17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Family that Plays Together

We didn't really have a family hobby in NYC. Maybe it was eating out? We did like to do that together. But, we always craved something more. Something outdoorsy. After living in Southern CA for the last nine months, we have noticed that the favorite pastime of . . . well basically everyone in our city, is biking. Street biking, mountain biking, there are biking paths everywhere! On Saturdays those bike paths are full of people riding everywhere (and sometimes in large, scary packs).

So, we figured, when in Rome, do as the Romans, right?

It's taken us about a month to purchase all the "necessities"-- two adult mountain bikes, 1 bike trailer, 4 bike helmets, a bike pump, bike tools, a bike lock, bike shorts with butt padding, CO2 air cartridges, gloves, water bottles, tire tubes, car rack, bike storage system, etc, etc (seriously, I had no idea what we were getting into).

Finally, this past Saturday was our first stab at what we hope will become our new family hobby--Bicycle Riding.

We found a trailhead only a mile from our house, The path was wide and relatively smooth - perfect for our maiden voyage. DH had the task of pulling the trailer with the kids behind his bike, but didn't feel bad. I carted those two around by myself for 9 months each, I think it's about time he takes his turn.

It was a gorgeous ride that included 3 stream crossings each way (which were hard but really fun) and we ended up eating our picnic lunch together next to a stream. Princess got a chance to take her shoes off, wade in the water and throw rocks and Pumpkin sat and happily played in the dirt. There was nature, there was physical activity and we were all together as a family. I was tearing up at how perfect it all was--and so completely accessible to us now.

Some days I really miss NYC. This was not one of those days.

I hope our bikes can avoid the fate of our past "couple hobbies" and not end up collecting dust in the garage with the tennis rackets and roller blades (cause it's going to be one very expensive "almost hobby"). But I realize it's won't be easy. We are really going to have to work at carving out the time to make it stick. It's weird that you have to work so hard sometimes to have fun together as a family. It seems Life enjoys pulling everyone in different directions.

Has anyone else been successful in starting family hobbies? Maybe some less expensive ones? And ones that can be done while pregnant (the bike riding thing can only be done between pregnancies)? What do you like to do together as a family?


  • ummmmm.....

    we need help...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 10/16/2006 06:07:00 AM  

  • That is so cool you guys are a biking family! There really aren't a lot of hobbies that a young family can participate in together, but biking is one of them.

    This is one thing we have loved about life in No Virginia (and there aren't many). We are just a few blocks from a great trailhead. We are going to have to invest in a shed, however, since our townhouse doesn't have a garage.

    Biking doesn't have to be uber expensive. You can get really good used bikes and trailers off craigslist. And unlike skiing or snowboarding, you don't have to pay every time you go out. I would definitely make sure you have quality brands, new or used. Burley makes the best and lightest, trailers hands down! Is that what you guys bought, Carrie? It looked like it from the link.

    One thing I haven't figured out...how to keep the kids interested in long rides while they sit in their trailer. The newness of the trailer wears off after awhile. I am going to start mixing up short rides to get ice cream with longer rides and see if that helps.

    I also think it would be really fun to be a surfing family....although that is a few years and lots of lessons away for us.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 10/16/2006 06:28:00 AM  

  • There's also the gap between when they can ride in the trailer and when they can independently ride beside you. Jen, do you have an idea of how to handle this?
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 10/16/2006 08:11:00 AM  

  • Jen,

    I was hoping to find some of our bikes or the trailer on Craigslist, but after 3 weeks of looking, and not finding anything, we were itching to get started and went out and bought everything new. If you have patience, used is definitley the way to go.

    We actually went with a Chariot trailer. We had the kids sit in a Burley and they didn't seem as comfortable. I am so glad we went with a quality brand though, because I am certain one of the cheaper trailers wouldn't have made it through the terrain we took it through. I was completely impressed.

    Good idea about mixing up the length and type of rides to keep them intersted. For our first ride, the kids were both enthralled by the newness and Princess was just concentrating on being brave through all the big bumps, splashes and fast downhill cruising.

