Learning To Bike Ride

bike-ridingBefore JSL’s birthday, we took him to a couple of stores looking for a new bike.  His old one, a hand-me-down from NHL, was getting small for him and B’s parents wanted to buy him a new one.

After looking for a few bikes, we came to the conclusion that we want JSL to learn to ride without training wheels before buying him a new bike.  This way, his current bike will get any dings and dents from learning-to-ride falls and the new bike will stay looking nice for as long as possible.

So, with the sun shining and the weather feeling nice and warm, I removed the training wheels from JSL’s bike and we went out to the sidewalk.  JSL nervously climbed atop his bike and I held him steady as he pedaled forward.  Soon, I was letting go more and more.  I could tell that he was on the brink of figuring out how to balance – even though he had just started.

It seemed as though he needed something to push him a bit (metaphorically speaking) and decided on a method of giving JSL some incentive.  Every so often, when I could tell that he was balancing well, I would let go of him and count silently.  Then, after he put his feet down to stop or I stepped in to prevent a fall, I would tell him how many seconds he stayed up.  JSL went from two second rides to four and then five.  Finally, he got an eleven second ride and went running up the block screaming it over and over to B.  The next day, he topped that and got to fourteen.  He seemed determined and well on his way to riding without training wheels.

Then, this weekend, we tried again.  This time, he was a lot less sure of himself.  I didn’t bother telling him how many seconds he stayed up because telling him "two seconds" would make him less confident – not more.

I did notice a pattern, though.  JSL’s balance was pretty good with me having to provide minimal guidance until I let go.  Then, suddenly, he would either begin veering towards the grass (to soften his fall but instead causing him to lose his balance) or would overcorrect and swerve his front wheel left and right until he lost his balance.  If he only had enough confidence in himself, he would likely just take off down the street.  Instead, fear is holding him back.

We’re now on the lookout for any way to help JSL learn to ride his bike.  B’s brother has been using a bike trainer handle (like this one) with his child and this might help JSL also.  Any suggestions are welcome, though.

What did you do to help your child learn to ride a bike?

Gold Medal For Lost Teeth At The Sled Olympics

The Winter Olympics might be in full swing in Sochi, but back here we are having some winter events of our own.  There’s the meter deep snow drift shovel, the icy driveway skate, and the ever popular car figure skating (aka maneuvering your car out of a snowed in driveway into a snow-narrowed street without hitting the snow banks or parked cars).

To find some actual fun in the snow, we went to a local park that has a giant hill.  During the spring and summer, the boys love running up and down this hill.  I figured this would be the perfect place to sled down.  JSL immediately began to get fearful.  He’s afraid of heights (or so he claims) and this was definitely high up.  NHL took the first sled ride and loved it – shouting with joy the whole way down.  JSL decided to brave a trip and shouted as well, but more out of fear than enjoyment.


Of course, I had to have my go and – always thinking social media – filmed a first-person view going down.

Hard sled + bounces + my not-so-young anymore body = OUCH!  I definitely envied another family that was there with inflatable sledding devices.  I could have used some of that cushioning power.

We kept at it for awhile and I even came up with a solution for JSL.  I positioned the sled halfway up the hill and stood in front of it to keep it in place as he got on.  When he was ready, I stepped aside and he went down.  This gave him enough height to make for a fun ride, but not so much to trigger fear.  Of course, this meant less opportunity for me to take photos of JSL in any pose except for his apparently traditional post-sled snow angel.


NHL, for his part, tended to gravitate to the more dangerous sections.  Some people had fashioned sled jumps and NHL wanted to try them out.  I let him and he had a blast.


One jump he caught just right and wound up with some serious air.  I was at the top of the hill at the time so when it was his turn next, I had him wait until I got into position so I could snap this photo.


Unfortunately, right after I took the photo, NHL got up from where he landed and yelled that he had hurt his nose and glasses.  I looked him over and he was fine – if a bit snow covered, but then he realized something else was wrong.

He had lost a tooth!

