Saturday, December 27, 2014

Then we bought a house

Well, I feel like it's less that we bought a house and more that we're now paying off a 30 year debt. We are still going to be in Oakland and are still in the same church ward. Everywhere is still as bike-able and walkable as before. So that's a plus!

I was originally hesitant to say that it's a fixer upper because it's livable. But a friend told me, "It has emerald green carpet. It's a fixer upper." It's small, less than 1000 sq feet. It has lots of growing potential and a 2 car garage that we definitely don't need that can transform into living space in the future.

Some "before" pictures! I took these last Saturday, which was the first time I saw it without the previous tenant's belongings in it. I was a little overwhelmed with how much work needs to be done.

Master Bedroom. Fancy green carpeting.

Large, walk-in master closet. Look at that particle board closet organization system!
We took out that particle board shelf and this is the carpet directly underneath it.

Gotta go buy a washer and dryer that'll match the 1980s linoleum.

The bathroom has been updated more recently than the rest of the house

It could still use some love, though.

Tiny kids room, featuring vertical blinds!

The living room also has vertical blinds and cable hookups. The kids' room and master bedroom also had cable hookups. And I think the dining room does, too. Not sure who needs that much cable.

Aw... look at the baby kitchen! We plan on expanding it out when we save up money.

This is the kitchen window from the outside. It has shelves for potted plants! Yay herb garden!

Gigantic yard! The best part of the house. We have lots of plans for this place.
We won't move in until we have every inch of the walls and ceilings painted and the carpet taken out and something else (not sure what) put in. The previous tenant had been there 10-12 years and had a dog, so these steps are all necessary. I'm guessing our move-in date will be later in January. Painting is happening as I type and we still need to find a flooring solution. The next big project this summer will be a new roof (it's on its last leg, but at least not leaking yet!)

It's a lot to handle right now with school, nannies, a house, and kids. My knitting is going on a back burner for a little bit. McKay keeps thinking I need to take more off my plate, but I'm not sure what I'd take off. I like teaching YW at church. I like taking LLL phone calls and emails. I like knitting. I like my programming class. What am I supposed to take off? I'll just keep pushing through. That'll work. And if it's too much, my body will give me mastitis or something; it's generous like that.

We just hired a new nanny to replace our other 3-day/week nanny who is moving out of the country for half a year. So that'll be something new and fun. She's from Brazil and speaks fluent Portuguese. Now I'm wondering if we should switch Margaret from Spanish to Portuguese. Hmm.

I really need to get a job once my schooling is done to pay for all of this.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Here's my special announcement!

A couple of months ago I sent a pattern to They wrote back saying they thought I was crazy, but they loved it. It's published now!!

If you are looking for a skirt to wear on Pi Day (3/14/15) next year, go find your needles!!! STAT!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

How My School Stuff is Going

I don't know whether to call this bootcamp a "school" since when I tell people I'm going to school full-time, they imagine midterms and finals and breaks between classes. This is 9-5 M-F. You don't do those types of hours in high school (you get out by 3!) and you don't do those types of hours in college (classes when you feel like scheduling them and sometimes whole afternoons or mornings with no classes!). Even when I worked, I worked at an elementary school I didn't have a 9-5 schedule. I think maybe calling it "job training" is more accurate? I don't know. It's a programming bootcamp.

I think it's going well, despite my own inner battles about identity and purpose. I have a bit of a leg up in that I've taken Intro to Programming classes in a couple of different languages before. I know a bit of the vocabulary and I'm a pretty mean google searcher. No really, I'm a fabulous google searcher. It's why I tried applying to the 100 Hour Board at BYU back in the day. If there was "Professional Google Searcher" career, I'd be running Google Search conferences.

This week we were assigned mentors. I met mine on Monday and we did get some "get to know each other" chat in, but it was also loud at the mentor event and so I think I'll know more about our mentor/mentee relationship as it progresses.

