Friday, September 16, 2011

Commuter Buddy

I have been using my bike as a mode of transportation on and off for the last 10 years. At this point, it does not seem extraordinary to ride to the store to get a sixer of Fat Tire, take the boys to get donuts on a Saturday morning, or to ride to work.  Maybe I am getting old, or maybe it wasn’t that significant, but I don’t remember that first time I rode my bike to work.  I wanted to try and remember what that felt like, so in my post a couple of weeks ago, I put out a request offering myself to be a ride along commuter buddy.  I hoped that having somebody to ride along with them, would persuade somebody to give commuting by bike a shot, and one brave soul came to my rescue for the story.  Enter Future Commuter Girl, she had been looking to make that leap and start riding to work.  
Surly McClain reporting for duty.
To read the rest of the story head over to Austin On Two Wheels......

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Is it worth a coin?

The Boy recently has taken to the idea that he would like certain items. Well this is not actually a new idea, but he is old enough to understand that there is value associated with something and it does not actually just fall from the sky. Previously he just assumed that Mrs. B and I were a bottomless pit of money. We would say things like you can’t swing your hockey stick in the house because you could break the TV and it wouldn’t work anymore. His typical response to this statement was something like this “That’s okay mama, we just go to Wal-Mart and get a new one”. 

No to the TV. 
No to the Wal-Mart. 
No to swinging the stick in the house. 

Recently at church, he indicated that he would like a juice box as his snack. To dissuade this, I just asked him if he had the money to pay for the juice box, which was $.50. He indicated he didn’t have any money. Although he did remind me that he swallowed a dime one time, and it came out in his poop. I asked him if he had that dime on him. He didn’t. Problem solved. On the way home from church, the Boy asked if he could have some money…..obviously the problem wasn’t solved. Mrs. B informed the Boy that he would need to earn money if he wanted it. The whole earning thing is a bit of a stretch for his little 3 year old brain, so we started brainstorming ways he could make money. Below is a sample of that conversation. 

Mrs. B: What could you do to earn money? What job could you do? 
The Boy: I could play. 
Mrs. B: Well I was thinking about something that would help around the house. 
The Boy: I could play with my brothers. 
Mrs. B: Sometime a job is something you don’t want to do. 
The Boy: I could not hit my brothers, when we are playing. (Now we were getting somewhere) 
Mrs. B: You know how mama and dada pick up dog poop, we don’t really want to do that but it has to be done. 
The Boy: I don’t want to pick up dog poop (I don’t blame you partner). I could ride my bike. 

It went on like this for the rest of the ride home (20 minutes), and the closest we got to an actual chore was picking up toys at the end of each night. Now that we have at least entered the world of chores, he as quickly realized the potential of negotiation. Now when we ask him to do something, he quickly responds with….do I get a coin. Although this is a marginally effective way to get him motivated to do things, I don’t know how comfortable I am with him associating every single task he does as a way to get money…..I would much rather he do it just because it is good for the family. Holy Crap….now I sound like Mrs. B.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CX in the ATX

I have developed a bit of an obsession over the last year. Many of you reading may already share this passion. I am not afraid to admit that I love cyclocross. I am well aware that in the northern corners of the US this is a particularly powerful draw. People of all ages, get on their bikes to race as fast as they can...only to jump right back off to run through sand, mud, over barriers, up steep hills, or even up stairs, then throwing themselves back on their steed mid run to keep riding. I know it sounds a little crazy reading it here, but when it is done well it is AWESOME.

To read the rest of the story head over to Austin on Two Wheels.......

Monday, August 15, 2011

What is the opposite of a winter Viking?

I began commuting by bike just out of college, I can honestly say I am not sure why I started but a couple times a week I would get up a little earlier than normal and head off to work on my bike. At that time, I was living in the Twin Cities. Those of us who commuted during the winter months considered ourselves Winter Vikings, because regardless of how far below freezing the temperatures got we still rode. In Austin, we do not not have that chance often; but, a couple times a year I get to call myself a Winter Viking. Friday was the opposite of Winter Viking.