Yes, it was a wiggly tooth that was due to come out.  (Insert sigh of relief from me here.)  However, it wasn’t with him.  It was somewhere near where he landed.  Finding a small white tooth on a patch of white snow was going to be nearly impossible so I let NHL know that we’d look but we probably wouldn’t find it.  Two minutes in, I was about to call off the search when NHL proclaimed that he found it.  Sure enough, he plucked something small off of the ground and had his tooth back.


I took it and firmly held onto it until we got home.  The tooth fairy visited him that night and gave him his own gold medals… I mean coins.


Apple Picking And Animal Petting Adventure

This past weekend was a perfect fall day.  It was sunny, but not too hot.  A breeze was blowing but it wasn’t too cold.  Ideal weather for apple picking.  We went to a nearby farm – Indian Ladder Farms, got our bags, and began to pick.


There were so many big apples that, before long, our bags were filled beyond capacity.  A couple of apples rolled out as we tried to pick them up.  The boys scooped these up and helpfully carried them to the car.  Later that day, I’d weigh the apples to determine that we had picked 44.5 pounds of apples!

We weren’t done yet, though.  After driving across the road, we went to the farm itself.  Indian Ladder Farms is at the foot of the Helderbergs.  It’s beautiful and there was a lot to look at there.  Specifically, the boys enjoyed seeing, petting, and feeding all of the animals.


After washing our hands, we stopped by their shop where we bought apple cider, honey, and apple cider donuts – all made at Indian Ladder Farms!


Though we were only there around two hours, we got a lot packed in.  We left (munching on the delicious donuts in the car) vowing to come back some time soon.  We might skip the apple picking, though, until we can work through all 44.5 pounds of apples.  (If you know of any good apple recipes, please post them in the comments!)

And thus ended our adventure.


(Yes, I am easily amused!)

The Fourth Goes Boom!

On the Fourth of July, we had a very lovely time at a family’s house near Saratoga Lake.  The exciting events, however, happened not on the Fourth, but on the Sixth.  That’s when more family was present and we got to watch fireworks.  Yes, the "more family" also equaled "more chaos" from time to time and the fireworks meant that the boys were up WAY too late.  (They fell asleep in the car at around 10pm, though NHL had passed out much earlier and missed the entire fireworks show.)  Still, it all added up to a very fun day.

As we prepared for the fireworks, Aunt S broke out a series of glow sticks, hats, glasses and more that she had purchased at the Christmas Tree Shop.  Apparently, they stock many of these things for only a dollar each.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for these in the future.


We sat and waited on the porch and eventually it was time for the show.  The blasts came up into the sky and exploded with color.  Meanwhile, mosquitos defied the lit citronella candles and feasted on what they obviously saw as an all-you-can-eat human buffet.


I observed the fireworks the way I observe much of life, through the camera’s lens.  (I could launch into a detailed psycho-analytical self-study here about how I deal with Asperger’s and social situations by seeking the balance of social isolation and social participation one gets while taking photos nonstop, but that would be off topic.)  During the photos, someone asked me why I was taking so many.  I answered that I had to.  For every twenty that I took, only one was likely to be usable.  When asked for what, I replied "You never know when you might need fireworks photos for a blog post!"

Therefore, to keep myself from being a liar, here’s a selection of fireworks photos.  Feel free to add booming noises as you see the photos and/or say "Oooooh!  Aaaah!"  (Bonus points if you Vine or Instagram Video yourself doing this.)

IMGP7349 IMGP7350 IMGP7391 IMGP7420 IMGP7427 IMGP7439 IMGP7514 IMGP7515 IMGP7522 IMGP7525

Boat Beach Day

We celebrated the Fourth of July by going to our family’s house near Saratoga Lake.  During the visit, we first took a ride on the boat:


After the boat ride, we were deciding whether to go to the pool or the beach.  B prefers pools over the beach, but I generally like the beach more.  The pool was too busy so the beach won out.  The boys and I had a great time splashing around in the huge waves and playing in the sand.


How did you spend your Fourth of July?

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