Archive for August, 2011

Some Freight on the Workcycles Fr8

August 26, 2011

Here we are on our way home from church.  Four people on one bike!
(stay away from hills with this load!)



Three Trips for the Family

August 24, 2011

We have had three important trips recently that I’ll try to summarize below with some fun pictures.


First was our anniversary trip, delayed due to skin infection and state government closure.  I had originally planned for us to visit Lake Itasca, but I couldn’t be sure whether or not the park would be open because the state government had shut down.  Would it be open in time?  Well, I was interested in visiting an interesting spot along the Mississippi, and I figured if Minnesota was closed I should turn to Wisconsin.

I soon discovered a neat area called “Lake Pepin,” which is not really a lake at all.  It is the widest natural stretch of the Mississippi.  I set up the date as a mystery with only geocache coordinates along the way to lead us from stop to stop.

The visit took us along the Great River Road, which was gorgeous.  You could see the river intermittently along the drive, and every so often there were scenic overlook spots to get out of the car and enjoy the river.

The road often wound in between the river and huge bluffs.

One of the non-geocache stops was to picnic atop a bluff in a park area.  I thought it would be a quick walk from the parking area, but we ended up walking for about 20 minutes through a grassy and wooded area.

Finally we emerged onto a clearing atop the bluff.

See a beautiful image of the bluff here.

Elizabeth set out the blanket, and we had a picnic, watching the barges float by.

After that we visited a historical museum in the town of Pepin, the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, as well as a replica cabin near to the area where her family lived.

We also stopped in little Stockholm, WI, where there was an event called Dog Days.  We were just curious to drive by, but while driving by we saw these blue bikes.  Around the Twin Cities there is a program called Nice Ride, where you can rent a bicycle for a short period and return it to any kiosk around the cities for a fee.  Here there was an absolutely free bike sharing program.  It is one of the advantages of small town living – you don’t worry nearly as much about theft.

(click the picture to zoom in and read the tags on each bike)

I had plans for us to visit the Tiffany wildlife area, but we were too exhausted to do more exploring.  We returned home along the beautiful Great River Road.


A few days after our trip to Wisconsin, we were on our way out of the house when Basil decided he would take his own trip.  Very confidently he took the back stairs by himself, but he had a misstep and tripped over his head on the way down.  His mother reports that he was more upset about a fallen tupperware than his own head.  Oh well!



It took about a week to all heal up.


The last trip we took was another wonderful trip to Wisconsin.  We’ve had a lot of positive experiences in that state recently – and it’s not due simply to their famous bratwursts, cheese, and beer (triple threat, oh my!).

We had a family vacation with our friends from Chicago.
We shared a cabin with John and Lila, Basil’s Godparents, and their daughter Dorothy:

And our friends, Mark and Claire, Basil’s first-ever baby sitters.  Claire was one of Basil’s most frequent (and favorite) visitors  during his first year of life.

It was great to see Dorothy a little more grown up.  Basil was super excited to meet her.  We think this bodes well for his younger sibling.

Many hugs and kisses were exchanged.

The location was called Historic Liberty Lodge.  It turned out to be built after our own home, but it was covered from floor to ceiling with patriotic decorations.  Here is just a sampling:


They provided a row boat along the dock for the lake, horseshoes, croquet, bicycles, a gas grill, a bonfire pit, patio furniture, and acorns aplenty.  Basil’s favorite part, aside from Dorothy, was making “acorn pie” for the squirrels.

We spent lots of time talking about raising children, the prevalence of disposable plastics in society, future vocations, and church.  We really had a wonderful time and would love to make it a regular gathering.



Vitiligo Update

August 8, 2011

It seems that many people come to our blog to see pictures of our son because they know us.  Then there are a lot of other people who end up here because they are repairing rocking chairs, pregnant, baking bread, or curious about vitiligo.  I wanted to see pictures of people with vitiligo when I first recognized it, so I am happy to provide more information for those who may come looking for it.

Here I will show photos of my hands from 8/23/09 and today, 8/8/11.

The difference in darkness of my normal skin is probably due to the difference in lighting in the two pictures.  I have to take these in August because it is near the end of the summer when my skin is at its darkest.  When winter begins to set in it is nearly impossible to tell I have vitiligo.  My skin becomes so pale it is almost as white as skin that has no pigment.

I know vitiligo severely affects some people’s lives.  Thank God it has had and probably will have very little effect on me because I am already so white to begin with.  Am I thanking God that I’m white?  Perhaps dangerous territory!


Family Biking and Workcycles Fr8

August 3, 2011

When I lived in Chicago I had one nice and one junky bike consecutively stolen.  After that I forgot about having a bike for a while.  When we moved to Minneapolis I started thinking about riding a Vespa about for a nice, economical form of transportation.  I abandoned that idea because of snow, cost, and health (safety) factors Elizabeth kept reminding me about.  Around that time I started looking at bicycles, and one style in particular caught my eye.

I started looking specifically at Dutch bikes because I wanted a bicycle that was above anything else practical – heavy duty, indestructible in all weather, a workhorse, and comfortable.  I found several websites with specific information on these bikes: here, here, and here.  Also, I read extremely intriguing information about biking in general in the Netherlands – see here.

Well, we ended up just getting a couple of bicycles from used shops around Minneapolis.  Mine was an older Raleigh, but not old enough to have rod brakes (not actually desirable, it turns out) or a more upright position.  It has a horribly uncomfortable seat and after riding it for a while my shoulders begin to hurt from being hunched over.  My pants regularly get caught by the chain and stained with grease.

We both wanted to cycle with our son, Basil, so we ended up getting a used Burley trailer.  Basil hated it at first but eventually started liking it.  It was not too difficult to ride with, but it almost seemed like he wasn’t along for the ride.  He might fall asleep without me knowing it because he was so far behind.  If I wanted to point something out I would need to dangerously turn around and shout it.  It was impossible to have a conversation, so I would often just cycle as if he wasn’t there at all.

Then my mother purchased us a wonderful child seat for bicycles.

Basil loved it, and it was so much better to ride with him between my arms.  I could ask him for a kiss and he could just tip his head up and give me one.  We could talk about whatever we were seeing or going to see.  It was a little bit uncomfortable on the bike, however.  My knees hit the seat if I didn’t splay them out a bit.  And there wasn’t enough space between my seat and his if I needed to step off the seat for a moment.

After looking at some of the Dutch bikes for about a year, we decided to get one.  I chose a bicycle maker in Amsterdam who is actually an American expat, named Henry.  His business is called Workcycles.  I ended up buying the bicycle from Adeline Adeline, one of only six U.S. dealers.

I started looking at the Omafiets but ended up leaning toward the more unique Fr8 design because it better fit the above mentioned qualities, whereas the Omafiets was heavy on a nice but unnecessary aesthetic styling.

I should like to give a more thorough review later, but here are some pictures of how it’s working out so far.

With and without child seat:

Extremely wide, thick tires (Schwalbe Fat Franks):

Brooks leather saddle:

Chain case:

Double-wide milk crate (thrift store) with cutout for child seat:

Setting Basil in:

Strapping on the “yellow hat”:

Enjoying the ride:



Admittedly, I still look goofy – but less so!  And Basil really has fun in his seat.

He is such a big boy.


Mama is also a big mama.  Doing well, here she is at 24 weeks!