Drought = returning to my redneck roots

We have had the worst single year drought this year in Austin. Aside from the lakes being ridiculously low, which really doesn't effect us since we don't own a boat, we haven't noticed much of difference from a normal Texas summer. It is HOT....lots, in reality is there really that much difference between 98 everyday and 106 everyday, as somebody who is living through The lack of rain has drastically cut back on my mowing rain = no grass (translation - green weeds) growing. Some of my kinfolk are from the Ozarks of Missouri (translation-civilized rednecks), as opposed to the Ozarks of Arkansas (translation - uncivilized rednecks), and I looked out at my yard yesterday while having my morning cup of coffee - I started to think that maybe I was returning to my roots.

Pretty much checking every box of the "you might be a Redneck if..." --plastic cups around the yard - check, broken toys everywhere - check, dogs - check and check, deflated pool we used once - check, lots of dead grass - CHECK

I refused to water because after one summer of paying hundreds of dollars a month to keep the weeds green, I decided there were better ways to spend my time and money. My parents have such a lush and lovely yard, which they work very hard to maintain...I apparently didn't inherit those genes....or as my dad would ethic.

View of the front yard....No I didn't apply the Scorched Earth filter, it is just naturally that beautiful.

Try as I might, I haven't been able to keep the two Live Oaks my dad planted 18 months ago. Between vacations and a complete lack of rain they haven't survived the heat...I did water them when I was here I promise.

Dad, I promise I gave them water...I really really did.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Eating on the road

Quite possibly the worst part of traveling, especially by car, especially through Oklahoma, is that there is nothing but crap to eat. Apparently Twinkie #1 didn't mind the food choices, because he was snarfing it down so quickly he forgot to take the wrapper off his hash brown.

Although the hash browns are obviously delightful, the boys seem just as content eating sandwiches Mrs. B had prepared at home. It is amazing how a boring ol' sandwich tastes so much better when you are in the middle of an adventure.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lets Get Social

I have to admit that I was under-prepared for my first ever Thursday Night Social Ride, but in the end that did not diminish the experience in the least. A college friend, Andrew, was in town for diversity training with a national outdoor retailer. Upon discovering this fact, we made plans to squeeze in a true Austin experience. Within the Baker house there was some debate about what that experience would be, with consideration given to Alamo Drafthouse, catching a live music show, or waiting in traffic. Considering that Andrew was going to sit on his butt for 8+ hours getting more diverse by the minute, we finally decided on an evening bike ride. I have been meaning to get out and ride one of the Thursday Night Social Rides sponsored by Social Cycling Austin, so this seemed like an opportune time. (Read the rest of the story at Austin on Two Wheels)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Doing it for the Kids.....and my Sanity.

I want to start off and admit it has been a few weeks since I have commuted to work on the ‘ol Surly (continuing to take suggestions for a better name), I am still running errands around the neighborhood, but the 10+ mile commute, and more importantly the early rising, won out for the last couple of weeks. “Bike to Work Week” has kicked me in the butt and reminded me to get out there and burn burritos and not gas, because I am cheap, and also have an unhealthy relationship with Tex-Mex food.

I jumped back in on Friday morning, and within the first mile..... (Read the rest of the story over at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter weekend

It was an incredibly busy and fun Easter weekend. Grandma and Grandpa Wehr were in town for all of the Easter celebrations and we were able to take full advantage of their wanting to spend time with the Boy and the Twin-kies. Like many Austinites, we made our way down to Zilker park before lunch to ride the train and play on the playground. The entire place was a beehive of kids running and playing, the boys could not have had a better time.

The Twin-kies had the best time climbing the playscapes and bombing down the slides, without a concern about who was going to catch them at the bottom...and sometimes there wasn't somebody there, and they would just shoot off the end. They would then get up, brush off the wood chips and climb back up to do it all over again.

Nanny and Papa took care of the monkey's while Mrs. B and I went out for a double date with the Huddleston's.

Stefanie waiting for the movie to start....doesn't she look excited to see Hanna, the movie that I picked. Once the movie was over she actually said it was a pretty good choice, although if I had to guess she still would have chosen Water for Elephants instead.

We also had the chance to attend Easter services at ACTS Church Lakeway. Following the service, the boys had an Easter Egg hunt followed by a dinner.
Here is The Boy jamming as many eggs as he can in his undersized basket. You can tell he has done this before, because he had collected over half the eggs on the ground while the other kids were still opening and checking their first couple of eggs for candy. The Boy knows you have time to assess the booty once all of the eggs have been collected.

