Perfect Moment Monday: Joy Rides

by Kathy on September 26, 2011 · 5 comments

in Abby, Family, Perfect Moments, Sean

After a summer hiatus, I was happy to hear that Lori from Write Mind Open Heart was bringing Perfect Moment Mondays back this Fall! The only difference from before is that sharing our “perfect moments” will happen on a monthly basis (4th Monday of each month), instead of weekly. I have known for a few weeks now that today would be the day that Perfect Moment Mondays was returning and so I had plenty of time to look for and capture perfect moments in my life. After a wonderful and very busy summer with my family with some significant endings and new beginnings (including our big move from our old house in our neighborhood to the new home that we live in now), there were certainly plenty of things to choose from.  However, in recent days there was something that seemed to stand out to me, above everything else.

In light of our move, our new location (which is only one block east and six blocks south of where we used to live) has brought a few changes to our life and our routines, especially as it relates to getting our son Sean to and from school each day. As I have shared here before, Sean does not attend our neighborhood Chicago Public School (CPS), but rather tested into one of ten of the CPS’s Regional Gift Centers. We are grateful that he has the opportunity to attend such a wonderful school, though we also would have been happy if he were going to our neighborhood school instead.

Anyway, the CPS provides free bus transportation to students who live more than 1.5 miles away from the school. Our old house was just far away enough to qualify Sean to ride a school bus most days to and from school with some of his neighborhood friends who also go there. Sean really enjoyed riding the school bus with his friends, so we feel that the experience is equal parts social for our son as it is practical and convenient for our family. Our new house is technically less than 1.5 miles away, however due to a cemetery and a golf course, there is no direct way to get there. By the time you take one of the many available routes to the school to bypass the cemetery and golf course, you have traveled closer to 2 miles.

We did fill out and file a “hazard” form with the CPS Bus Transportation division, to request that Sean be allowed to take the bus anyway. The form includes identifying things like railroad crossings (there are two) and big busy intersections (there is one) that Sean (and we) have to cross to get him to school on our own. From what we understand, our application should be approved, likely some time next month (October). We have nearby neighborhood friends who have a child at Sean’s school who filled out this form last year and now is able to take the bus as needed.

In the meantime, back in August before school began, Bob and I were talking with Sean about the various ways to get him to and from school, other than us driving him both ways everyday, as we wait to hear back about bus transportation. Not long before our discussion began this summer, Sean learned to ride his bike without training wheels!

We are so proud of our son and he is understandably also very pleased with himself being able to ride his bike with only two wheels on it now! In light of this new development, we came up with the idea that on days when the weather was nice and we were ready early enough to make it happen, that Sean and I (with Abby riding behind me in a trailer) would try riding our bikes to and from school.

We didn’t do this on the first day of school, as we have a tradition where Bob goes in a little late to work and we all drive Sean to school that day. He also had a lot of school supplies to bring that day, so it made more sense to drive for that reason as well. However, on the second day of school and most days since (if it wasn’t raining or too cold in the morning, as it has been some in recent weeks) we have ridden bikes together to and from school!

We did a dry run one day the week before school started, so I could get a sense of how it would go and if it could work for us.  That trial experience took about 28 minutes each way, which was pretty long, but Sean seemed to really enjoy it (and did Abby and I). So we decided to go for it and figured (correctly as it turns out) that we would get faster as time went on and we got more used to the ride to and from school. Now it usually takes us about 20 minutes each way, though Sean likes to boast about our fastest go of it which took only 17 minutes! Granted things like stop lights and other obstacles play a factor in the timing, though so far we have not caught any freight trains (even with crossing two separate tracks en route).

With each week and day that we have done this, Sean is becoming a more confident bike rider. In the beginning he would get off his bike and walk it in various situations that he was not comfortable with (steep hills and sharp turns), however by the end of this past week he did an entire trip one way without getting off his bike once!  I think this also accounts for the decrease in our travel time.

There have been some obvious benefits to riding bikes with Sean and Abby to and from Sean’s school every day. As you might imagine we are really pleased about the exercise that Sean and I are getting, especially knowing that he only has gym class for 20 minutes once a week and 40 minutes every other week. We also like the “green” factor, in that we are saving the environment from the pollution our car emits. Saving money on gas doesn’t hurt either. However, some of our favorite parts of our “joy rides,” were things I had not anticipated.