    Oh man, surfing does sound like fun.

    I have been thinking about this issue too. Princess will be too big to ride in the trailer next year and not big enough to handle the trails by herself yet. I was thinking that we could change from trail riding to street cruising. It would be easier for her to bike by herself. There are great bike trails on the beach that we could try--all paved and flat. Until then, we need keep workign on her solo biking skills.

    They also make these kinds of bike trailers which might be good for that transition time.

    Another idea--my brother takes his little girl (4) on family bikes rides (she rides her own bike). He just brings a tow rope that he attaches to help pull her up hills and slow her down on the downhills. Not great for trail riding, but seems to work for them during street rides.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 10/16/2006 08:39:00 AM  

  • We love to fly kites, hike, and ski as a family. I have to admit our bike riding adventures were very short lived and we just got all the gear from Santa last year.

    One thing I love to do with my boys is cook. We have one night a week when we make something together as a family (pizza is favorite). Its a mess, time consuming, but so worth it to see the smiles on their faces.
    posted by Blogger trimama at 10/16/2006 09:16:00 AM  

  • I'm a big fan of winter sports. I taught snow skiing for a time and completely look forward to teaching our little guy to ski in a few years. Maybe its not for everyone - but I love the snow and so do the little ones too. Unfortuneately this falls in the MOST EXPENSIVE hobby catagory.
    posted by Anonymous Emilys at 10/16/2006 09:18:00 AM  

  • If Princess starts getting bored on our rides, we'll just have to go faster and over rougher terrain. I'm pretty sure I can keep her scared enough not to get bored!

    Also, I think we will eventually need to expand on our destinations. If the kids know we are going to get ice cream or going to the beach, they might endure a longer bike ride even though the newness of the ride itself has worn off.

    Worst case scenario - we just take a portable DVD player in the trailer. That seems to keep kids' interest in the car and on the plane. : ) Yes, we love nature . . . so long as we can watch TV in it.
    posted by Blogger Todd L. at 10/16/2006 09:37:00 AM  

  • We have a great family hobby called geocaching. It is a fun hobby for the whole family -- little kids included. Geocaching is a GPS-powered treasure hunt.

    Here's how it works.

    You make the initial investment in a GPS-Receiver. Ours is a Garmin eTrex Legend, and costs around $150 online. That's all you have to buy. Ever.

    Then you go to the www.geocaching.com website where you look up caches, or treasures, near your location.

    You enter the latitude and longitude into your GPS, and then you let the GPS navigate you to the treasure location.

    The GPS usually gets you within about 20 feet of the hidden treasure. Then you have to use your geocaching "skills" to find the treasure.

    Each cache is rated on a scale of 1-5 for difficulty in how hard the cache is to find, and from 1-5 on how accessible the cache is. A 1 rating means you can probably drive up to it. A 5 means you probably need special equipment to get to it (climbing gear, scuba gear, etc.)

    Caches can't be buried, but can be hidden in the cleverest places.

    Some caches have a pile of treasures that you can trade with (usually simple knickknacks); often you'll take one item from a cache and leave it in another one. All caches have a log book so you can write down your name when you find it.

    We took a 4-year-old niece and a 6-year-old nephew geocaching, and they LOVED it. We went for about 3 hours and found probably 8 caches, and they had a blast. The 3-year-old called them "Easters" because the caches are hidden, like Easter eggs.

    Anyway, my wife and I love this activity. You can do it year round, and around the world. We've been caching in Utah, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, California, Canada, and Mexico. There are currently over 300,000 caches in over 200 countries.

    For more info on geocaching, you can check out the FAQ on their website:


    Very cool. Very fun. And after the initial investment in the GPS, very, very cheap.

    On thing we love is taking the GPS with us on trips. Before we leave we'll search for caches along our travel route. Then as we are driving, we get to stop every couple of hours, get out of the car, walk around, find a cache, and then get back in the car and continue our journey. We've found tons of parks and monuments we never would have found, and seen a lot of fun stuff, all while having fun on a family activity.

