Emma Rides Her Bike For The First Time!

When the highlight reel of my life is played, this Sunday will certainly be among the clips shown as it marks one of the happiest and proudest days of my life.

As a father, there is no greater joy then helping your child learn a new skill or accomplish a great feat. For me, one of those milestones was reached when Emma rode a 2-wheeled bike for the first time unassisted.

As you may remember, when Emma turned four she received a bike for her birthday.

Well, now she’s five (going on six) and she finally mastered the thing this Sunday. I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t an emotional moment as I watched her make the mental and physical connection required to maintain proper balance.

Seated two-wheeled balance is a difficult concept to convey. You have to get your center of gravity aligned just right and then dynamically shift your weight in response to road conditions and speed without over-correcting. All this has to be done quickly and efficiently in a way that is virtually impossible to describe. You just have to get a feel for it through trial and error.

Our Bike Riding Journey

Over the last couple years Elena and I would periodically take Emma to the park to practice riding her bike. One of the first things we did was adjust the training wheels so that one was an inch higher then the other. By doing this we hoped it would create enough instability that it would force her to find her sweet spot as she safely oscillated between the two training wheels.

What it did, however, was teach her some really bad riding habits as she would lean to one side so she could ride on two wheels (the main one and one training wheel).

Taking the training wheels off resulted in her going from total stability to no stability at all, making it extremely difficult for her to learn the subtle nuances of two-wheeled balance.

Realizing that wasn’t going to work I did some research online and found this thing called the Gyrowheel. Essentially it’s a gyroscope inside a wheel. If you’re a geek like me you know one of the neat properties of gyroscopes is that they resist perpendicular forces applied to their axis by applying an equal counter force on the opposing axis making them insanely stable. In laymen’s terms, they resist being tipped over.

By applying one of these wheels to the bike it would give Emma a little extra stability giving her time to learn the mechanics of keeping a bike upright. Keep in mind that this won’t keep a bike up on its own. In fact, the first time we tried it (back on August 18 of this year) Emma still couldn’t keep the bike up and I worried that it did not provide a powerful enough stabilizing force.

Secret To Our Success

On our second attempt, we both made some changes.

Instead of holding her under her arms I held her at the waist. This was a pivotal adjustment because it allowed me to physically show her where her waist needed to be at all times. Previously, when I held her under her arms, she would let her hips shift so much to the left or right it was like teaching Bernie Lowmax how to ride a bike.

I also explained to her how this was a skill she would have to learn by constantly adjusting her weight and manipulating the handlebars. She couldn’t just sit there and expect the bike to stay up. “In fact”, I told her, “the bike’s goal was to throw her over the side. It doesn’t want to be upright”.

By telling her this I had hoped to tap into her inner stubbornness which hates to be told what to do or controlled in any way. As a parent, you know what works for your kid, and in my case, that was just what the doctor ordered as she talked to the bike the whole way telling it, “no you don’t!”, “I’m in control here!”.

The Future

The ultimate goal is to have Emma ride her bike with absolutely no assistance. The Gyrowheel is great for helping kids get a feel for what independent bike riding should feel like but it too has to come off before you can say you’ve absolutely concurred the bike riding milestone.

From what I’ve read, this usually occurs within 3-5 sessions. The Gyrowheel has three different speed settings which control how much or little stability it provides. During our second session we were on the highest (most stable setting) so during the next session I will take it down to medium, followed by low, followed by no Gyrowheel at all.

Actually, I just checked the manual and we were on the lowest stability setting (oops! I didn’t have the manual with me on Sunday so I was going by memory). A pleasant surprise. So my new strategy is to let her ride like that again and then perhaps on a subsequent outing turn the thing off altogether and see what happens.

Emma Riding Her Bike (after 3 minutes)

We got to the parking lot and road the bike. She got it on her second attempt. This is video shot 3 minutes after we started riding for the day. Both Emma and I are a bit shaky. 🙂

Emma 7 minutes later

Check out the marked increase in her confidence level.

Emma Loses Her Second Tooth

And just like that, Emma loses her second tooth. Again, she nagged me for weeks to pull it out and today was the big day. Even though it was looser than the first one when I pulled it, it had more fight and required several attempts.

Emma admitted that this extraction was a little more painful than the first (and she knew what to expect this time) which indicates that I need to work on my technique. Luckily for me I have 18 more chiclets with which to hone my craft. Muhahaha!

Emma Loses Her First Tooth

Emma has been waiting excitedly for one of her teeth to fall out. I got to be honest with you, I don’t remember it being such an exciting endeavor when I was a kid. In fact, I recall being quite nervous and a bit skeeved about the whole thing.