Sean tends to ride fairly slowly when we bike to and from school and I ride as close behind him as I can without bumping into him. Because of this, we are able to chat a lot on our rides to and from school. We both really enjoy our conversations along the way, as we talk about our days. Sean will tell Abby and me (though I don’t think she is able to hear as much from behind me in the bike trailer) about what he did at school and then he will ask us to share highlights from our day so far. Yes, we can do the same thing when we are riding to and from school or other places in the car, but there is something about the relaxed nature of a bike ride that makes our conversations flow more easily.

Over the past month we have enjoyed varying the routes we take to and from school on our bikes, so it has been adventure seeing various parts of our neighborhood and deciding which ways are the fastest, have the least amount of obstacles and are the most scenic. Sean has commented and I agree, about how friendly some of the people in our neighborhood are, as often when we ride past their homes or see them on the sidewalk, they will smile and say “hello” or “good morning.”

The staff, students and parents at Sean’s school seem to get a kick out of seeing us come and go on our bikes. There are other kids and families that also ride their bikes that we feel a kinship with there. We enjoy talking with the other bikers in the mornings and afternoons when we are locking up and unlocking Sean’s bike and they are doing the same.

After we lock up Sean’s bike in the morning and he heads into school, Abby likes to hang out for a bit before we head home. She likes to get out of the trailer, take off her helmet and then walk around to see what is going on around us outside of her big brother’s school. Since not everyone arrives at school at the same time, we will often visit with other parents and students who are around during this time. One of the things we also typically do before riding home is we watch two older students from Sean’s school who come out every morning to raise the American flag on a pole there. Abby enjoys seeing what they are doing and we usually clap for them when the are done, which I think embarrasses them a bit, but they don’t seem to mind very much.

As the weather gets cooler and we have more rainy (and eventually snowy) days here in Chicago, I imagine that we will not ride our bikes as often as we have been so far this school year. Also, if and when we get the green light for Sean to ride the school bus, we may also take advantage of that option more often than not. However, in the meantime, I know that Sean, Abby and I are really enjoying and making the most of the many “perfect moments” that we are having on our “joy rides!”

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Lori from Write Mind Open Heart says that “Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.” I love the idea of being mindful of and blogging about perfect moments. In the past I have often used my blog more to write about things I am struggling with and though I know that is valid and important for me at times, I appreciate the idea of being intentional about also sharing the simple and very special moments in our lives. Many thanks to Lori for this idea, a wonderful opportunity to focus on what is right in our life, instead of what is wrong. 

Click here to read about and comment on more Perfect Moments (there are links to others’ posts at the bottom of Lori’s blog entry).

I hope that you have a wonderful week and that you are aware of, as well as able to notice, many perfect moments in your own lives.

Lastly, tomorrow I am hosting the first Time Warp Tuesday here on my blog. I am so excited to see what you have to share! 

Click here to read more about Time Warp Tuesdays, find out this week’s topic and get your posts ready (if haven’t done so yet) for this new and wonderful blog hop.

I hope to see you back here tomorrow and I look forward to “doing the Time Warp” with you!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lavender Luz September 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Sounds like a morning ritual that is meaningful now to you (with the talks and the sweet time) and memorable for your children. I hope you have an extended Fall just so you can keep it up as long as possible!

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2 Lori September 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm

What a great story and tradition for day 1 of school. Hope Sean has a wonderful year of discovery and learning!

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3 RoseAnn September 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm

What a great family tradition! While some people would be grumbling about the extra time and effort required and bemoaning the delay in getting bussing approved, I love that you've taken a positive look at it and made the best of the situation!

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4 HereWeGoAJen September 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm

That sounds so nice! Our elementary school is nearby here too, so I suspect in a couple of years we may end up doing the same type of thing.

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5 St Elsewhere September 29, 2011 at 8:52 am

It really sounds fantastic….Sean will become very confident through this, and Abby is so enjoying herself with this.

Glad this is what your morning looks like – really perfect.

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