cycling

Our free wheeling 11 year old!

Our oldest daughter has just turned 11 and she celebrated in sunny California (her first ‘summer’ Birthday – as she was born in the middle of New Zealand’s winter – on a particularly wild day in Wellington!). She has grown tall enough to have her first proper bike, with gears and all that jazz, for cruising around. She very much wanted a retro style bike, with a large saddle, mud guards and room for a basket. She’s not keen on mountain biking, but definitely needed some gears for when we get back home to hilly Wellington, New Zealand.

On the morning of her Birthday she slept in – way past midday – finally waking at nearly 2pm in the afternoon (she’d spent the night before on Skype with her New Zealand pals), giving her Daddy plenty of time to go and pick up her new bike. She woke to her sisters greeting her in bed. They had been so excited to see her open her presents and waited very patiently all morning. The afternoon was a wonderfully relaxed one, with the girls all cruising on their bikes down the lane by the house. We ate a very late brunch and celebrated in the evening with a wee cake. Miss 11 was quite overwhelmed (in a good way) at her bike.

Birthday wheels for Miss 11

I was reminded of my own first ‘big bike’, a white racer that I rode throughout my teenage years all around the country lanes of north Hampshire, in England, where I grew up. I have so many fond memories of Sunday bike rides with my Dad and sister (usually with a pub stop for lunch, a coke-a-cola in a glass bottle with a straw and a packet of salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps!). It was wonderful to have those wheels and the freedom to visit friends. I kept my bike well into my University years and spent my first holiday with Dan, my now hubby, cruising around the Isle of Wight on my bike. We spent a week cycling up and down the hills of the beautiful island off the south coast of England, a short ferry ride from Southampton, and camping in a wee tent.

I could see in my daughter’s eyes the significance of this new set of wheels, how she envisioned herself biking around the bays of Wellington and along the waterfront (on those stunning sunshine days – probably not in a howling southerly!). It’s the perfect bike for her.

A few days after her Birthday she ventured out a little further on her bike, enjoying an evening ride with her Daddy around the streets of Montecito in Santa Barbara. The first of many rides!

She also celebrated her Birthday with a visit to a super duper cinema at ‘Muvico Thousand Oaks‘, where she watched Transformers 4 (she loves all things science fiction) in 3D and sat on a ‘D-BOX‘ seat! Her eight year old sister and Daddy joined her. They thought it was amazing and the ‘D-BOX’ seats were a huge hit! 

She’s done so well this past year, having to leave the school she loved in Wellington, New Zealand, to live in California, USA, for a while. She was so brave in making the move. She has missed her friends and school very much, but coped brilliantly. The ‘icing on the cake’ of her Birthday celebrations was the news that we will be flying back to her home in Wellington, New Zealand, in early October this year – just in time for ‘Term 4’ at the school she loves and to be a part of her dance school’s end of year show. She’ll then have the long summer break before starting Year 8 in 2015. She’s so thrilled and the sparkle in her eyes and smile has totally returned.

Let’s Go Ride! Miss 4 & Her New Cycling Adventures

She’s got pedal power and she’s not afraid to use it! She’s done her practice ‘miles’, with cycling around the house and down the lane. This week Miss 4 decided she had what was needed to make it from the house to the village, and back, on her wheels (with a stop for a bite to eat and something to drink mid-way at Pierre La Fonds).

The way there was up hill all the way – and dear Daddy aided her pedal power with some back crippling pushing (he totally deserved his poached eggs on toast).

On the return journey it was downhill all the way, but Miss 4 wasn’t interested in breaking any speed records. She was happier to enjoy the scenery, stopping every few minutes to point out a flower, take a drink, and eat some salad.

Pedal and point

A lizard was worth stopping for, a butterfly and a hummingbird too.

Flowers of every colour bordered the pathway and Miss 4 picked a small collection to make a posy for her Mummy.

Picking a posy of flowers for Mamma

A beautiful sunshine, Sunday morning, all the better on wheels!

Flowers of every colour

Go Miss 4! We look forward to many more pedal power adventures!

Linking up with ….

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Burning some rubber with the kids on the Santa Barbara waterfront!

