Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Riding Seattle to Portland

Two days. 204 miles. Ten thousand riders. Five friends. Seattle to Portland was an epic weekend!

The weather was perfect, the company was amazing, the route was gradual and beautiful, and chocolate milk, spaghetti, and meatballs never taste as good as when you have 114 miles of riding under your belt!

Day 1 - here we go!
"175 miles to go" wasn't exactly the most encouraging sign...

Day 1 of riding totaled 114 miles - a big day! A shower and sleeping bag have never felt so good.
Day 2 was a more manageable 92 miles - we were a little stiff, but still ready to hit the road at 7.
Tah dah! We arrive safe and sound in Portland!

STP was an amazing adventure. Well-supported, a beautiful and gradual route, and judging by our experience the weather must always be perfect for riding in the pacific northwest because we enjoyed dry-but-cloudy skies and temperatures in the 70s! ;)

Now to plan a family STP adventure... my kids are up for 200 miles a few years from now, right?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lagoon Mini Vacation

This weekend we indulged in a two day mini vacation to Lagoon, a local amusement park that we hadn't visited in years. To make the trip extra-easy, we reserved a campsite in the surprisingly shady and very convenient Lagoon campground to take advantage of Lagoon's great bounce-back rates.

It was a great trip! We did every roller coaster and big ride in the park and nobody threw up - a good time was had by all.

Ben quickly realized that the people mover was the easiest way to hatch his Pokemon eggs
Ben was also very excited to find "Benz" bumper cars
We did every big roller coaster! From Cannibal with its 116-degree descent...
...to The Bat...
...to JetStar...
...and of course the Wild Mouse, Wicked, and Colossus. Oh, and Ben rode Rollercoaster (the old wooden coaster) 13 times!
The girls got the best of both worlds - they were tall enough for the big roller coasters and still little enough to get a thrill out of face painting and the carousel
It was a great little vacation! Glad we had time for Sunday afternoon naps because, shew!, we needed it after two action-packed days at Lagoon!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

WanYing and Sasha's Baptism

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Sasha: Baptism means you have let Jesus into your heart and you want the world to know.

This is me and WanYing wearing our baptism shirts before we got baptized.

WanYing: The people are watching us doing baptism. Not just me and Sasha, other people are doing it, too. There were people from our church watching us and supporting us. About like 100 or 200 people came. About 40 people got baptized from our church at the Provo River. That's how many people got baptized!

Sasha: This is me when Pastor Scott was asking me if I wanted to let the world know that I let Jesus into my heart and I said, "yes!"

I felt nervous before I got baptized. I was a little scared to go under the water and go back up.

Sasha: After I got baptized I felt great! I let Jesus into my heart and I showed everybody that I let Jesus into my heart.

WanYing: I was sorta nervous, but it was gonna feel good to be baptized, to let the world know that I follow Jesus.

And nothing magical happens, it's just saying, "I follow Jesus."

WanYing: Afterward I feel cold but I let the world know that I follow Jesus.

WanYing: Annie's our church teacher and she teaches about God. And she was proud of me and my sister, Sasha.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Commuting With Dogs

A few weeks ago, one of the very favorite articles I've written for Cycling Utah came out on the magazine's website. I'm super proud of the article, so I figured you'd enjoy it, too! Here are highlights from, Commuting With Dogs – Tips for Riding With A Canine.

I work for Qualtrics, an Internet software company based in Provo, Utah. In addition to the fast-growing startup perks like catered lunches, casual offices, and sweet equity, Qualtrics boasts a special benefit: dog-friendly campuses! As long as the dog is (reasonably) well-behaved and (reasonably) well-groomed, man’s best friend is welcome at work.

I love working in a dog-friendly environment, even though I have to apologize for the occasional bark in the background when I’m on the phone with a customer. Dogs add an affectionate, casual, playful vibe to the office. I’m also grateful to be able to spend the day with my pup rather than leaving her home alone.

As a cycle commuter, however, I faced a challenge – how could we maintain a regular schedule of biking to the office and also take advantage of the Qualtrics dog-friendly workplace? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

About Jamie and Chornaya

I work in the Qualtrics Provo office. I live in nearby Orem and commute by bike year-round (see the March 2014 Cycling Utah Commuter Column). My daily commute is quick and easy 2.5 miles each way through side streets and bike trails.

