kickoff Coffee Ride Friday, 10am April 1st!)
  4. Non-cyclists who want to jump in with both feet. Maybe starting to ride your bike more often was on your list of New Year's resolutions, or you recently got a bike but haven't used it much. This is your chance! Jump on & pedal! Remember, there's no minimum distance, so you can totally start off slow & work your way up to longer rides during the month. 
  5. Runners training for the SunRun/Fill-the-Charity-in-the-Blank Run/Marathon/whatever. Cycling is great cross training. It's also a great way to get your butt to the seawall or somewhere interesting rather than just running out your front door, around the same loop in your neighbourhood, & back again.

There you have it. Are you one of these 'types' of people? Can you think of another 'type' who should join us in 30 Days of Biking? 

Follow 30 Days of Biking on Twitter and Facebook, too!

& just so you have no excuses about pledging to ride each day, here's the link for you. 
Make the Pledge right here.
If you happen to have time on the morning of Friday, April 1st, join Vancouver Family Biking for a short #30DaysOfBiking Kickoff Coffee Ride. We meet at 10am at Science World & will ride to a park along the seawall for coffee/tea & snacks. We supply the hot drinks, you bring some snacks to share! More details & RSVP here.

See you in the bike lanes!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Sunset through the trees at Queen Elizabeth Park

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#YVRFamilyBiking Easter Bonnet Ride Recap

Gathering for the #YVRFamilyBiking Easter Bonnet Ride
Sunday, March 27 dawned rainy & a bit grey, but the forecast promised sunny skies later in the day. Once we headed out the door it wasn't raining & the wind was picking up, blowing the clouds away.

When we arrived (a bit late, heh) at Science World, the decorating had already begun with many "bonnets" sporting bunny ears, bikes with balloons, easter grass, pipe cleaner springs & stickers.

Once all the families had arrived & had a chance to socialize a bit, we gathered for a group photo (aka official head count) then headed west on the seawall. Thanks for taking this shot, Anthony!

#YVRFamilyBikiing Second Annual Easter Bonnet Ride, March 27, 2016: 42 people!

#YVRFamilyBiking Easter Bonnet Ride Stop #1: the Jellybeans
The wind was chillier than some had expected so a few families left in search of hot drinks & warmer clothing along the first leg of our ride. By our first stop at the Jellybeans in Charleson Park, the headwind was making riding a bit challenging for some of us, especially the little riders. The kids loved the quick break & a few even decided to relocate the red Jellybean!

Once we rolled the giant bean back into place & took lots of photos of various children on & in front of the jellybeans, we got back on our way west.

There were lots of smiles & "Happy Easter!" greetings as we rode along with our balloon bedecked bikes, bunny ears, & waving children. We had quite a few new Vancouver Family Biking members along & they had lots of opportunities to chat as we rolled along the seawall.

Gorgeous day, but a bit windy, as you can see from the chop
Stop two in Hadden Park was planned because of the public washrooms. Once everyone had a chance to use them if needed, we continued on for the less windy part of the route, a bit farther away from the waterfront. We rode through Kits Park, then along the Point Grey bike route. It's always a fabulous place to ride with children since it's so traffic calmed, much of it featuring fully separated facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, & drivers. Parents could relax a bit more since the kids riding their own little bikes didn't have to worry about being hit by parked car doors flinging open or being passed too closely by drivers.

Having some snacks on an improvised picnic blanket
When we arrived at our Jericho Beach park, we headed straight for the feral bunny colony in the blackberry bramble patch near the tennis courts. The kids quickly hopped off the cargo bikes, out of the trailers, & off their own bikes to run around looking for bunnies.

We found a slightly sheltered patch of grass nearby & had a picnic, including chocolate eggs, bagels & hot chocolate shared by various members of the group. I got a chance to talk to a few more new families & overhead lots of conversations about riding, bikes, & gear.

Besides the usual complement of front & rear seats, child trailers & trailabikes, we had three Surly Big Dummy longtail bikes, two Yuba Mundo longtails, & a Yuba El Boda Boda midtail. We also bumped into friends riding their three box bikes: a Metrofiets, a CETMA, & a hand built frame. Cargo bike party at Jericho!

#YVRFamilyBiking Easter Bonnet Ride: Picnic time at Jericho Beach Park
After everyone had eaten, families headed out in smaller groups when they were ready to go. The breeze had died down a bit, but it was now a tailwind, helping us home. It was so sunny & bright I think I may have gotten a bit sun burnt!

Overall, it was a great turnout--42 people at Science World--& a fun ride. Having planned stops along the way worked well so the kids could run around a bit & the riders could get a chance to take a quick break. We'll definitely do that again. I'd like to start planning two rides a month--one like this one (9km each way) or longer, & one shorter than this, maybe 5km maximum.

Do you have any feedback from the ride that could help make the next one better? I welcome your suggestions below! Let me know if you have any ideas of destinations or routes for future rides, too! Thanks!

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