With three children constantly at home it’s not easy to fit in exercise (well, not in the way I’d like – though I do get plenty of movement cleaning up after them and running around playing crazy games… and moving the wine glass to my mouth…).

This week, with friends visiting from New Zealand, we had the impetus to have some focused outdoor fun (especially since the older children were rather hooked on Minecraft gaming action and needed fresh air and sunshine more than they realised!).

We hired a few bikes down on the Santa Barbara waterfront, catching the last of the light before sundown and pedalled like crazy for a good half an hour.

Biking on the Santa Barbara waterfront

A gentle wind even got up, reminiscent of Wellington – where you’d almost always expect to be pedalling head on into the wind (and being blown along the other way). It was a blast and made us all feel so ‘alive’ (especially me – desperate for a little exercise!). Little Miss 3 loved sitting on the back seat of a double coupe, which I pedalled with the help of our New Zealand friend. My older girls pedalled independently (Miss 10 very relieved to not have to ride a pink bike… whilst Miss 7, on the other hand, couldn’t have been happier to have some ‘flower power’ to coordinate with her pink heeled boots!).

Pedal fun at sundown in Santa Barbara

It was a great end to the day, with the daylight fading all too fast in this winter season of short days, but leaving a beautiful scene for us to enjoy.

Sun down Santa Barbara

 

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Linking up this post with other wonderful folk,
who also love outdoor fun with their children, at…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Weekending It! All action!

Having the man of the house home at the weekend gives us family time to get out and really explore this place – and we certainly had an action packed weekend of it!

The man of the house

Whilst the rest of us were barely awake he headed off for an early morning paddle board, returning back mid-morning for a quick appointment with a lady from a tutoring business, as we’re organising tutors for our older girls in some key subjects, to compliment their ‘natural learning’.

Then we all headed out for a family time of biking along the beautiful Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara, to the marina area for lunch.

We found a great cafe called, ‘Endless Summer’, right next to the Maritime Museum. It was the most relaxed, family lunch we’ve enjoyed in a while. A perfect setting, beautiful scenery and a fantastic, affordable, children’s menu (win, win!).

View over marina from Endless Summer Cafe

After lunch, and cycling back towards the central town of Santa Barbara, we enjoyed a little browse in the ‘Funk Zone’, where we found a gorgeous antique shop, jam packed, from floor to ceiling, with treasures, as well as a cute little surf museum.

Funk Zone Santa Barbara

After a busy morning, we went home for an afternoon rest before visiting friends in the evening.

Sunday was another action packed day.

We decided to head south to Santa Monica Pier and the fairground there.

Santa Monica Pier

We all had a fabulous time, with lots of rides to keep our youngest child amused, as well as the older ones.

Fun at the Fair

 

Santa Monica Pier

Just as we were heading back to the car, for drive home to Santa Barbara, we saw a man with two snakes! Our Miss 10 would so love a pet snake, but our rental agreement wouldn’t allow it – not to mention we wouldn’t be able to take a snake back to New Zealand with us! It was a dream come true for her to hold the snakes. She did so well holding the weight of two rather large snakes – combined weight of 60 pounds!

Miss 10 and 2 snakes!

On the drive back, as the sun began to sink low in the sky over the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at a huge sand dune, over looking a beautiful bay.

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

Of course sand and children are always a fun mix – especially when sand is banked up very high for climbing up and running (or rolling) down.

Sand dune fun California

Next time we pass we’ll have to make sure we have a boogie board in the back, or a piece of cardboard… it reminded me of an adventure Dan and I enjoyed on Fraser Island years ago – boogie boarding down a dune into a lake!

Sand dune fun

We got home just after sunset and whilst unpacking the car (looked more like we’d been away for a week!), the man of the house got in the pool with the children. Just when I thought we were done for the day, and steering towards bedtime, a Suzy Cato DVD inspired an experiment with purple cabbage on the different between acid and alkaline (fact sheet, thanks to Suzy, here). Being in a natural learning way, we embraced the moment and did a science experiment before bedtime (as you do!).

We all finally got to sleep – close to 11pm!