ADVENTURES IN BIKING, EPISODE 634

I’ve always loved biking with my kids.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk7Back in the day, I’d tell my freelance clients I had a “meeting,” load the toddler version of R-boy into the Burley, cram R-girl’s purple bike into the tiny seat next to him (i.e., on top of him), and pedal the three miles to her preschool, where we’d pick her up and bike home together.

Cruising along on two wheels with my kids by my side is still one of my favorite ways to spend an hour or two.

That is, if we could just get to the biking part.

Lately we seem to be hitting every literal and metaphorical bump in the road.

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Last week, for example, our outing to Betty Danger’s in Northeast Minneapolis for a round of mini golf resulted in us arriving at said destination, securing our bikes to the bike rack, walking a few feet toward the establishment, and then walking those same few feet back because R-boy wanted to adjust his lock.

We then spent the next 90 minutes fighting with his brand new lock, which is apparently so impossible to pick that you sometimes can’t even open it with the actual key. That you own.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

We sat on the pavement taking turns wiggling the key in the lock, flagging down strangers for help, calling the bike shop where he had just bought the fancy new lock, calling locksmiths, calling his dad for help, and finally breaking in with a paper clip.

By that time, R-boy’s tire had somehow become flat and he had to get a ride home.

Needless to say, no mini golf.

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So, last night we tried again. No one had the energy for mini golf, but maybe we’d bike back to Betty Danger’s for a treat of some sort.

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R-girl’s tire was completely flat when she rolled it out of the garage. This has happened before. What has not happened before is that after the tire is pumped up, we can hear air hissing right back out of it.

“Think we should still go?” someone said.

“Well I don’t want to just stay here,” someone else said. We all agreed.

“That tire might not make it.”

“But it might.”

“I think there’s probably a gas station or two near the route if we get desperate.”

“Hopefully they have air?”

“Hmmm. What do you guys think?”

“This might not work.”

“Let’s do it.”

And we were off.

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Within minutes, R-girl was saying, “It’s getting lower.”

“Should we turn back?”

“No!”

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We soon learned that the front tire on R-girl’s bike had a shelf life of approximately three miles. Three and a half if you detoured off your intended route, rode the last few blocks on a completely flat tire, and continually said things like, “This is impossible to pedal! I can’t steer. I think I should walk it now. How much further?”

Almost exactly at that point in the ride, we reached Gas Station A and paid fifty cents to refill her tire.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk5Once the air hose was removed, there was no time to dawdle. We could not only hear the air hissing back out, we could basically see it escaping through the brittle cracks in her tire.

We jumped on our bikes and headed back the way we’d come.

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The shelf life was shrinking. Now it only took about two miles before R-girl was saying, “It’s almost flat again!”

“Should we make R-boy ride home and grab our bike pump?” I said.

“No,” said R-boy.

“I think I can make it to the next gas station,” said R-girl.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3She did.

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And after a 75-cent refill at Gas Station B, she made it home.

Probably never to ride that bike again.

Adventures in biking - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk10I’d say that’s appropriate, because we’ve owned it for longer than she’s been around, which is 10 days shy of 19 years.

Also, she’s requested that our resident cycling expert (R-boy) find her a great (totally hip) road bike for her birthday.

So the adventures will continue. Hopefully a little smoother next time.

xo

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HEY, FATHERS

dad and me - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk
To all you fathers who have
shown up,
stuck around,
raised up,
cheered on,
cared for,
and sat down.

To the fathers
who are still doing it
day in and day out.

And to the fathers
who always meant to do it.

To the fathers who are
strong,
wise,
safe,
steady,
tender,
protective,
wacky,
and true.

And to the fathers
who hope they are
at least some of those things,
at least some of the time.

To the fathers who are
loved,
known,
respected,
and treasured.

To the fathers who are
missed,
grieved,
and longed for.

To the fathers who have
stepped in
and become a father
to the fatherless.

You matter.

More
than you probably know.

More
than you might have intended to.

More
than anything can ever change.

Thank you for giving life.

