On Balance Bikes and Letting Go

Hannah started begging for a bicycle when she was two years old. We even dragged her out of REI at one point as she was screaming, “I want a bike! I want a bike!” Not long after, we got her a Strider balance bike, and she was absolutely delighted.

little bike

Balance bikes do not have pedals, and the idea is that very young children can propel themselves with their feet and then gradually develop balance as they grow in confidence. Then they could skip training wheels later and go straight to a regular bicycle. We had many great years with Hannah on the balance bike, lots of miles on trails with friends, but she never seemed to balance much.

After three years with the Strider, she had completely outgrown it, so we got her a small bike with training wheels. She rode this for a couple months then was begging for us to take her training wheels off. We didn’t as we were in no big hurry to tackle the next step.

One day, we were playing outside, and she got on a neighbor boy’s bike. A regular bike, no training wheels. As she hopped on, I was yelling, “Get off that bike! What do you think you’re doing?! Hannah, YOU CAN’T… Oh, I guess you can… Huh… Yay, Hannah! Watch out for cars!”

big bike

She didn’t fall off, she didn’t get scared, she just rode along on two wheels. I was stunned.

Looking back, I don’t know why this was so surprising. We’d given her the balance bike and taught her how to pedal. She had the skills she needed.

I’m sure this will happen again in parenting, and I don’t want to be so surprised next time. If we equip our children with the skills for a milestone, why are we stunned when they move forward with confidence to tackle it?

If we’re doing our jobs, this should happen a lot. Our kids should be equipped with responsibility, independence, creativity, compassion, self-control, and a heart for justice. These skills will enable them to take on a lot in the world, and we need to let them. Often, parents seem to either lack the vision for training their children or lack the willingness to let them practice their skills independently. So I’m moving forward with more intentionality and a keener eye for signs of readiness.

Take off the training wheels! Let them develop balance! And then cheer for the successes and support them through falls, it’s all part of letting go.

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What’s For Dinner? A Week at Our Table

Lots of bloggers post their upcoming week’s menu plans, but I’m showing you what we already ate. A hypothetical meal plan is certainly more impressive; I’m realizing this as I’m trying to make pictures look as good as they tasted and thinking there should definitely be more fruits and vegetables. But here goes…

Sunday

Eggs and biscuits

I don’t have a picture since I didn’t decide to do this until Monday, but I’ll bet you know what scrambled eggs and biscuits look like. Brett loves breakfast for dinner and goes a little nuts for my biscuits, good thing they’re cheap and easy to whip up!

Drop biscuits

  • 2 c. flour (I do a blend of all-purpose and white whole wheat)
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. melted butter (1 stick)

Mix all ingredients until just moistened. Drop in large rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheet (makes around 12). Bake at 450 for 9-10 minutes. 

Monday

Tacos, veggie rice, and cucumbers

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The rice was made up on the spot. I grated a bunch of carrots and zucchini and a little onion and put them in chicken stock to cook with the rice. When it was all cooked, I stirred in a little bit of cheese. Mmmmm, so good. Tasted kind of like Rice-A-Roni except better.

Tuesday

 

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad

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This is a copycat of a Panera salad which Brett always orders. Only six ingredients in my version:

Apple Pecan Salad

  • Lettuce
  • Apples
  • Grilled chicken
  • Green onions
  • Toasted pecans
  • Champagne vinaigrette (Trader Joe’s)

Wednesday

Corn chowder and grilled shishito peppers

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This was also something I made up – a super budget-friendly meal, and the girls liked it (they’re hit and miss with soup). I think the soup totals around $3.50, and the peppers were free from my mom’s garden.

Easy Summer Corn Soup

  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 russet potatoes, cubed
  • 3 ears of corn, grilled and kernels cut off
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put a couple Tbs of olive oil in the bottom of a pot. Add onion and potatoes, and cook until onion is transparent, a couple minutes. Then add stock and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add corn, cheese, sour cream, and salt and pepper and stir until cheese is melted and corn is heated through. Garnish with extra sour cream and cheese if desired.

Thursday

Papa John’s pizza

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No cooking for momma tonight! Hannah’s school was doing a fundraiser night with Papa John’s, so we enjoyed some carry out pizza. Pepperoni and black olives for the girls, and buffalo chicken for Brett and me.

Friday

Cheese enchiladas, refried beans, and kale chips

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Yep, those kale chips are a tad crispy. Just keepin’ it real, not the prettiest picture. Brett loves it when I make slow cooker refried beans. The enchiladas are from this cookbook using homemade sauce (which ended up being a tad spicy for the girls, so they wouldn’t eat it).

