Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bike Shopping

I hate to shop. I know that sounds odd, afterall, I'm female, right? But I hate it.

So, we're shopping for a new bike for me. Why? Because the idiots at the last bike shop sold me a bike that is waaaay too small for me. I'm 5'8" and my bike is just about right for someone who is 5'2" with short legs.

I realized just how much too small it was when dh and I traded bikes. OMS, I could go sooo much faster and with so much less effort. It was like I had been riding through waist high water before.

So, a new bike will be a HUGE step towards our dream of biking for family weekend camping trips. The other step in that is buying an Adams Trail-a-bike for Hyperion. Oceanus has one and they fight over who gets to ride on it. The bike trailer is just way too small for their big bodies. It will be demoted to holding camping gear when we take camping trips (I'm sure that'll be a sight - a bike pulling a trail-a-bike pulling a bike trailer).

The goal is to be car free for everything except the commute to work. At some point, I'll transition to a scooter for my commute. DH won't be able to do that safely. For safety's sake, he'll have to continue to drive a car to work. He has to take highways and scooters just aren't visible enough for all the SUV drivers around. We hear of motorcycle accidents weekly here.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Living a sustainable life

The goal in living sustainably is to not take more from the earth than you contribute. Most of us haven't reached that yet. Most of us never will.

My goal is to do what I can to reduce my footprint on earth and hope that I can slow down the consumption of our nonrenewable resources enough to allow technology to advance to the point where we humans aren't consuming so much.

Part of that is reducing my use of gasoline. This year we moved to a house that is within walking distance of KMart, a grocery store, a movie theater (the cheap theater at that), the library and more fast food than can possibly be good for our health or the environment.

It's also within walking distance of the local school (half a mile). So I'll get my kids off to school and walk 2 miles every day (half mile there, half mile back 2x/day). But, I'll have to drive to work. It's only 2 miles but this area hasn't embraced the idea of non-car commuting to work - sidewalks don't exist and employers aren't prepared for you to arrive sweaty and needing to change clothes. And today's styles aren't bike friendly (I love the way wide-legged slacks look on me, but those will so get caught in the chain).

My goal is to buy a scooter after we pay off some debt. At our present rate, we should be able to do it around the start of the new year (thank goodness it doesn't really get cold here).

We've been biking a lot more lately and I've come to realize my bike doesn't fit me at all. It's waaaaay too small. I'm tall and I need a much bigger bike than I ever realized. So that's on the agenda for after payday. A new, bigger bike for me. I'd be glad to buy used but there don't seem to be any down here. I don't know if it's because people don't buy them much down here, use them until they die or don't use them but are too embarrassed to admit it and allow them to rust to dust in the salt laden air or a combination of all of the above.

So, we'll buy me a bike and Hyperion a trailerbike. Oceanus already has one and Hyperion likes to ride on it. Neither of them fit in the trailer anymore, so it's time. Of course, it really sucks to have to balance a bike for a 6yo. I have bruises on my leg from keeping the bike from turning over because of him. If it had been just me, I'd have let the bike lay down, but since he would have gone down with it, I kept it up enough to keep him from getting hurt (it still went down).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I love the library

Libraries are such underutilized resources in the US.

When we moved, we donated over 1,000 books. Can you imagine paying to move that many books? Well, we couldn't, so to the church they went. You'd think with getting rid of that many we wouldn't have any left, wouldn't you. You'd be wrong.

However, that woke us up to the fact that we had a consumerism problem. So now? No new books. There are exceptions, we do buy paperbacks to take on vacation, the kids get books and if we really, really want a book and our library doesn't have it.

Other than that? Our library is our great supplier.

Not only books, though. They also have movies, magazines, newspapers, internet access, kids programs and I'm sure many other items I have yet to utilize (I know of at least one library that would check out slide projectors, overhead projectors and VCRs).

Today was movie day. We saw The Pacifier. I've never been a Vin Diesel fan, but after this movie, I actually see his appeal. It was a nice outing for us.

The other advantages are that this was ONE projector using electricity to entertain about 40 kids and adults. It was ONE AC keeping a room cool for that many people (many people here only have window unit ACs and turn them off if they aren't home, thereby saving power) - so probably 4-5 houses weren't using electricity for cooling (alas, not our home, our AC is central and will not program to less than 88).

I recommend learning about the programs in your city and using them. When you go, turn off the computer, the tv, turn up the thermostat on the AC (or turn it off), turn off the lights and enjoy the programs knowing your saving money and helping the environment.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Making my semi-annual pitch for Reel Mowers

Okay, I can't sing the praises of my reel mower enough. Granted, if your grass grows 4" while you are on vacation (not a hypothetical, unfortunately) it'll be a pain to mow, but other than that ...

