I wasn’t planning to write a stand-alone post about June’s big-kid bike, but I had a deluge of questions after sharing a little clip of her riding it (the “whoop”!). It seems inquiring minds want to know, so let’s dive in!
How we prepared for her big kid bike:
We gave June a balance bike for her third birthday. While we’ve generally been happy with it, I think we will choose a different model for Shep, as the seat continually comes loose and twists.
She was a bit short for the bike when it first arrived, and sometimes resisted riding it after the initial rush of excitement wore off. We didn’t push it on her (she often preferred to ride her scooter), but we continually suggested it, and she took us up on it more and more until she was riding comfortably by the summer (age 3.5).
By the time this summer rolled around, she had more than got the hang of the balance bike – in fact, she was flying down hills so fast (without brakes!) that it no longer felt safe. While we considered waiting for Christmas or her birthday to graduate her to a new bike, we didn’t really want to wait until the thick of winter – so we went for it early.
How we chose a big-kid bike:
For these two Enneagram 5s, a big purchase meant diving into some good old internet research. We were guided at the start by a parent friend who had previously worked in a bike shop – he recommended a model with hand brakes instead of coasting brakes. Especially for kids who first ride on balance bikes, coasting brakes (where you pedal backwards to stop) can throw them off kilter since they’re used to a back-and-forth motion propelling them forward.
Priority bikes are not inexpensive, but so far we are REALLY happy with our choice. Here are a few of the things we love about it:
— It seems to be VERY good quality. At this price point, we expect to pass it down to siblings and/or cousins, and so we want it to last. For the price, it’s one of the lighter bikes on the market, it’s easily adjustable, and its chain is grease free. It was also easy for John to assemble. (The price is also less than many of the comparable bikes we considered.) — I love the classic design. It leans neither feminine nor masculine to me (whereas some of the other bikes we looked at seemed much more gendered either in design or color options); this is important, since we already know the next recipient is a boy :) We chose the red color, and it is so fun and vibrant in person! — It has hand brakes. — It has a kickstand – surprisingly hard to find! June has not quite mastered engaging it on her own yet, but we parents are glad to have at least one bike that stands up on its own in the garage (our bikes do not have kickstands, and neither does the balance bike). — 16″ bikes are generally recommended for kids age 4-7, and the experts recommend getting an accurately-sized bike instead of trying to cheat up so you have to replace it less often. The measurements of the 16″ matched up for June; we figure she should get about two years of riding in before passing it on to Shep at age 4 and graduating to a 20″ bike.
How we transitioned from a balance bike to a big-kid bike:
Many of you asked how the transition was from the balance bike to the 16″ bike. While I don’t have any other experience to compare it to, I would say it was pretty seamless. We did not use training wheels (that is the promise of the balance bike!), though you can buy an add-on pack through Priority.
The video you saw on Instagram was taken on her fourth outing. For the first try, we walked to a big parking lot in our neighborhood with plenty of space and fewer curious eyes :) The first day looked like a lot of John holding the bike while she peddled – and also a few tears, because the tread on the pedals scratched her leg a few times (we wore leggings for subsequent outings, which helped!).
On the second outing, she attempted starting from a standstill, and by the third, she could start from a stop independently. A month in, she is still learning to apply the brake to slow down (as opposed to a full stop), to rest her legs while going down a hill instead of continuing to pedal, and to get enough speed to go uphill (we haven’t introduced coming out of the saddle yet). She is loving it and chooses her bike over her scooter on almost every outing now! We are loving it, too, though we’ve had to begrudgingly lace up our running shoes to keep up with her – ha!
As she gains proficiency, speed, and stamina, next on the horizon is trying out a greenway ride with John and I on our bikes, Shep in the trailer, and June on her bike (!). Since she’s so far had plenty of intermittent rest waiting for Shep or her parents to catch up to her, I’m curious to see how far we’ll be able to go with everyone on wheels before she gets tired… once we find a nice quiet stretch of greenway, we’ll try a little experiment!
One final note: if you’re considering a bike as a Christmas gift, I’d pull the trigger sooner rather than later – bikes seem to be an in-demand pandemic item, with inventory going in and out of stock.
Whew – that’s a lot of info about a little bike! Happy to answer any more questions you might have about the big-kid bike, the balance bike, or our experience with either!
Today is the fifth anniversary of Articles Club! Five years ago this month, Stephanie and I posted an invitation on our respective blogs: would anyone be interested in reading articles together and discussing them once a month? It would be like a book club, but with articles! That first night, we sat around my living room with snacks and drinks in hand, 10 or so strangers who just happened to have a little blog in common. I didn’t know anyone in the circle except for Stephanie… which is a pretty crazy situation for an introvert to find herself in.
Five years later, the faces around the circle are beloved friends. Some of them are the very same, and some we have been so lucky to welcome in for a season or for good since then.
Articles Club this year, like most things this year, has looked a little different. We canceled our March gathering as the lockdown descended, then met via Zoom for several months. In August and September, we were overjoyed to gather again – outside, at Dix Park, with the most gorgeous sunset view of the city skyline and individual dinners on our laps. For our meeting this month, we’ll walk around the side of Stephanie’s home and spread out on her back deck, and we’ll toast to five years with cupcakes.