And thank you
for every single moment that you
have chosen
(and still choose)
your children
by offering your brave,
imperfect
best.

Nothing can ever
replace
the father that is
you.

 

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Happy Father’s Day to my sweet dad who spent hours and hours sitting on the floor with me. And Happy Father’s Day to all the rest of you very important men!

xo

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THAT’S WHAT’S UP

Tomorrow I will point my Honda Pilot in the direction of R-girl, load her stuff back into it, and drive her home from her first year of college.

I have no idea how this is even possible. I literally just dropped her off. And yet, this day feels decidedly different than last August 28 did. Like, different-universe different. So a few things must have happened in between now and then. Right?

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetBecause, in case you missed it, I had kind of a rough time saying goodbye to R-girl last fall – and to the amazing chapter of my life that ended when she left.

Besides the fresh absence of one of my favorite people to hug, besides the huge void in our suddenly two-person household, besides the mid-life-crisis-divorced-single-parent anxieties, the worst part of saying goodbye to that chapter was that I had no idea how the next one would look.

But I had plenty of fears.

What if R-girl and I were finished? What if I was not only losing her in proximity but also in relationship? What if I would now only hear from her on Mother’s Day and see her at Christmas, if I was lucky? What if I would no longer get to listen to her hopes and her dreams and her analysis of everyone’s Myers-Briggs personality types and her crazy, giggly antics with her very best friends? What if I was being demoted to the least important person in her life? 

I knew that all of those losses were possible. I knew that many losses were necessary and normal. I knew I would survive. But I didn’t yet know how.

If I’m being honest, I was as scared as I was sad. Yes, I was happy for R-girl to start her new life, but a big part of me wanted things to stay the way they had been for so long. Familiar and comforting. I felt childish and selfish to sometimes want the opposite of what she was so excited for. I felt alone as I wrestled the unknowns – as well as the knowns. And I felt helpless to fight off the feelings.

So I didn’t.

I let them come.

I let her go.

I let time pass.

I let myself adjust, reacclimate, and start to enjoy the new rhythms of my life.

And now…

I find myself here.

A whole school year into this new chapter.

Things have definitely changed. In some pretty great ways, actually. There have been a few (very sweet) surprises. And even though R-girl is coming home for the summer, it’s clear: This is a new chapter of R-fam, not a return to the old one. And that’s a good thing.

Oh, and guess what? 

Here’s what:

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Here’s to new chapters being unexpectedly richer than the last, friends. xo

Posted in Growing, Hard Things, Heart Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Single-Momming, Wise Things | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response

IS THIS REAL LIFE?

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Do you ever find it hard to believe
that the season you’ve longed for
and dreamed of
and spoken of only in whispers

for so long

that it began to seem more like legend
or fairytale
or prophesy
of the most fantastically preposterous variety –
and the monotony of waiting for it
eventually lulled your hope into a
cold
dark
deep
endless
slumber –

may have actually arrived?

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Me too.

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Here’s to signs of new life (and warmth), friends.

xo

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And also, here’s to Margit Mindrum, who I just discovered is the talent behind the painting that currently hangs near my front door. I found it at a thrift store (naturally) but decided to learn who M. Mindrum is.

Here’s what I now know:
– She didn’t start painting until she was in her mid-50s – after her six children were grown.
– Over the next 20 years, she completed more than 600 paintings and had a waiting list three years long.
– She was featured in an exhibition at the James J. Hill House, titled “Minnesota Painters of Norwegian Background.”
– She never had any formal training.
– She wrote a memoir for her family and called it No Change My Heart Shall Fear, which sounds so inspiring that I’m considering buying it on Amazon. I would bet she borrowed the title from a line in this hymn.

Thanks for creating so much beauty in the second half of your life, Margit, and for welcoming this new season to mine.

 

 

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MOTHERING

to mother - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

To mother is

to care for
to sacrifice
to protect

to soothe
to see
to hold

to cheer
to guide
to clean up messes

to play
to cry
to ache

to smother
to control
to royally mess up

to own it
to learn
to grow

to hang on
and
to let go

over and over again.

