Embrace What You Love

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”

-Roald Dahl

I came across this quote and wanted to share it with you. However, it’s interpreted, maybe it will make you step back and reflect a little. It did for me. It’s funny how I come across little reminders like this. 

I welcome these breaks. Don’t you?

How we Taught our Kids to Ride Without Training Wheels at age 3

“You’re doing it! Look at you go!” I shout at our three-year-old son as he pedals his wobbly bike without training wheels down the street.

Three? You may ask yourself. Yes, that’s right. It can be accomplished. Say goodbye to the training wheels, and self-doubt that your child will never learn how to ride a bike on their own. Sayonara to the oversized bike trailers and “hello” independence. Well, let’s not get too carried away, but that’s how it felt when my husband and I had our two children conquer this life skill by the age of three.

Want to know our secret? It’s called a balance bike. It was no secret to the many families that had already relied on this genius two-wheeled pedal-less bike. But when we discovered it? Our confused thoughts on how to teach this task were gloriously put to rest. It’s a secret no more. We wondered why this didn’t come with the instructional manual on “How to Raise Kids.” That’s right, we never received one when the stork dropped off our two bundles of joy at our front door-step. Isn’t that how it works? Let’s move on.

We first heard about this awesome alternative after a fellow dad kindly and willingly shared his brilliant secret with us. We did a little more research, and within no time, a lime green balance bike showed up on our doorstep. Contrary to the prior statement, it was not flown in by bird, just the friendly neighborhood delivery man.

How does it work?

Unlike ordinary bikes, it has no pedals, larger tires, and lower seating for a toddler to rest their feet on the ground. The child uses their legs and feet to push off the ground to gain speed. After some practice getting on the bike and scooting around, the child will gain confidence and naturally begin to lift their feet for longer periods of time. Mostly, they start to coast around. It’s all about balance.

“Bikes with training wheels tilt to the one side, creating a false sense of balance. In order to ride without the training wheels, a child must “unlearn” how to ride unbalanced and learn how to ride balanced,” according to an article on Two Wheeling Tots.

That sounds like a lot of extra work when some of the steps can be cut out. Basically, with the balance bike, the child will feel themselves tipping to one side and will learn to keep their body upright and support themselves.

When do they start using the balance bike?

Two Wheeling Tots says that kids can start as young as 18 months old, all the way up to 5-years-old. They use the bike for about two years before moving onto a traditional bike without training wheels.

How we did it

To get our daughter excited about the process, we let her pick out which color of bike she would like, along with a fitted helmet. Once the balance bike arrived,  I was shocked at how lightweight it felt. It was a plain bike frame with two wheels. No chains, no other contraptions for the child to get caught on, just pure simplicity.

We started on the driveway first teaching our 20-month old to tilt the bike to the side and lift her leg over the seat. While grasping the handlebars, she practiced sitting and focused on balancing herself. After the novelty of being able to just sit on her very first bike wore away, our daughter gained more confidence and began to push herself around. It went from a single push, to push, push, glide.

In no time, she was testing out the steering, slightly turning, then making larger circles. My husband and I were amazed at how natural the process was. Within a few months, we noticed she would lift her feet to coast along. By the age of three, we felt she was ready to try a bike with pedals.

Unsure of how the transition would look, we purchased a little bike from the second-hand store. We put our daughter on the traditional bike, held the back of the seat, showed her how to keep her feet on the pedals and walked with her as she rode. Eventually, we let go. She fell off but caught herself. We tried again, and within three attempts, she was riding down the sidewalk. It was incredible!

My son didn’t catch on quite as quickly. We thought he was ready, when he was not, so we gave the traditional bike a rest for a bit. He practiced balancing a little longer until he said he was prepared to try again. Within no time, he was pedaling on his own. He just wasn’t ready when we thought he was. It was up to him. That is a key factor in the whole system. The child knows when they are ready to learn and each child is different.

Would we do it again?

Yes! We feel it took away a lot of the guessing that comes along with trying to figure out how to teach this task.

We have since passed the balance bike on to our niece who’s loving this new experience and boost in confidence. If you’re interested, I encourage you to check out the balance bike and if you feel it’s a good fit for your child, give it a test ride.

Book Suggestions For Preschool Boys

I find that picking out books for girls is way easier than for boys. Sure there are books on trucks and fire engines, but my son’s kind of over that. Here’s a list of some of his favorites that we have discovered if you’re searching out some new reads for three to five-year-old boys (or girls, too!).

Peteriffic by Victoria Kann

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The Pinkalicous series has been popular in our household and my son thinks Peter, Pinkalicious’ snarky, little brother is entertaining. We were so happy to see that author Victoria Kann created a spin-off based on the adventurous little boy.

Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues by James and Kimberley Dean

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This groovy cat is a fan favorite among kids, but the bedtime blues is my son’s go to nightly bedtime story. He calls it the Rat-a-Tat-Tat book. You’ll see why when you pick up this rad read.

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

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Squeals and woots from the kid’s book aisle were heard when we spotted this sequel to the original hilarious Dragons Love Tacos. We still have a soft spot for the first one, but this sequel won’t disappoint! Especially the silly diaper part. Why do kids think that word is so funny anyway? It’s like the key word to endless giggles. Just throw “diaper” into any sentence and kids lose it. “Dragons love diapers?” Yep, quoted by our three-year-old morning, noon and night, especially at the dinner table. It’s a must read.

Piggie and Elephant books by Mo Willems

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If you like the Pigeon books by Mo Willems, you’re going to love the Piggie and Elephant series. I have yet to meet a kid, any age, that doesn’t love Mo Willems. As an extra bonus, from a primary teacher’s perspective, this a fabulous series for kindergarteners learning to read. It’s loaded with sight words and it’s great fluency practice!

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

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This is a silly book about nocturnal animals, not knowing they’re nocturnal, and being afraid of what comes out at night. It’s a simple read, but it won’t disappoint! My kids love it so much that they have memorized it and read it to me now.

Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

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For the little explorer at heart. We love the illustrations and bright colors. Boy and bear are busy on their own adventure when they run into each other in the forest. Scared at first, but they soon realize it’s better to have a buddy exploring with you. It’s a wild read!

What’s your little guy’s favorite book?

 

 

 

 

Dear Summer, Please Don’t End Yet

The time of year when all the school supply shopping begins and parents start marking their calendars for the first day of school is finally upon us. As a teacher, usually, I’d take all the fun, innovative ideas that I discovered on Pinterest and start masterminding my big plans for the upcoming school year. To my surprise, I’ve done none of it. Nada. Zilch.

I’m not going to lie; there were times during the summer when I thought I’d never make it to the end. The fighting and arguing among the kids was wearing away at whatever patience I had left. But now as we are getting closer to the first day of school, I’d like to put the brakes on this fast-paced roller coaster we call life.

The “Are you ready to go back to work yet?” comments from friends and family have started rolling in. But the answer is surprisingly no. I’ve enjoyed the late night bike rides to the ice cream shop or staying outside longer to watch the kids catch fireflies. I’m not ready for it to end.

Being able to wake up a little later without the hassle of getting the kids up, fed, dressed, and rushed out the door in a time crunch is a relief. My youngest is often still in his pajamas when his dad comes home after work at 6 pm. I’d say that pretty much sums up the laid back, no fuss time we’re having. I prefer not to conjure up a plan on how I’m going wrestle him out of his early morning garb. Instead, I join in on the fun. Heck, pajama day could be every day if he wants. It’s summer, remember?

I’ll miss the lazy mornings drinking coffee and eating breakfast together. Not that we can’t do this when the school year starts, it’s just our time will be short. You want bacon, a yogurt parfait, or eggs sunnyside up today? No problem. There’s no race against time or a schedule that we have to follow. The only thing on my mind is deciding what fresh fruit I’ll pile on top of my steaming hot bowl of oatmeal.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to sit and think about what day it was or glance down at my phone to check the date. Right now, time is on our side.

Oh, it’s Thursday? Let’s take a stroll into town and check out the local farmers’ market. Nothing beats the handpicked, and colorful produce displayed beautifully and ready to be devoured. Let’s not forget to stop by the fruit stand and say “hello” to the vendors we befriended over the summer. On our way out, we’ll pick up our usual homemade muffins sold by the young Amish family we’ve come to know and look forward to seeing.

When the sun is shining brightly, we find ourselves contemplating if we should head to the pool or stay home and play in the sprinkler? Maybe neither. Instead, we might take our bikes and go for a ride to the park. I’ll bring my book, while the kids run around until their heart’s content.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to love cooking healthy, nutritious meals for my family. This extra time has given me a newfound desire to discover and try various recipes I’ve scrounged the internet for. I’ve dusted off the cookbooks that were patiently waiting, pages unturned. Now they’re decorated with oil spots or remnants from the process of cooking a delicious meal.

This summer marked the first year that the kids were old enough to start taking more trips and trying new adventures. We went camping, hiking, biking, swimming, roasted marshmallows and enjoyed each other’s company while sitting around the endless campfires. We road tripped to multiple states and visited family.

This summer we’ve made lots of memories, and there’s still some time left. So, please summer, don’t end yet.