In class we have a main project that we all work on individually with the same specs as each other. There are also warm up exercises with some algorithmic practice work. Also, we have to develop an app of our own design and purpose. I have an idea of what I want mine to be and I've already contacted a couple of companies about their APIs.

The majority of the Colorado class that graduated recently have gotten jobs in the past two weeks. It's a little bit of hope that we'll be in the black after paying for the bootcamp and the nannies. I know whatever future income I do have will cover childcare for the kids, but the fact that we're paying for childcare while I'm not bringing in income means it'll be tight for the next 4 months. Looking forward to April.

Homeschooling while being gone full time is going great, too. We still need Margaret to produce samples of work for the charter school and those aren't being done at the ideal rate, but at least my unschooling mind is totally fine with her not having structured schooling. One of the nannies this week mentioned how much of a sponge Margaret is about everything. She wants to know all the things! Isaac has been picking up a little Spanish. And Linda has been busy learning English.

Meanwhile I'm still juggling a few things. McKay thinks I need to drop at least one of them (ok- he thinks I should drop a lot more). I actually think I'm going to drop being the email-sender for my visiting teaching group. I kind of already dropped the ball on that this month anyway. I try to finish all my classwork at school and not bring it home and I've been successful in that so far. When I do bring it home, it's usually a tough problem and after the kids are in bed, I ask McKay to listen to me talk it out, "So I have this, and then I do this and this and I want this... Oh." Problem solved.

I was listening to this this Marly Bird episode and they were talking about how having limitations imposed on you helps your creativity more than having total freedom. I think having time restraints actually helps me be more productive. I have to prioritize the things that are important and I get more done. Of course "more" does not include laundry or cooking or tidying; that's why I have McKay!

ALSO- I have a big announcement next week! At least, I hope it's next week. If not, it'll be the week after. I'm so excited and I just can't hide it. But it also makes me nervous and I want to hide in a hole and pretend it's not happening at the same time as wanting to share it. Putting yourself out there is hard, yo. I'll be announcing it everywhere, so if you follow me here or on other social media, you won't miss it.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

November Shmovember

I promised on Twitter that I would do a life update this weekend. So here I am!

I have just completed my third week of the bootcamp. I am keeping my head above water and I think it helps that I've taken programming classes in the past and that my brain thinks in math-y/science-y ways. In fact, a couple of weeks before class started, I took my kids to the park, trying to get as much park time with them as possible before I'd start being gone full-time. I remember watching Linda walk across a bridge at the park and thinking, "I remember that's not a parabola, but a catenary." And then I laughed at myself that even as a SAHM taking my kids to the park, I can't not think about math. It was a sign that I needed to be in tech somehow and reaffirmed the decision to do this coding bootcamp.

Now, while I'm keeping my head above water, I'm still learning lots of things and it doesn't all come easily. I'm still unsure if I'll be ready to be a full-on developer in just 6 months (is that really possible?) but I'm ready to be surprised.

The kids have gotten used to the nanny routine. Because his workplace is just a mile away, McKay goes to work after I've left in the morning and he comes home before I get home, so I don't get to interact with the nannies directly to ask if Linda had a nap and how things went. I'm having to let go a lot of control. McKay has been fabulous in picking up all the slack. He's now doing all the laundry and cooking and kids stuff. To be honest, I feel like I'm not doing much except for grocery shopping and nursing, nursing, nursing. When I get home, Linda wants to make up for our lost time by cluster nursing all evening. This means I can't get any programming done at home and I don't get a lot of knitting time. Alas!

Also on the breastmilk front is pumping at school. The instructors were very accommodating in finding a private room that is not a bathroom for me to pump. I only pump at lunch and only do it for myself. Linda doesn't "need" the milk like an infant would; I pump so that I don't get clogged ducts or mastitis. I do leave the milk in the fridge for Linda to have the next day in a cup at lunch, but she doesn't always drink it. In fact, Isaac is the one who probably drinks more of it. Margaret asked to try it, but decided she didn't like it. Ha!