    Can you tell I like geocaching? I'm rambling, sorry. :)

    Anyway, if it sounds interesting, check it out. I think you'll be glad you did.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10/16/2006 12:22:00 PM  

  • Inexperienced dad, I was out hiking a month ago and ran into a dad with his two kids geo-caching. He was an enthusiast, and I talked to him for a while about it. I am thinking this would be a great activity for my family. With two smallish kids, we can do simpler caches, and this gives them a good motivation for tramping around in nature a bit. My 5 year old daughter is a bit reluctant with most things that require a bit of physical endurance (even if only moderate), but I think this would really coax her out of it. Thanks for reminding me about it! I am going to look into getting a GPS receiver.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 10/16/2006 01:05:00 PM  

  • inexperienced dad,

    I am so glad you brought this up (although you beat me to my next post). I started geocaching with my daughters about a month ago. I have two adult nieces who introduced me to it and I find the whole thing facinating, fun and exciting (although I there is a strange subculture to it I am now finding).

    We picked up a used GPS (garmin Etrex legend as well) on Ebay for under $100 that works really well. There are almost 20 caches hidden
    within 1 mile of our home so we started there.
    Princess just loves looking for the cache so she can trade trinkets.

    One of my favorite things about geocaching is that it usually takes you to spots you never would have ventured to on your own. It is a great way to get to know the areas around where you live.

    It is a fun hobby to do in conjunction with hiking and biking and great when traveling like you said. My dh isn't really into it yet. He's only been on two hunts and both were unsuccessful - not quite as fun. I am thinking that if we each had a GPS system it might be more fun.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 10/16/2006 01:25:00 PM  

  • I hoping once we get a back yard that can be our hobby . . . that counts right?
    posted by Blogger Trivial Mom at 10/16/2006 03:11:00 PM  

  • OKay, here's a few that have worked for us
    Gardening. We planted indoors just before spring and we got really good sprouts going by planting time. We didn't label some of our seeds so they would be a surprise garden (we read it in a book)
    Biking/walking. We live right on the trail so it's easy to do. We count birds and animals, it's fun. And FYI, I biked until I was too big to get on the bike with my pregnancies, avoiding only the first 3 months.Yes, it was okay with my docs.
    There are geocaching sites just for kids. We would do it if we could afford it. I hear there's a point right in the middle of the lake here.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 10/16/2006 07:36:00 PM  

  • Now that summer is over this may not apply as much (unless you happen to LIVE somewhere warm year-round) but our (slightly extended)family which includes me, dh, 3 younger married sisters, 1 single sis, 1 single bro, 3 kids, 1 baby, and a partridge in a pear tree. J/K!! =)

    We LOVE going to the beach! The kids love playing in the sand.. and water and really we all love it. It isn't one of those things we do all the time, but even several times in the summer it is the best relaxing family togetherness activity we've experienced!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 10/16/2006 07:59:00 PM  

  • We have a 3 1/2 year old and a 2 year old so we' re just now getting to stuff we all like to do as a family. The kids and dad LOVE to play soccer in the backyard every night before and after dinner - that is their time. Going to the farmers market is fun. We like going to the beach together - we can stay 3-4 hours at a stretch. I think that our favorite thing though is to take trips - we're a family that likes to travel. And we're not going anywhere exotic...yet. Our kids are great travelers and love seeing new places. As they get older I'd love to take them to Europe or India and just EXPLORE. Fun for the whole family.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 10/16/2006 09:47:00 PM  

  • Ok, I can't wait to try geocaching now! Thanks for the great idea!

    Our family is not too adventurous at this point with 4,3,2 and 9 month old kids we're not very mobile. But one tradition we love is every Sunday after church we bake some kind of treat and then, when that inevitable moment arrives - you know, that moment around 4:00 where everyone starts to melt down - we pile in the mini and go ding-dong ditch the treat at some unsuspecting ward member's house. It's so fun for all of us and it helps us get through the day where everyone's whining because they can't play outside. :)
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 10/18/2006 08:07:00 PM  

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