With extra hands in town to enjoy the fun that is bedtime, I took the opportunity to go and see a couple of additional movies with Michael Huddleston. Three straight days of movies at the Alamo Drafthouse means I had the chance to see this Alamo preview three days in a row. I don't know if it is the catchiness of the song, the excellent way the whole thing is put together, or the fact the commercial is just another advertisement of why Austin is so awesome, but when I got home yesterday, I just went ahead and bought the song on iTunes.

The three movies I was able to see this weekend were all pretty good, and served as an excellent appetizer for the typical glut of summer movie goodness.

Limitless - entertaining and an interesting premise. It is a definite renter but it isn't a throwaway if you want to see it in the theater.

Hanna - bad-ass - there were some intense action sequences that Mrs. B and Stef had difficulty watching, but for the most part it was very entertaining and action-packed from the moment the movie starts.

Your Highness - this movie isn't going to be for everybody, but if you enjoy stupid gross-out humor with a ton of crude jokes you won't be disappointed. That may have actually been the mimosa's talking, but Michael and I both really enjoyed the movie, but agreed our wives wouldn't have appreciated the sophisticated humor.
You have to be very comfortable with your manhood to share the Mimosa Duo with a fellow dude...thankfully I was up to the challenge.
I have been meaning to take a picture of this giant Barbarella poster at my local Drafthouse. The poster reminds me of my high school friend Josh, who exposed me to the wonderful classic staring Jane Fonda. Good times.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Breaking a professional athlete

You know how you always hear stories about those professional athletes who screwed your fantasy team because they got injured. And not injured in some cool professional athlete way that will be an awesome story to tell for years to come, like any of these.

Although I am sure all of these hits were extremely painful, there was also a pretty high level of awesome. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about if you picked up an injury because of one of those hits. No, the injuries that I find particularly maddening are the ones where these supposedly superior athletes get hurt doing mundane things (ie. celebrating, ironing their shirt, or eating a donut. With the three boys I have recently discovered how incredibly often these career threatening injuries actually occur.

Just a couple of nights ago, I was helping the boys into the shower, and after laying out their pajamas for the evening, nearly killed myself when I re-entered the bathroom. The Twin-kies have discovered that playing with toys is fun, but creating an epic mess is more fun. They had thrown a colorful display of stackable cups all over the floor and appeared to be waiting to see what happened when I returned. Now normally I would just pick the cups back up and throw them back into the tub, but I wasn't looking where I was going (the intellectual side of me wants to tell you that I was reading a book, but the truth is probably closer to the ADHD side of me, which would have been checking Facebook or Twitter). Instead of picking up one of those little cups, I stepped on it, and slipped. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but being that this was one cup of many, I promptly steps, and slipped on another and another cup. I kicked the wall pretty hard with my bare foot and then proceeded to fall into the closet (literally falling into a rack of dress shirts). The boys couldn't have been happier, they were laughing and giggling and showed their excitement by throwing out every other toy they could get their hands on.
The hazard zone so thoughtfully laid out by the monkeys. Notice the dog at the far end not even attempting to enter the room for fear of premature hip dysplasia.

I now have a greater understanding of those finely tune athletes that injure themselves in the most mundane of fashions. I am going to say I have and equal chance of injuring myself playing soccer or riding my bike as I do walking around the daily minefield laid out by my three persistent little monkeys.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Perfect Snack

There are moments in any parenting adventure where you are faced with the very real prospect of crying and laughing at the same time. With three boys, I think that my number of occurrences may actually end up slightly ahead of the average bear.

This past Wednesday morning Mrs. B and I were faced with one such event. Mrs. B and I are not what you would call morning people, but that hasn't stopped our boys from all waking up at some very early hours. Thankfully the Twin-kies are pretty well contained since they haven't yet figured out how to climb out of the cribs (by writing that phrase, I have now guaranteed that they will learn this new trick in under a week), and the Boy is pretty good at finding what he needs (food, remote, etc.) to keep himself happy in the morning.

Before you get all self-righteous about the fact that I allow my child to get up and turn on the TV and feed himself before I even greet him in the morning, consider that the one year Mrs. B and I actually commuted together, we didn't actually talk in the morning. I say this just to fully illustrate how much we aren't morning people. Besides, we figure we are teaching him self-sufficiency and responsibility (or at least that is what we tell other people when they look at us with judgmental eyes). The reality is that sometimes he gets up, gets his brothers up, and is potentially up to mischief for about a solid hour, before we get up. Most mornings, at worst, we have to deal with his screaming brothers because they are frustrated that he is messing with them since they can't get out of their cribs (yet)!!! However, other mornings are not so forgiving.