I use a cheap hand pump that I bought a year ago when I was pumping for an adopted baby. I'm able to get 4-5 ounces in about 10 minutes, which is great success especially considering that I'm 21 months postpartum. Not bad at all! Since Linda doesn't drink it all, I've considered donating it to the San Jose Mother's Milk Bank, but that means having to buy storage bags and I haven't gotten around do doing that.

Other life updates? We put an offer on a house a couple weeks ago, but it was turned down. The owner thinks she can get another 100k for it, which we can't offer. Oh well.

Trick-or-treating by bike! The glowing shawls are knit with reflective thread which is shining due to the flash on the camera.
This weekend we are going to start applying for a kindergarten for Isaac. Margaret is still on wait-lists for schools. I think Isaac will actually have an easier time getting into a kindergarten, which should bump Margaret up on the lists for having a sibling in a school. On the other hand, I'm really liking that Margaret can still homeschool while we are both gone all day. She has a lot of classes and opportunities she wouldn't get in school. If I do get a developer job at the end of this, maybe I'll make enough to hire a full-time nanny and keep homeschooling. And next year, we'll get money for Isaac to take classes. How fun would it be for them to take fun classes together?!
Linda as a cat. And McKay.

I can't see that far in advance, though. Just one week at a time. My plans for NaNoWriMo are going to be unfulfilled because of class. Maybe I'll do it next year. Enjoy the Halloween pictures!

Squid Girl and Spider-man

Also, since I'm not updating much here, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter as TopHat8855. I'm also blogging at the Exponent on the first Friday of each month. Here's yesterday's post. I'll still try to post here when I can. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ghost Cats

Quick question Internet:

I have a baby who likes to pretend to be a cat (meowing, crawling, etc), so we thought, "Let's make her a cat for Halloween!" We already have cat ears and can make a tail. But we don't have black pants/shirt.

HOWEVER, whenever we say, "Halloween" she pretends to be a ghost going, "OOOooooOOO" while wearing a blanket.

So... She's 21 months and doesn't really understand Halloween to tell us, "This is what I want my costume to be." What would you have her be? Getting a white sheet for a ghost costume will be about as easy/cost effective as a simple black shirt.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Another life update

So things are slowly coming together. We've secured 2 nannies to split up the weeks taking the kids to their things. That will last through December. One nanny is a close friend and the other is another unschooling mom. I'd like to keep it going through next "semester" to, but just in case, I've been touring schools/day cares.

Because of having no car, we are limited to schools that are either 1)close to our house, or 2) close to McKay's work. There is one school near us and I toured it this week. It's the school I see all the neighborhood kids walking to. Well, it's the school I see all the brown kids walking to. I don't know where the white kids go. I mentioned to my friend who works there, "So Margaret would be the only white kid?" And she said that there's another white kid in the school. This boggles my mind because we definitely have more white kids in our neighborhood than just 1. Well, of our neighbors that are Margaret's age, one goes to a private school and the other goes to a charter school across town, so I guess that's where the white kids go. This school I toured was a charter school (public school is too far away) and so there's a wait list I put Margaret on it.

I still have to tour the two schools near McKay's work. One is a public school, but it's not an Oakland public school. The other is a charter.

Yesterday I toured a daycare for Isaac and Linda. It's nice and play-based. They warned me it's not heavy in academics and I guess some people prefer academics? I'm ok with not pushing academics on my 1 year old and 4 year old! I like it, but again it has a wait list and I don't know how long it'll be until there's a space.

So at least we are covered until January. We'll be still homeschooling and our nannies/babysitters will be taking Margaret to Spanish class and Lego class and such.

Isaac is now 4 so he got to start Hacker Sparks with Margaret, and the Waldorf class we had Margaret in last year is allowing both Isaac and Margaret to go even though neither are kindergarten-aged. They'll love it. That starts next week.