 

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Whether the mothering in your life came from your mother, or from others, or from your own adult self; whether it came from somewhere up above, or someone unexpected, or some intricately woven combination of it all…

Whether you have birthed a child, or raised one, or loved one, or nurtured the child-heart inside someone else…

Whether your experience with your mother was safe and precious, or jagged and complex, or distant and unclear, or all of the above…

Happy Day of Truly Needed and Beautifully Human Mothers.

 

xo

 

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THINGS I LEARNED IN APRIL

1. The new bike that has joined our household may be from the 80s but apparently it’s not cool to call it a ten-speed anymore.

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2. Some bike shops are more aesthetically pleasing than others.

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3. The new, gaudy ferris wheel that just went up in Northeast Minneapolis provides a 20-minute ride complete with drinks, snacks, a fantastically kitchy experience, amazing views of the city, and, best of all, a blanket if you’re chilly/me. I definitely recommend checking out the brand new Betty Danger’s Country Club. The day R-boy and I stopped in (as a short detour on our first long bike ride of the spring), the Food Network was there filming. Perhaps we will be famous.

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4. My childhood church still uses the same hymnals. I learned this while I was there watching my niece and nephew perform in an adorable musical at my alma mater church.

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5. Artists are everywhere. And not just at the St. Paul Art Crawl, where I met some amazing painters last weekend. Also in the incredible circle of beautiful, creative people who surround my life. And also in the high school classroom where my friend Stephanie teaches art.

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6. I stay far warmer on a January day that’s 30 degrees below zero than pretty much any spring day during baseball season.

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7. These two people continue to amaze and delight me.

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8. And life can take some pretty crazy turns. Now and then, some really beautiful ones that catch you completely off guard.

Am I right?

 

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Here’s to learning more great stuff in May, friends.

 

xo

Posted in Cool Things, Everyday Things, Fun Things, Happy Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Playing, Random Things, Raving | 1 Response

MY NEW OLD FRIEND

You guys! I’m not even kidding. I was right here last night. Without a blanket. Or a parka. What is happening??!

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk6The cushions are out. The French doors have been unlocked. And the screen porch is officially open.

Could it be that spring may actually be springing?

I know, I know. I’ll have to close it all back up again next week during the impending cold snap. And perhaps I’ll even have to shelter the cushions from a Minnesota May snowstorm like we had two years ago (please, God, no).

But I did get to spend last evening on the porch with a new friend of mine, and I’m choosing to believe there will soon be many more.

Because the only thing better than a book or a beer or a breakfast – or really anything on the screen porch – is a friend on the screen porch with me.

So. Want to meet my newest friend?

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1We met online.

A little place called Craigslist.

I saw this guy and drove way out of my usual self-imposed mileage limits – in the dead of winter – to grab him. He was a beauty, and a steal.

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3 screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2 screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk4Perfectly imperfect, with pretty handsome bones, if I do say so myself.

I might paint him up, I might not. We’re just getting to know each other for now. I’ll give it a minute before I make any drastic decisions.

Besides, as you know, I’m kind of a sucker for anything that’s been around long enough to have a story. Do I really want to cover all that up? (Maybe.)

Either way, I think we’re going to have a pretty great summer together.

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk5And there’s plenty of room to make a few more stories here. Care to join us??

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Here’s to new seasons, new friends, and always lots of new old stuff to keep you company.

xo

Posted in Beautiful Things, Chilling, Cool Things, Decorating, Finding, House Things, Junking, Raving, Yard Things | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

IN BETWEEN

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetOne sunset from Good Friday. One sunrise from Easter.

Some might call it the place in between the despair and the hope.

But, really, the only people who can easily call it that are those who’ve seen the end of the story.

Because for those who were actually living that soo-not-good Friday, I’m positive that their Saturday was still, fully, overwhelmingly, a place of despair. With an ample serving of confusion, grief, fear, anger, and hopelessness.