When I awoke this past Wednesday I took a shower right away, knowing the boys were already awake because I could hear them chattering away. They seemed fairly subdued compared to other mornings (note to self this isn't a good sign). As I walked out to pack my lunch in the kitchen I was greeted by the Boy.

"Hi Dada, guess what? I found the perfect snack for me and my brothers . . . and Como (our Lab puppy)."

Little could prepare me for what I found -- certainly not the exploded bag of Cheese-ITs earlier in the week, not the Boy climbing on top of the washer to get down "Pirate Booty” and certainly not the fact that the dogs can, and do, get to pretty much anything in the house.

What I walked in to find with Mrs. B made us both want to laugh and cry all at the same time. The Boy had gotten out the gallon of strawberry ice cream (with spoons . . .I mean we are civilized) and was feeding it through the bars to each of his younger brothers who were thankfully caged (I mean, in their cribs). Although the Twin-kies were covered from head to toe with sticky ice cream, they were still both using their spoons. Como was also covered because she had spent the last 30 minutes neck deep in a melting tub of ice cream. Mrs. B wanted to cry because we were faced with the reality of rewashing pretty much everything in the room, but at the same time it was pretty funny. Unfortunately it was time for me to head off to work, so I bounded out the door with a “Ta Ta!” All the judging mothers out there should know that I was struck down with a massive migraine about two hours later, so I guess it all evened out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

30 Days of Fun (Excerpt)

Thirty days straight of riding my bike. On one hand it didn’t seem like that big of a deal, but somewhere in that part of my brain where rational decisions are made I had a slight tickle of doubt. That was quickly squashed by the bike part of my brain, how hard could it really be to ride my bike 30 straight days, even if it just meant a trip around the block.

Read the rest of the story at Austin On Two Wheels

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crazy Cold Commute

“You biked to school this morning, you must be crazy.....and frozen!” This was exclamation of a co-worker as she held the door for me as I arrived at school. When I started out at 6am and the temperature was a crisp 15 degrees I was incline to believe that I was actually suffering from some kind of sleep deprived idea of grandeur.

Read the rest of the story at Austin on Two Wheels.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Donuts by Bike (excerpt)

“Let’s go get donuts Dada!” From the steamy mornings in August to the cold and windy mornings in February, this little tradition now starts our weekend more often than not. Just a year ago we would do this trip by car, but thanks to 30 Days of Biking, we started loading up a well-worn bike trailer and heading the 3 miles by bike. With three boys under the age of 3 there is no such thing as sleeping in on a Saturday, actually there is never sleeping in regardless of the day.

Read the rest of the story at Austin on Two Wheels.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Baby Boy turns 3

Without trying to get too unbelievably sappy.....MY BABY BOY IS GETTING BIG. There are certainly days in the past where I wished this moment would come so much faster. Those days where you are changing diapers for a kid that who is having a full conversation with you, while at the same time trying to fight off the gag reflex because of the overpowering smell.

Don't worry I still get to experience plenty of that since the Twinkies are just coming into their own, now that they are each just over a year old. It has become particularly real this weekend, when we went out for a walk and The Boy took his new bike out for a spin. Like his father, he has a number of bikes in the stable back home, but this new bike is the closest thing to the bikes I ride on a daily basis, except it doesn't have pedal's. Without turning this into an infomercial, the basic premise is that the kid learns how to balance a two wheeled bike and once you have done that you add pedals that the rest is gravy.

Now back to the story. When he got his new bike for Christmas he couldn't care less about it, in fact, his bigger cousin rode it nearly everyday she was there and was doing quite well at the whole balance thing. However, within the last month, he has started to ride the balance bike more and more. Starting first with both feet shuffling along, but hardly ever leaving the ground, to now, where he does three or four big kicks and then glides with his feet up for as long as he can. I was shocked when he went nearly 50 yards down a gentle grade without ever touching the ground. When he was done, he turned to me (with my big stupid grin on my face) and yelled "I did it, Dada". He sure did, and he now knows he is much closer to going for a bike ride together with dad, instead of being pulled behind in the trailer.

I wonder how many of these little milestones I have missed just hoping for the next big milestone. How do I pick the "big" milestones? I don't think that you can, and so as The Boy moves into the terrific 3's, I vow to appreciate the simple daily milestones more and stop waiting for all the big ones.