Oh, and I did a triathlon last Sunday. I never got to the "I can't do this anymore" point, but I was being really lazy in the swimming and running sections. I did the bike as hard as I could, but I just didn't care about the others.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Changes

I think I've hinted that big changes have been on their way. Well, they are. And I've signed a contract this morning assuring that they'll happen.

I think in the last post, I mentioned having occasional existential crises from time to time. I've felt stuck for not having much of a resume and not knowing how to get myself out of that hole.

In fact, a lot of the prenatal depression that I had with Linda's pregnancy was due to the fact that I had signed up for a class that summer and was planning on working on getting out of that lack-of-resume hole, only to find out that I was pregnant and I had no idea how to fit that in with my goals.

After Linda was born, I took some free classes on Coursera: organic chemistry, financial planning, environmental studies, Python. After completing the Python class, I had a birthday (yay 28!) and decided to give myself 2 years to finish up some knitting patterns I wanted to publish and other personal projects. Then when I turned 30, I'd apply for some coding bootcamps or get involved in computer programming in other ways and eventually enter the workforce.

In a particular slump this summer, I decided to just peruse available coding bootcamps and saw that there was one that fit me particularly well. It wouldn't start for a while, I could work out money to pay for it, and I was the perfect candidate! I applied. Then I got an email asking for an interview, so I interviewed. Unfortunately the interview went poorly, almost from the get-go. We just did not mesh.

So I expected the rejection email, but it didn't change the disappointment of actually seeing it in my inbox. There were tears. The hopelessness of never getting out of SAHM-ness was confirmed.

Meanwhile, I had a friend just return from living abroad who had done a bootcamp. She encouraged me to go to a front-end workshop in the city on a Saturday with her. She also sent me information on another bootcamp on a random Friday afternoon. I filled it out just to do something and didn't expect much.

But the next week I got an interview, and this time I knew I had impressed them. I knew I'd get the acceptance email and I was silently panicking on the way home from the interview- so much, in fact, that I took the wrong BART and had to get off and on again to get home.

This particular bootcamp had more complications than the other. Instead of not starting for a while, this one starts in October. Instead of being 10 weeks long, this one is 6 months. Both bootcamps are full-time in the city, M-F, 9-5.

Meanwhile, we were having issues with our homeschool charter and applying for others. Would we have to find an actual school now? Would the daycare have openings for our kids?

Right now the plan is to get a nanny who will take Margaret to her classes and we'll keep homeschooling. That's actually turning out to be cheaper than paying for daycare for the 2 younger kids. I'll still tour some schools and daycares because our nanny of choice won't be able to help us out beyond December. She also can only do a few days a week, so we need to find another part-time nanny for the other days. We did switch homeschool charters and found one which will pay for Spanish classes and maybe even some other classes.

This is where unschooling is great. I wouldn't expect a nanny to do any schooling with my kids; a nanny isn't a tutor! But since we don't have a specific curriculum anyway, then there's no worry about Margaret getting her schoolwork done.

Breastfeeding-wise, Linda is 20 months, so if she nurses less often, she's going to be ok. The biggest concern is my own comfort. After that Saturday workshop in the city, I was in pain! I'm probably going to pump a little during the lunch hour just so I don't get mastitis.

I don't know what's going to happen come January. And I don't know what's going to happen when the course finishes in April.

If you got through all of this, congrats! Here's a picture of Isaac. Aww...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Why I don't post about 9/11

CW: intrusive thoughts

I don't think I've ever blogged on or around 9/11 and there's a reason for that. I didn't know anyone in New York or DC. I was a sophomore in high school. But the aftermath of 9/11 was the first big time that intrusive thoughts plagued me.

It's weird having thoughts you don't want and not being able to do anything about it. I couldn't even explain them to you other than that it was highly distracting and sometimes almost escapist. Like daydreaming gone very awry? I don't know.