Saturday

Pork chops, cracker salad, corn, and banana mini muffins

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Blogger Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents posted cracker salad on Instagram, and I thought it sounded interesting! I used what I had on hand, just cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, crackers and mayo. Winner! Banana mini muffins were from this cookbook which is by the same author (Jessica at Good Cheap Eats) who did the enchilada recipe. When it comes to food blogs, I don’t follow very many because I’ve found a couple good ones that fit my style of cooking – real food recipes that don’t involve a million ingredients or extensive prep time – and I’ve also purchased cookbooks from them because I know they’re recipes I’ll actually use and enjoy.

So that was our week of dinners! They were tasty and budget-friendly and (mostly) kid-approved.

First Days of School

School starts early in Kansas! Mid-August and we’re into our new fall routine. Lots of adjustments this year as Hannah started kindergarten, and Violet started a “parents’ day out” program on her own. Kindergarten is every morning, and PDO is one day a week. I took pictures and did some brief interviews to commemorate the start of the school year.

Hannah, class of 2028

  • favorite book: The Octonauts
  • this year I want to learn: how bees get nectar from flowers
  • when I grow up, I want to be: a medic

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Violet, class of 2031

  • favorite book: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
  • this year I want to learn: about Jesus
  • when I grow up, I want to be: a pirate

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We walk Hannah back and forth to school, only about ten minutes away, and the stroller ride can be quite relaxing for the younger two.

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Jim Gaffigan in the Flesh, the Pale, Pale Flesh

Five months ago, we used some of our “Christmas money” and bought tickets to see Jim Gaffigan. He’s our favorite comedian, and if you’re not familiar with him, just look him up on YouTube. I logged on soon after the ticket sales went live, and I was able to get eleventh-row seats. (If he’s not in your area or you don’t want to splurge on tickets, this is for you)

Then the wait. I honestly almost forgot about the whole thing until July as I glanced ahead in the calendar to August. Jim Gaffigan! The excitement came again. In such an instant gratification-driven culture, the waves of anticipation have been fun. 

Some friends also got tickets, so we met for dinner – Thai chicken pizza at CPK, yummmm – then carpooled to the amphitheater. And thanks to my very pregnant friend, we were able to be dropped off right by the entrance. 

  
No pictures of the actual show because very pale guys don’t photograph well under stage lights. But we laughed until we had tears (didn’t think of bringing Kleenex to a comedy show) and told each other “Merry Christmas!” 

Jim Gaffigan live. Now crossed off the bucket list. 

Fresh Ideas for Fresh Humans

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In the last couple of years, I’ve been asked several times for ideas of baby gifts for others. Specifically for things that are useful but may not be thought of by the typical first-time mom.

I don’t have to think too hard, because it really wasn’t that long since I was a new mom, and there are definitely a few items that stand out. I didn’t know about them or think of them when Hannah was born, but I consider them necessities now. And all under $30!

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Muslin blankets

These are super handy! A few uses: covering a car seat or stroller to block sun, swaddler, nursing cover, lightweight summer blanket, and later, for a toddler, a cape! ;) These particular ones are from a higher-end brand that has a Target line. Price range: $23-35 for four

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Outdoor swing

We received one of these as a gift when Hannah was a baby, and it has gotten many hours of use over the years with many more to come. This is a great gift as it is probably not on the registry but would be used a lot. Easy outdoor fun! Price range: $22-30 (though I recommend the Fisher Price brand specifically as some other brands have difficult buckles)

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Small high chair

We started out with a “real” high chair but decided it was too big and too hard to clean. We got one of these after seeing a friend with them, and we were hooked. They are small and lightweight, and they hook onto a regular chair so they are easy to move on and off for guests as well as use for travel. We have two, one for the dining table and one in the car for travel. Price: $25

Some of my other favorite baby items (with higher price tags):

Ergo baby carrier – another necessity for me. Pricy but well-made and easy for dads to use, too! I’ve used it for shopping, hiking and to be hands-free while doing housework. Price: $120

Portable swing (similar to this) – great for the first few months, especially if you’ll be traveling. Doesn’t take up much space and is much cheaper than the big fancy swings. Price: $50

Diaper Dekor Plus – the best diaper pail ever. It’s not glamorous as a baby shower gift, but this thing is awesome. Easy to use, easy to change, keeps the smell in. Price: $50

We’ve had the above items for all three girls, and they are well-made and well-used. Great for new and not-so-new moms!