Chornaya, or Chorney for short, is a six-year-old black Labradoodle. She’s a very affectionate, very energetic dog. Cycle commuting with Chorney was borne out of necessity for two reasons:
  1. I get to work by bike and if Chorney was going to come to work, she had to get there by bike as well.
  2. Chorney has a lot of energy. At six, she’s only just getting over her puppy wiggles. And if she was going to survive hanging out at my desk for eight or ten hours a day, she needed to run off some energy in the morning.
Chorney is a medium-sized dog and a great runner, so I knew that with some training and practice she would do well running alongside my bike as I rode. There are several products created specifically for riding with a dog, such as the WalkyDog, but in the end I found that a short 24-inch leash clipped to my rear rack with a carabiner was the best equipment for us. The leash is long enough that Chorney can get out of the way of my pedals but short enough that she can’t get around in front of the bike to trip me up.

The key to successfully riding with Chorney is a no-pull harness. Chorney is a pretty well-trained dog, but she’s still susceptible to getting distracted when a critter crosses the street or a dog barks from behind a fence. I know that for my safety and hers it is imperative that Chorney can’t pull me off-course if she bolts. The no-pull harness ensures that Chorney has to stay with me even if she’d rather go check something else out.

Starting Out – Jamie’s Training Process

I knew that cycling with Chorney had the potential to be dangerous, so many days before our first commute we started off with simple rides up and down our street and around the block.

At first, Chorney was understandably nervous around the bike, but once she started getting comfortable with staying on my right side and not straining too far ahead or falling behind we began training with vocal commands.

Before I slow, stop, or turn I tell Chorney what’s going on. I tell her “slowing” or “turn right” and I’m not saying that she can actually discern her right from left (although, who knows, sheep dogs do far more!) but at least she knows that if I tell her we’re stopping or turning she needs to pay attention.

Catastrophes Averted

Chorney and I have ridden hundreds of miles together with only two incidents.

The first was completely my fault. We were riding to the park, not our usual commuting route, and I turned right a little abruptly and without giving Chorney the notice she was used to. I turned right into her and we tumbled to the ground. Bike, rider, and dog were all fine and I took it as a good lesson in preparing myself and my dog before turning, especially when on an unfamiliar route.

The second was this winter during a slushy, sloppy day. Chorney and I had navigated to the turn lane on a fairly quiet side street and were slowing to turn left. A car buzzed around us on the right and disturbed a pile of slushy snow, making a big sound that surprised both me and Chorney. She spooked and bolted. Thanks to the no-pull harness she wasn’t able to pull me over, but we both wobbled a bit to regain our composure, which was especially nerve wracking to me as we were in the center lane and exposed to traffic on both sides.

Bad Weather Advice

Chorney and I cycle commute year-round and she needs very few weather-based pieces of equipment. I do have booties for Chorney to wear in the snow, but most of the time we go without unless it’s icy and I’m afraid that her paws might get cut. Thanks to her furry coat she doesn’t need any extra layers in the cold except for a reflective vest that I put on over her harness if we are riding in the dark or at dusk.

The biggest weather issue for Chorney is hot pavement. Wisdom says that if you can’t comfortably hold your hand on the pavement for 10 seconds, it’s not safe for a dog to walk on either. Sometimes Chorney and I will hang out at the office a little later on summer afternoons to give the worst of the heat time to dissipate and sometime my husband will pick Chorney up on his way home from work if the pavement is too hot for her to run. I can also put her winter booties on during the summer to protect her paws.

Well Worth the Trouble

It’s a little extra work to ride with Chorney. I don’t get to zip in to work at top speed and have to take it even slower when she tires. I have to prepare her for turns and stops. I have to protect her and myself from unleashed dogs that come up to us when we’re riding on bike trails. Commuting with a dog definitely does have its annoyances.

But when I pull her harness out in the morning and she sits up on her back legs so I can more easily get her harness on, when I see her running next to me with her big doggy smile, and when she’s napping peacefully in her bed next to my desk at work, I know that riding with a dog truly makes commuting communal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Summer Fun

In addition to our adventures cycling, puppy training, drive-in movie-ing, summerfesting, swim lessoning, and ropes coursing, we've managed to enjoy some other miscelaneous blog-worthy adventures.

The girls completed 3 weeks of robot camp at UVU, sharpening their programming, instruction-following, and Lego-building skills and having a great time of it.

We hit the Strawberry Days Rodeo
The boys tried out climbing camp
Climbing camp was, incidentally, a huge success. Sam has declared climbing, "the only physical activity I have ever enjoyed besides t-ball."