The little snickety-snick as the blades turn and cut the grass. Knowing that you're not going to throw rocks up and hit yourself, your car, the kid next door, the mercedes next door (that is a hypothetical), your kid, your dh (who deserves a rock for not bringing you water as you're out mowing in 95F heat with 99% humidity). Knowing that there's no way you're going to slip and cut off your toe (actually happened to a classmate). Not smelling the nasty smell of gas. Not PAYING for the gas.

This is all priceless. Not to mention (you'll love this) it burns anywhere from 200-500 calories/hour (and if like above, your grass grew 4" since the last time you mowed, probably more like 1000 calories/hour), builds strong legs and arms and even works the ab muscles. AND they cost sooo much less than a power mower.

Plus, it's yet another step towards a sustainable life.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Mirror of Erised

My boys, like most boys their ages, are really into Harry Potter. I managed to resist the craze until we got them the books and I read the 1st to them while on vacation.

The Mirror of Erised, as fans know, shows not just your reflection, but your reflection with your heart's desire.

Wow! Wouldn't that be nice to have.

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling like something is missing from my life. I don't know what it is. Is it a different career? A different house? A luxury item? More education? The baby girl I've never had? I don't know. And like most things, I feel that if I just guess and make the change, I'll find that the hole is still not filled and I may be even less happy (or poor) for the change I made.

I like my life, but something is still missing. My dreams won't tell me what it is. Maybe this is why I blog, to free associate until I figure it out.

The baby girl. I always assumed I'd have a girl. I bought my wedding dress with future weddings in mind (my daughters' and granddaughters' - not mine). I collected books, hair doodads, movies, etc with the thought of little girls in my life. Hyperion was supposed to be a girl. That's what the ultrasound said, that's what my body said. But he's a boy. And he's a marvelous boy. I wouldn't change him for all the world. About 2 weeks after he was born I was hit with this major grief, my girl was gone. It was almost like I had been expecting twins and lost one at birth (I know it's not really comparable, I can't imagine the grief of actually losing a child, but it's the best example I have). I gained a marvelous boy, but I lost my girl.

DH has always only wanted 2 kids. I knew this before I married him. And I was fine with it, because I always expected to have a girl. But, emotionally, physically and financially, I can't handle another child. My 2 kids drive me up the wall daily and have me so physically exhausted that the thought of a newborn (or being pregnant) almost gives me anxiety attacks.

Is this the hole? The something missing? Or if I did have a girl (and how would I guarantee that?) would the hole persist and I'd find myself just more exhausted and stressed (not to mention poorer)?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Why Gaia Girl?

Gaia is the Greek Goddess of Earth. Being a goddess, well, I needed a goddess name. I try to live an organic and sustainable life, so who better than Mother Earth?

A blog, of course, is an exercise in vanity. We hope to be able to send our thoughts out and have them validated, or at least read. Sometimes, late at night, thoughts run through my mind and I just need to write them down. If they're good, great, if they're not? Well, at least I got them out of my head and maybe I'll be able to sleep the next night.

Okay, so my name isn't Gaia and my sons aren't Oceanus and Hyperion, but you knew that. You don't expect me to tell you our real names, do you?

Why are we so paranoid on the internet? Recently an internet community who has been together for 2 years fractured. Why? Over safety concerns. If we were less paranoid, we could probably have held it together for a much longer time. It's sad. I really felt like I knew these people. I knew more about them than I did the people I went to school with from kindy to (in some cases) college.

So, I'm still reeling from that. If I make no sense these first few weeks, understand that I'm still recovering.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The eyes of a mother?

So I have these 2 boys. 6 & almost 8.

I look at them and they look nothing alike. I wonder how the same man and I could have produced 2 so different looking boys. But I know they're both ours, they never left our sight after birth.

The oldest, Oceanus, is olive skinned with hazel eyes - they are mainly green but can be blue or gray depending on mood or clothes. He has brown hair, but it leans on the blonde side. Plus, he's lost baby teeth and now has super big adult teeth.

The youngest, Hyperion, is possibly the whitest kid I have ever seen who is not an albino. He has freckles everywhere the sun touches. And I do mean everywhere - even on his eyelids. I have no doubt that if his hair ever got long enough to part, he'd have freckles on his scalp. He has brown hair that leans to the very dark side. And blue eyes - this kid's eyes are such a blue. He hasn't lost any teeth yet, we're waiting for him to lose the front tooth, it's that or have the dentist pull it.

Recently, Hyperion has had a growth spurt. He is now within about 2 inches of being as tall as his brother and is possibly the same weight. They wear the same size clothes.

We've been asked no less than 5 times in the last month if they are twins. And everyone says how much they look alike. I? Can't see it at all. And it's not just clueless adults, it's other kids. Other kids see them and ask if they're twins.

Is this what they mean by "mother's eyes"? Is it that they really do look just alike and I don't see it because I know them so well? Or maybe it's me. After all, I look at pics of 2 identical twins I went to HS with and I know instantly which is which. Shelly is so obviously not Kelly, how could anyone not see it?