When the first anniversary of 9/11 was approaching, I realized that what was going on in my mind was getting out of hand and I needed to tell someone. I told my parents. They just told me that it would probably go away over time and figured that the looming anniversary was the cause. Once that passed, it'd go away.

And that sort of is what happened... except that intrusive thoughts didn't go away, they were just less 9/11-related and more related to other issues, usually my own failings. There was a time after I did something that I thought was really horrible, that I kept having suicidal thoughts even though death scares the bejeebus out of me and I wouldn't actually do it or plan it. But can I tell you how scary it is to have thoughts like that that you can't control? Then in college, the intrusive thoughts were more about how I'm not good enough to be in my classes and everyone is going to find out I'm an impostor, even though I really did earn my place. I kind of have a never-ending story of how I'm just never going to be good enough going on in the background.

And this story doesn't even have a "and then I got help and things are better" happy ending because I haven't. I haven't seen anyone about it. And when I recently went to the doctor for a regular check-up and mentioned mood things, I didn't really have symptoms diagnosable as actual depression or anxiety. So who knows? Exercise helps a little. Yay biking! My other coping mechanism is to keep myself so busy that I don't have time to think about anything.

Anyway, 9/11 is a big trigger for me and just reminds me that I don't really have control of my own brain and emphasizes my inadequacy as a human being. I don't really post about it and I don't read about it.

I'll post more news soon. Things are happening around here.

Monday, September 01, 2014

More School Year Stuff

So last week was a stressful time school-wise for us. We have been using a charter school for funds for our classes, but our great teacher retired so we were assigned a new one. She was not really a good fit. On Monday night we got an email saying that our first meeting was Wednesday morning in a library that was one and a half hours away by bike and public transportation. She told us when it was and said if we couldn't make it the other options would be even further away. I wrote back and mentioned we had transportation issues, but we still ended up going on Wednesday so that Margaret wouldn't be cited as a truant.

I was not happy about being told when/where our meetings would be without asking us what would work for us. For example, Margaret had Spanish lesson on Thursday. If that had been Wednesday morning, we would have had to miss the meeting and risk being truants all the while having her in a class!

Also, the teacher didn't seem to want us to use the money for Spanish classes or other "elective" classes. She wants us to buy curriculum, which I'm mostly against. I've seen so many homeschoolers buy curriculum and then have it sit around unused. Why buy curriculum if you can get everything online or at the library for free?

So I ended up telling the teacher that we needed a new ES and that this current arrangement is not going to work out. Three hours of public transportation with 3 kids for a half hour meeting? NOPE NOPE NOPE.

We applied for another charter school that has the same sort of "Independent Study" set up in hope that we'll get a more understanding teacher.

But we are also acknowledging that if none of this works out, then we'll just file the Private School Affidavit and pay for everything ourselves. We'll miss the class money, but maybe the freedom from hoop-jumping is worth it.

During Margaret's Spanish class on Thursday, I went grocery shopping with Isaac and Linda. Here's a picture of the kids in the bike bucket with bags of groceries (made from t-shirts).

And here's a picture of Margaret practicing violin, photography by Isaac.

Friday, August 15, 2014

August update

I've been feeling particularly introverted lately so I haven't been posting much.

"School" is around the corner. Seeing all the first day of school pictures on Facebook and Instagram brings up my reservations about homeschooling. I'm always second-guessing our choice to homeschool. Though, I'd probably be second-guessing any school choice since there are so many to choose from.

Academically and socially, I don't worry about my kids. They've got that down. I just sometimes wonder if they just need the "culture" of it all. And I also wonder if I need the break from them. Actually, I don't wonder, I know I need a break from my kids, but putting them in school won't solve it. Margaret's the only one who is school-aged and I'd still have the other two at home. In fact, Margaret and Isaac play so well together that during Linda's naps, I get lots of time to myself every afternoon.