High praise.

And I hit the Sundance Zip Line with friends from work
June was fabulous - can't wait to see what adventures July brings!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Bike MS Tandem Style

Bike MS is pretty much the coolest activity of the cycling year. The whole of Team C4C comes out for the event, we camp out in the field, there's a pool party and, oh yeah, we get to bike 150 miles through beautiful Cache Valley to benefit an amazing organization.

In a world of shrinking research budgets, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is making a real difference in slowing this terrible disease's progress, assisting those in need, and bringing us closer to a cure. MS is a disease we are gaining on! In its first decade, the National MS society funded 2 Nobel Prize winners, created the first test to diagnose MS, and has made other huge strides in both treating and curing MS. And MS Bike and Walk dollars are the main sources of funding all that great research! The money raised in Bike MS is also used to provide education, information, direct financial support, and scholarships to individuals and families living with MS.

This year, Steve and I rode on our tandem bike. It was great! Great weather, great scenery, and riding right along with my very favorite person in the world.

Yeah, we're adorable.

We had a smaller crew for Sunday's ride - and it was great!
Ride on, team, ride on

Saturday, July 9, 2016

ChenXing at Four Months

This week ChenXing turns four months old! She's still adorable although is definitely hitting a chewy and sassy age. Chewing up the dog training book can't be a good sign...

Here are a few pics of our baby growing up!

The puppies wait patiently for their chew treats

ChenXing has been doing well at work. The normal schedule has be bringing ChenXing to work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with Chorney taking up Tuesday and Thursday.

ChenXing loves playing with the other dogs at work, enjoys the garden and stream, and spends the rest of her time napping. And by napping I mean sliding off of her pillow under the wheels of my desk chair so that I'm sure to roll over a paw, ear, or tail every time I move.

Hanging out at the office - 14 weeks
Enjoying the Qualtrics gardens - 15 weeks
Chorney likes the gardens, too!
ChenXing has gotten bolder in the water over the weeks and enjoys a daily wade

ChenXing hasn't learned to ride alongside the bike yet like Chorney, so she's relegated to a crate bungeed to the Xtracycle. The crate is too small for her to lie down comfortably in, but that's fine since she prefers to sit up with her face in the wind as we ride.

She'll outgrow the crate soon, so we started working on running alongside the bike this week. So far, it's terrifying. Training her to cycle commute is definitely going to take some time. Good think dogs and bikes are two of my favorite things!

Bike commuting selfie!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Ben Turns Teenager

Yesterday my baby boy graduated into the teen years - Ben is now thirteen!

Ben is this fantastic combination of kid and big kid and teenager right now and we're having a great time of it. He still loves his unicycles, gladly accompanies his sisters to the grocery store when they want to invest their allowances in candy, and invests a terrifying amount of his own income in candy. He forgets to change his clothes, "forgets" to put away his laundry (no, none of us are falling for that one), loves Magic cards, fights waaaay too much with his sisters, has figured out that mowing the lawn is an awesome way to earn more candy money, and spent a sizeable portion of his birthday money on boxes of poppers from the fireworks store. He prefers to eat without silverware, still hasn't mastered the art of legible handwriting, and can't wait for our Weird Al concert later this month.

He's a heck of a kid.
Present time! Money, gift card, Magic cards, and...
...the perfect new unicycle helmet! Because unicyclists cannot lose time to un-aerodynamic helmets. (Steve and I have been planning to get him a TT helmet for months. We pretty much think it's the funniest idea we've ever had and can't wait for him to wear it at this year's Tour de Donut)
Lest you think that the birthday photos were taken easily, I present "The Indignant Teenager"
And "The Cheesy Grin". He finally took a decent photo once I threatened that we weren't going to the fireworks store until we got a photo I was happy with.

As previously explained, Ben hates using utensils for meals, so we thought that the perfect meal for his birthday dinner would be at the new Ethiopian restaurant in Salt Lake! In Ethiopian restaurants, you pinch off pieces of bread to eat your meal and there are no utensils at the table. Of course, in Ethiopian restaurants, the food also does not taste like pizza or hamburgers, so the boys ate nothing and the rest of us had a grand time.

And we finished off the birthday celebration at the Drive In for a double feature of Finding Dory and The BFG! The boys got pizza and churros, we all stayed up until 2 am, and a good time was had by all.

Happy birthday Ben! Welcome to the teen years!


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