For Emma, the experience is more of a right-of-passage. Each gaping hole worn proudly like the ribbon bars on an enlisted man’s chest. The more missing teeth, the more highly decorated you are in the eyes of your peers.

The only thing I like less then losing a tooth, is pulling them out of someones head. But alas, Emma had been begging me for days and today I finally relented.

I must say, she handled the whole thing with more courage then I ever had. She really wanted that sucker out and a little blood or pain was not going to stop her.

Since this was such a huge deal for her we decided to record the event.

Emma Baking Some Muffins

As I’ve mentioned before, my little one loves to bake. Today we decided to make some whole grain banana nut muffins. Here she is mixing the ingredients….and being a little silly:0


Emma X 2

Today we spent a little time with Emma’s friend, Emma and her mommy (my good friend), Lisa. Emma really enjoys spending time with her. We walked over to their house and brought over Emma’s scooter which her Titi Lissy and Padrino got for her. She LOVES to ride it. She’s actually getting pretty good at it now.

Her friend Emma has a bicycle, tricycle and scooter, so she had a blast trying them all out. We had a great time!


Kids Museum = Fun!

DSC04531DSC04558DSC04582DSC04589DSC04622DSC04627DSC04635Today we went to the kids museum with Emma’s friend Alex and her mommy (my good friend), Erica. We saw an Imax movie in 3D which was phenomenal, then we had a picnic lunch that we brought from home followed by playtime at the museum. The girls had a great time. One of Emma’s favorite things to do there is play with water. She also enjoys playing in the garden, climbing around the pirate ship and pretending to be a doctor.

There are 2 water sections- indoor and outdoor. The outdoor one had a new sculpture of bullrushes:) Isn’t that something! I just learned their name 3 days ago and here they are again. You can see the girls posing in front of them below.

Emma Goes To Preschool!!!

The day Emma has been waiting for for over 8 months has arrived. Today she officially began Preschool. She was so excited to finally start. She woke up with a big smile on her face and was eager to get up and go. Mark went with me as he had not met her teachers yet. She was happy as a pig in mud. Of course Mark and I stood outside peeking in to make sure she was ok. She really was, on the other hand, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We’ve never left her anywhere so leaving her in school for a few hours is a huge adjustment for us.

She is only going to be attending 2 mornings this year as we want to ease her in. I think it’s more of an “easing-in” for us than for her, but whatever works best for the “family” is what we have to do:)

As soon as she got to school, she washed her hands (school policy) and then settled in to do some art work. When we peeked in through the door, she was by her cubbie with one of her teachers. Her teachers this year are Ms. Emily and Ms. Anna. She was getting the painting she’s had made for them out of her cubbie.


Emma Painting

Emma wanted to bring in a special gift for her teachers on the first day of school so she drew a watercolor painting for each of them.

Here she is working on her art pieces:



Emma is swimming again! Her favorite thing in the world is water. She absolutely LOVES it and is drawn to it like a mouse to cheese. Anytime she sees water, she HAS to touch it, she just can’t help herself. Because of her love for water and fearlessness, Mark and I want to make sure she can swim. We don’t want her to fall into a pool one day as she reaches to touch the water and then panic when she realizes she can’t swim.

We have taken her to the pool numerous times and we have even done two “mommy and me” swim classes- one in 2008 and one this past summer. However, as neither one of us has ever had swimming lessons, we wanted someone with experience to teach her proper swimming techniques and most importantly, water safety skills.

So, she has a wonderful teacher named Ms. Laura that has been in swimming teams most of her life and is also a preschool teacher. She is wonderful with kids and really challenges them. Emma had a great first day. She will be taking classes once a week for 8 weeks. After just one day, I feel like she is going to make a lot of progress with Ms. Laura. She is comfortable with her and I can tell she is really enjoying herself. Here are some shots from today:

Emmarella doing Laundry

I know most 3 year-olds are not into doing laundry, cleaning, and helping out around the house, but our little Cinderella, um I mean Emmarella loves it! She is always asking me if she can help me clean, cook, bake, etc. Today, she wanted to fold the clothes. She took the clothes out of the dryer, folded it and matched all the socks for me. She even put everything in little piles on the couch, the same way I do before putting it in the laundry basket. She is a very detail-oriented child. She notices everything I do, and then imitates me when she’s “the mommy”.

She is such a wonderful little helper! It’s true that sometimes, her help might slow me down a bit but most days, I am just so glad to see her excited about helping, that I encourage her to help out. She always impresses me with her determination. She truly makes me proud:)