Margaret took a month of swimming lessons this summer. Going to the pool every morning for a month was so draining on me. School would be the same, but twice as much! I'd have to take her AND pick her up instead if sitting around for half an hour and then going home all together. If only Oakland had school buses or we lived in walking distance to a school! But with homeschooling, I can schedule days where I have no obligations, and that's almost as good.

Part of my introversion has manifested in that we haven't been going to our homeschool park days much lately. I blame Linda because of her nap schedule, but the truth is I'm glad her nap interferes with park day. I don't feel like doing another thing.

Our school year is up in the air right now. We haven't been assigned an ES (educational supervisor) yet and we can't set up the violin schedule for another week.

I think I shall be a hermit for a while. That sounds good.

Look: happy children!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I support Ordain Women

This post has been a long time in coming. Initially I wanted to keep it to myself. I was one of the first 16 people to have a profile on Ordain Women (OW). Kate Kelly told me last fall I was the first profile up by about 15 seconds! To be honest, I didn't think the website would get much attention and it would fade into the background like other similar websites had done.

Some supporters, like my friend Suzette, have been upfront with their ward and stake leadership about their involvement. Suzette let her leaders them know when her profile was up, when she went to the Salt Lake Priesthood session actions, etc., and let them know she was open to any questions they might have for her about her involvement. I admire this. She's a good soul. I was not so forthright for a couple of reasons.

First, I try to not bother a bishop unless I have to. I don't want to take bishops away from their families if I don't have to. I save bishop meetings for temple recommend interviews, tithing settlements, the rare confession, and if they ask to meet with me for a calling. Other than that, I don't think extra meetings are needed. I don't want to be known as the woman who bothers the bishop for everything. My relationship with the Church and my relationship with my ward are two different things. I want to be known as the person magnifying her calling, accepting requests to give talks and prayers, bringing meals to people who need it, etc., not the one who calls up the bishop about things she puts on the Internet.

I also wanted to give the bishop and stake president plausible deniability. If there was any push from Salt Lake to discipline people on the site, they'd have the ability to go, "Oh? We had no idea she was involved with that! She never mentioned it to us..."

So I put it up as quietly as I could, which actually was not so quietly. The night before the site went live March 17, 2013, a person in my stake (excitedly) announced to a group of people in the stake, including the stake president and my current bishop (new as of fall 2013) and lots of ward members that this great Ordain Women site was going up the next day! My OW invisibility in my stake was gone before the site went live.

I just secretly hoped that people forgot what the url for the site was or that they had lives too busy to bother with the Bloggernacle.

And no one said anything to me, so that was good. I continued to do my calling, do my visiting teaching, all the normal Mormon-y things.

In October, right after we got a new bishop, I went to the Priesthood Session action, pretty quietly. I didn't tell many people about it. I didn't even tell my brother who lives in Utah that I was in town.

In November, McKay and I were asked to give talks at church. So we did. If the bishopric knew about my trip to Salt Lake the previous month, it apparently had no bearing on whether or not the bishop thought I'd be welcome to speak in sacrament meeting (btw- I rocked that talk!). At tithing settlement in December, the bishop was the one who brought up OW and I mentioned, "Oh, you know I have a profile up, yes?" He said he had read it when it was first up in March.

I went to the April 2014 action, this time with a little more openness. People in my visiting teaching group asked if I was going to the Priesthood session action and I was honest that I was.

I was getting good support and responses from people in my ward so by the time May came I thought, "Hey, I'll be open and spill it all out here!" But when I went to write this blog post, it was too long and wordy (as you can tell).

Then I heard that the fMh podcast was doing a series of episodes where OW supporters are interviewed. I thought, "Oh! That'd be a great way to shorten the post- tell it all there and then link to the podcast!" I signed up and recorded my interview.

The week after the podcast interview, it was announced that Kate Kelly had an impending disciplinary council.

That was a roller coaster for us all. I planned our local vigil for Kate Kelly. It was lovely and multiple people from my ward came in support. I have been so lucky and I'm grateful for my ward. I know they want me there and that they feel I'm an important part of the ward, even if I have some kooky ideas. Heck, even this past week I substituted for the youth Sunday School class and subbed for piano in Relief Society.