Though we have read a few sets of articles this year, many of our gatherings have simply been social – a chance to check in on each other and share the hard and the good of the past month. After all, the world has given us much to discuss even without assigned reading, and it has been a special gift to sift through all that 2020 has thrown at us with a group of people who care deeply about each other, who believe there is gray in the world, and who are capable of approaching differing opinions with good will and thoughtfulness – and even a little humor when needed.
Earlier this year, I came to the realization that these people are my friends. That might sound like a strange thing to realize, after five years – of course these are my friends! – but they haven’t come with all the trappings I typically associate with friendship: we don’t tend to gather much outside of our monthly meeting. I haven’t met many of their significant others or children. I don’t have all of their numbers in my phone.
And yet – I have sat around a table for hours in conversation with them. I have tried, and adopted, their favorite recipes. I have learned about their childhoods and their work lives, their meet cutes and political opinions and financial situations and beauty routines and Enneagram types, their thoughts on parenting and generosity and home design. We have laughed and cried and laughed until we cried. We have brought each other meals for new babies and exchanged books and beauty products. Our gatherings are always one of my favorite evenings every month.
So yes, these are my friends. Stephanie, Kelly, Ginna, Pressley, Chelsey, Stacy, Adelyn, Bethany, Libby, Julia, Mackenzie, Robyn, and everyone else who has joined us over the years – thank you! What a gift you have been to me.
While I don’t have my usual list of reads from the past year to share with you today – I do have this: my encouragement to step outside of your comfort zone and reach out a hand in friendship. Even if it seems scary, even if it seems risky, even if it seems complicated or likely to fail – a hand extended in love is always worth it. It might sound cliche, but it’s true.
Friends, I’d love to hear about a time when you took a risk on a new friendship, if you’d like to share! Almost all of my adult friendships have required a risk on my part, so I love hearing about other’s happy endings :)
Friends, do you have an Instant Pot in your kitchen? My parents-in-law kindly gifted us one last Christmas… and it took me until this summer to open the box. It just seemed intimidating – like another thing to learn that I didn’t really seem to be missing in my life. Plus, I didn’t know any Instant Pot recipes (and didn’t really need to add anything more to the 100+ “recipes to try” on my Pinterest board).
It might have taken going into lockdown, but I eventually did open the box. Even then, my and the Instant Pot’s relationship was a slow burn. There’s a learning curve to the mechanics, and it was frustrating to me when a recipe with a 5-minute cooking time actually took 20 minutes due to the pressurizing and venting.
A few months in, I’ve mastered the mechanics and have a small collection of Instant Pot recipes that we love. I’ve still got a lot to learn – I’m not really comfortable translating a slow cooker recipe to the IP freehand, preferring to lean on IP-specific recipes – and when I use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker, I miss the way the delicious smell of whatever’s cooking wafts throughout the house.
It seems like it’s here to stay, though, so let’s talk Instant Pot recipes! These are a few I’d recommend – and I’d love to hear yours!
With June well into her four-year-old year, I figured it was high time for an update on some of her favorites! (We last checked in right after her third birthday!) As you can see, 4 has been an absolute delight. She is funny, quick to laugh, so loving, and an excellent conversationalist. She especially adores her mama, her daddy, and her cousins, and, as I’m detailing below, a few other things!
— This camera was one of her fourth birthday presents, and it has been a constant companion on hikes ever since. We’ve never actually uploaded the photos to the computer – the real joy is in taking them, it seems – but you can, if you’d like. — Little plastic animals like these and these (or a slightly bigger size like this, this, or this) are MVPs around our house. The kids play with them in the bath, in the sand table, in the garden beds, on trips, on hikes… they’re small enough that they’re easy to tote along or share with a friend and are great for facilitating imaginative play everywhere and anywhere. — Current TV favorites include The Octonauts (Netflix), If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Amazon Prime), and Clifford (Amazon Prime). Y’all know the Octonauts love goes deep around here (we love it, too – so many fun facts!) – if it’s the same at your house, I highly recommend this coloring book. June has painstakingly colored every page (sob). — Continuing with the Octonauts theme, girl loves splashing in under-the-sea sensory bins and completing this National Geographic Ocean Animals sticker book. (She calls it National Sea-ographic :)) — Other activity favorites: these paint-by-sticker books (June can complete them without assistance), these number and alphabet activity pads, and this unicorn and mermaid sticker book (it’s really good – there’s also this boy version!). To keep those colored pencils sharp, we invested in this pencil sharpener and it is a HIT. — In addition to Magna-Tiles (we also have Picasso Tiles – especially love the set with cars), the number one favorite toy in our house is this ice cream set. June and Shep both play with it daily with great enthusiasm, and have for more than a year. FIVE STARS! — We use this shampoo on her hair these days and this spray-on conditioner to help with the tangles. This brush is still the best! And a big bow or smaller bows. — These sweet princess dresses are perfect for everyday dress-up (or for a Disney trip, when those are a thing again!). A great price and adorable styles. June pairs them with her “party shoes” (also a great price – we’ve bought them in multiple sizes). — We’ve had a Jesus Storybook Bible since before June was born, but this feels like the first year she’s really started to understand it. It’s the most beautiful retelling – a pleasure for all of us to read :)
Whew! Hopefully this gives you a few new ideas for your favorite four-year-old (or gift ideas for the holidays! :)). If you’re looking for most of my past kiddo picks in one easy place, I’ve organized them more neatly here!