And, let’s be honest, for most of us, a whole lot of life happens in that place – on the Saturday after the pain invades and before the hope shows up.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time there. More than I’ve wanted, for sure. And when I’ve been in that place, if there’s one thing that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other, walking toward a hope I can’t see, it’s the people in my life. It’s what they see and affirm and speak on my behalf. It’s what they believe is true, about me and about life. And it’s how they don’t try to push me to be someplace I’m not.

This song is to those of you who keep me believing – and to the rest of you who keep someone else believing. You know who you are.

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“Believing”
by Emily Shackleton, Kate York & Tami Hinesh

I don’t remember,
How I got here,
When my rose-colored glasses disappeared

Sometimes my fingers
They can lose touch
Start letting go of everything I love

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

My fears are safe here
Held in your hands
When I’m broken
You put me back together again

All that I once was
All I could be
When I’ve forgotten,
Baby you remind me

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

If ever your red heart starts beating blue
All you are to me
Baby I’ll be that for you

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning
When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning

You keep me believing
You keep me believing
You keep me believing

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May all your Silent Saturdays be filled with soothing songs of hope, friends.

xo

 

 

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THE BARBER SHARP

One thing that’s always been true about R-boy is this: It might take him a while to decide what he wants (there’s no might about it – I’ve grown old in the Target aisles waiting for him to spend a $25 gift card), but once he knows, he knows.

Don’t bother with the questions. He knows.

barber sharp - shorts and longs 1

So when, after several weeks of pondering, he announced on Saturday morning that he had decided what he wanted to do with his hair, had found the barber shop that would do it, and wanted me to drive him there, I should have known better than to ask: Are you sure? Is this a barber shop? Or a stylist? Do they do more than buzz cuts? Can they handle that style? Can your hair type handle that style? Do you realize you’ll have to use product to make that look work? Are you willing to? Do you know how to? Do they have room for you today?

Yes, Mom. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.Yes.Yes.Yes! Stop! Let’s go. 

barber sharp - shorts and longs 4(I know, I know, obsessive. But, you guys! This is the boy who’s walked out of more than one haircut with his eyes welling up, devastated by a cut he didn’t like. I couldn’t take more heartbreak.)

Finally, when I got behind the wheel and he gave me the address, I understood that all would be well. We were headed to the very heart of hipsterville. He would definitely be in good hair-styling hands.

And I was right.

Or, I should say. R-boy was right. As usual.

Check out The Barber Sharp in Northeast Minneapolis.

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This place was so hipster that all of-age guests were offered the obvious beverage of choice.

barber sharp - shorts and longs 2(This one was left behind by someone else, calm down, people.)

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I wasn’t allowed to direct, watch, come near, or comment upon the proceedings.

barber sharp - shorts and longs 81

And I was barely allowed to rave. But I’m doing that anyway.


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I mean, come on.

Right???

P.S. R-boy, happy half birthday! 15.5 and counting…

Posted in Cool Things, Finding, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Single-Momming, Styling, Wandering | Tagged , | 2 Responses

MAKE IT A TRIPLE

You know what I like about Triple A?

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They never say, “Wait. What? You locked your keys in the car?

“AGAIN?”

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They never mutter, “Holy blockhead, Batman.”

They never say, “Yeah, remember that time you locked your keys in the car at the end of a date, and the guy had to sit there in the parking lot and wait for us to show up while he was supposed to be getting back to his kids at home?”

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They never sigh loudly.

They never lecture me on how to not lock keys in a car.

They never say, “Oh noooo, it’s fine. Fine. I mean, I think I might have strep throat and I’ve already changed four tires tonight and it’s pitch black out here, but I didn’t really want to stay in that warm vehicle of mine anyway.”

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They never say, “Seriously. Next time you’re on your own.”

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They just show up with their big truck full of magic tools – even when it’s ten below zero – smile, and get me back into my car. Like a boss. Like a hero.

So I can finally drive away from my 24/7 fitness club and take myself, my son, and my keys back to where we belong.

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Not that anything like that happened recently or anything.

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Here’s to being as kind to yourself (and your people) as AAA would be.

Even about maddening moves that might occur now and then (and possibly again).

xo

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