So, here I am linking to the interview if you want to listen. It was recorded before any discipline regarding Kate Kelly was made public, so that'll explain why that was never mentioned. I actually haven't listened to the podcast yet, so if the editors cut down the audio to say I hate kittens, I'm really sorry. I like kittens. If McKay weren't allergic, I'd get a cat.

So that's it!

I have an Ordain Women profile here. It was written March 2013, so if it seems "short" that's because we were told to keep it short and we had only so much room. I've seen longer profiles and I've been a teensy bit envious.

You can listen to the podcast episode here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Bike Camping

A couple of weeks ago, we biked to the ward campout. The campsite was 16 miles away and the trip included a 1000ft elevation climb.

I carried all the kids in the Madsen and McKay pulled the equipment in the trailer. Here we are getting ready to go:

Our plan was to bike up to church (only 7.5 miles into the trip, but up 700ft) and refill the water bottles, have a potty break, and change the baby's diaper. And then from there, finish the route.

When we bike to church on Sundays, it is usually in the morning, right after a good breakfast. It is also not normally hot out, nor am I carrying all 3 kids- McKay takes one in the trailer to even out the weight we are carrying. We get to church in 45 minutes- it's easy and we have no stops or trouble.

But on this day, it was hot, lunch had been 3 hours earlier, and I hadn't been keeping myself hydrated. So before we made it to the church building, I had to stop twice because of feeling nauseated from dehydration and heat. I might be doing a triathlon in September and the fact that I couldn't do a ride that I normally can was disheartening. True, there was an extra 45 pounds on my bike this time, but still! I had an assist!

Oh well. Then we continued. 8.5 miles to go. I hadn't quite used half of the power on my assist yet, so that was a good sign.

We went through some neighborhoods (more water stops, more hills, so many hills) until we found a hill that we learned later is notorious for being a terrible, no good, very bad hill. If you are a cyclist in Oakland, you may know it as "Butters Hill." I looked at that hill and knew for sure there was no way I could get up that with the kids. McKay pushed his way through the intimidating hill, using his assist at full. I made the kids get out and walk. Still, pushing that bike up the hill was no picnic. I think the bike is about 90 pounds on its own (with the assist and battery) plus the baby, who I did not take out of the bike... it was rough pushing that up the hill!

The hardest part of this leg of the ride was just that once we were on Redwood, it was all windy streets, motorcyclists and drivers passing us too closely and too quickly. There were no good places to stop. One of our fellow ward members passed us on his own bike- his wife and baby took all the equipment in the car. We gave him some water and watched him ride off on his 20 pound carbon frame road bike.

When we were about 2 miles out, the bishop came up and offered to take the kids. We took him up on that offer and so the last bit was a lot easier for me. McKay's BionX was completely drained by the time we got there and mine was down to almost nothing. But we made it!

 We tried out our Biolight.


I woke up way too early.


Linda was a bit muddy. Also, she liked this- it was "flying!"

The raccoons came and checked out our bike overnight.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Biking to the Fairgrounds

Last weekend, we biked to the county fairgrounds.

Sort of.

Last fall/winter, it was decided that bikes are allowed on BART at all times, if the cars are not crowded. I assumed I'd never be able to bring my bike on because it's 7 feet long and definitely not something I could carry on the stairs. But I wanted to try.

To enter my knitting into the county fair, I had to take it to the fairgrounds on one of two days. Now, I could rent a Zipcar, but I thought it would be fun to try to bike. I was also thinking we'd bike over to Livermore after going to Pleasanton (where the fairgrounds are), but we ended up not doing that.

I have a friend who has a Madsen in Dublin and I asked her about bringing her bike on BART. She said that the elevators in Pleasanton would be able to accommodate it, but she couldn't vouch for other BART stations. So there was hope!

First, we headed downtown. At the first BART station (19th Street), we discovered the elevators were too small. Then we tried the 12th street station, where they were also too small. There was one more station nearby, so we biked over to the Lake Merritt Station. Also, too small.

But there's a secret about me that's not too secret: if I think I can do it, I probably will do it. And I was going to get that bike into that elevator.

So I did. My 7 foot 70 pound cargo bike is somewhat vertical here.

Funny thing: I got myself stuck behind the bike in such a way that I could not push the button to go down into the BART station. I went with my bike first, then my husband and kids pushed the button so they could get the elevator when I was done. It opened the door and look! They saw me there! So they pushed the button for me and I got the bike down the first elevator! The people doing Tai Chi in the BART station loved my bike (and my kids).

We paid for our tickets and had to find the next elevator to go from the ticket area down to the tracks. And when we found it, we discovered we were the luckiest people in the world. The bike fit in this elevator!

 So we got onto the BART and rode to Pleasanton. The bike kind-of fits in the "bike parking" spot on the BART.

Biking in Pleasanton is... not nice. It's very suburban so the people aren't used to seeing bikes, even though we rode in bike lanes almost the whole time. In suburbia biking is more often recreational activity and not a commuting activity. I saw lots of people biking on sidewalks, which we rarely see here (and is illegal at least in Berkeley).

But we got to the Fairgrounds and here's a selfie in front of the building that my knitting now sits in.

It had been a long day and the day before, we started dog-sitting for a friend of mine. McKay was worried about the dogs being alone while we were gone, so our plans to go to Livermore were ditched and we came home.

On the way home, someone was sitting in the seats by the bike priority area, so the back end stuck out into the doors a lot more than on the way there.

Someone had told us they thought the Ashby BART would have larger elevators than the Oakland ones, so we switched BART trains to go up to Berkeley. On this train, no one was in the seats by the bike area, and our bike actually did fit and did not stick out into the door area.

Group selfie on the BART

Linda was being cute. That's McKay's bike next to mine.

Babies dig the BART.

When we got off at Ashby, we found the elevator: too small. We let other people go while we tried to figure out what to do. Suddenly, the service elevator opened up behind us and lo! The bike fit! If we BART with our bike again, I now know to bike to the Ashby BART. I need to learn if any of the San Francisco BART elevators can accommodate me. If they can, then a whole new world of adventures will open up to us.

I'd love to take the BART to SF and bike the Golden Gate Bridge.

Anybody know if the SF BART elevators can fit long cargo bikes?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Facebook breastfeeding policies

I have so much to catch you all up on! Carfree biking adventures! Mormon-y goodness! Knitting! And of course, life things.

But first, for those of you who have been following this blog for the past 6 years, you might remember a little thing called the Facebook Nurse-in of 2008!

Remember that? Remember how Facebook was all, "We're the man and go away!" Well, slowly over the past few years, we've had more nurse-ins and they've lightened up on their policies. They really didn't have a policy at all 6 years ago. Then it became, "It's ok as long as no nipples are showing..."

And now it's officially ok to have breastfeeding photos on Facebook.

A local lactivist, Paala, just sent me a video about how Facebook has made this (quietly) official. They mention me in the video. I'm the "Utah Mom Heather Farley..." Also, you may recognize the photo of me nursing Margaret from 6 years ago.

It's a bit satisfying to see this play out and watch the discrimination disappear. Hooray!

Linda is having a celebratory drink.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cyclofemme and Elly Blue

A couple of weekends ago, I rode almost 50 miles in 2 days. I decided to cut out part of my riding mileage, so it was only about 45 miles total.

The first day I ended up going all the way out to the Oakland Coliseum with the Oakland Library and Elly Blue.

On the second day, I ditched the last hour of church (because Mother's Day) and went to Cyclofemme.

It was a busy weekend for biking, but it was fun! The day after Cyclofemme, I hit 100 miles for the month of May!