After a few years of on-and-off attempts to ride a bike, Molly is finally doing it!
Molly got a ride-behind bike for her birthday and got a little experience pedaling with me around the neighborhood and even across town. And then she got inspired to try riding on her own. I was a little skeptical this was going to work, but Molly was determined to make it work.
Here are the results of a little trial and error on Alpine Road. Here is footage of literally the first time Molly really rode her bike on her own. 😄
I was so excited, I kept saying stuff like “Molly, I’m so proud of you. This morning you couldn’t ride a bike, and now you can!” or “This is the start of a whole new thing for you!”. And Molly basically told me to calm down. “Dad, every day hundreds or kids learn to ride a bike.” 😂 But you could tell she was proud.
Here’s some footage from a week later once she’s really got it down.
After several years of swimming, Claire has finally graduated from Emler Swim School. She knows all the strokes, and they have nothing left to teach her. Claire can really, really swim now. Mission accomplished.
Elmer has been a major part of our routine over the last few years, ever since she started there back in 2011. Claire has gone to countless classes there. She had a birthday party there. Elmer even became a fun part of our Tuesday routine for a while, back before homework took over all weekdays after school. Since then it was a major part of our Friday nights routines, along with meeting Maddie and Kamile’s family at Jason’s Deli across the street before swimming.
Molly still has time left at Elmer, but it won’t be the same without Claire diving in too. Seriously, though, they taught Claire a lot. That girl can swim.
The other day, Claire suggested that she might not need a kid’s car booster seat any more. At first I thought, “Of course she needs a booster seat! Only really big kids can ride without a booster!” Well, guess what. Claire is a big kid now. We tested out the seat belt on her without a booster, and it was just fine.
Today, Molly took it upon herself to try out Claire’s old bike that has been siting around unused in the back yard. She convinced me to help her clean it up and pump up the tires. Molly got around alright with the training wheels. She may be bypassing her big sister soon, who has so far shown very little interest in biking.
For shoes, Claire has had slip-on’s such as Crocs mot of her life. She has also dabbled in velcro. We recently branched out to real shoelace shoes, some running shoes that she loves. It took her a lot of practice to learn to tie these shoes herself, but she’s officially able to do it on her own as of today. And by the way, the “rabbit through the hole” analogy for tying shoes was officially not helpful to her.
Molly rode the school bus home for the first time today. It was a brave step for a Pre-K kid like Molly to hop onto a gigantic, loud bus full of big kids as old as 12. Molly was barely as tall as the lowest step on the bus. But Molly did it with full confidence, no complaints, and no problems.
This was an accomplishment for Claire too. Being in Pre-K, Molly gets out at 2:00 rather than 2:45. Molly goes to Extend-a-Care for 45 minutes, at which point Claire gets out of class and picks up Molly. Claire actually has to find Molly and her stuff, sign her out, and get her across school in halls clogged with 895 other kids, to the bus before it leaves. This is also challenge because Molly is a bit of a slow walker. The teachers, Extend-a-Care staff, the bus driver were all prepared for this, and they all helped make it safe and easy to get Molly to the bus. The bus driver and Claire have kept careful watch on Molly to make sure she is alright on the bus. I had asked Claire if she wanted me to go through the process with her once or twice, but she immediately declined, saying she could handle it on her own. Way to go, Claire and Molly!
Molly was excited about riding the bus home, which is good because it is quite helpful for everyone. Up to this point, Claire had been riding the bus home by herself. While Molly stayed at Extend-a-Care, Claire did homework with her nanny Sarah. When Claire was doing something independent like reading, then Sarah would run and get Molly, which took about 45 to 60 minutes door-to-door, including some playground time. This was fine since I was upstairs working from home every day. This changed when I took a new job working at the Whole Foods headquarters. Now Sarah would have to take Claire with her to pick up Molly at Extend-a-Care. Before I started my new job, we did some test runs. It became painfully clear that Claire would not have the time she need to finish her homework if she was also pickup up Molly. Claire was up late, sometimes finishing her homework, up early the next morning to catch up, and some nights in tears. Now, with Molly riding the bus home, they can all stay at home and do homework, etc. without having to head back out into the traffic. Everyone seems to love the new arrangement, although it leaves Sarah with the challenge of keeping Molly from distracting Claire during her homework time.
Claire’s birthday fell on a lucky Saturday this year. And being late November, there were several fun holiday-related things to do around town. Kit and I decided to fill up the day with fun stuff and call it “The Day of Claire”. It is not very often that you have a whole day to spend on your kid’s birthday.
We started out with the post-Thanksgiving / pre-Christmas Chuy’s Children Giving to Children parade downtown. We ran into one of Claire’s former classmates, whose family had a great spot at the parade and let us jump in with them. The highlight was when the parade stopped and all the kids got to run out into the parade to dump presents into pickup trucks on the parade route. Molly loved Curious George and was a little puzzled about the Disney princesses in the parade. Shouldn’t they be at Disney World?
We let Claire choose where we would have lunch, and she picked IHOP right away. We were all in good spirits and had a really fun, silly lunch with a lot of laughing and joking. The pancakes helped, I am sure.
During a break at home, I went to Royer’s Pie Haven to pick up Claire’s birthday pie. We asked Claire what she wanted for her birthday dessert, and she decided on pecan pie. When I picked up the pie form Royer’s, I told the cashier that our 9-year-old selected that for her own birthday, and she said in admiration, “That is awesome!”. Then we discussed how much better pies are than cakes.
Next we went to a late afternoon showing of Elf: The Musical at the Long Center, which was showing for only three days, one of which was exactly on Claire’s birthday. More good luck! After some confusion and delays, we almost missed the show. We had it to the door, carrying Molly for speed, with literally 1 minute to spare. The first usher told us to run to the next door. The next usher saw us running and said, “Okay, you’re good.” and let us in just as the lights were going down. We all liked the musical, and even Molly managed to sit through it without any issues. But I think the girls’ favorite part was exploring the Long Center during intermission and Auditorium Shores afterwards. The girls ran around in the dark, rolling down grassy hills, and admiring the giant “candy canes” that the theater’s columns had been decorated as.
Finally, we stopped by Whole Foods and let everyone pick out their own favorite food from the hot bar. The macaroni and cheese was a big hit with the kids. We sang happy birthday, stuck some candles in the pecan pie, and just had a nice relaxing night together. Claire had already opened her birthday present, which was a giant Playmobil hotel that the whole family had pitched in on. We decided to all get her one big thing instead of a bunch of little things. Claire got to open it early when everyone was around on Thanksgiving, and we spent most of the day assembling the 983-piece set.
The Day of Claire turned out even better than expected. For once, we were all in a good mood almost the entire day. Even the nearly missing the musical didn’t dent our mood. Even Molly didn’t have any issues and just trooped along and had a fun day. Claire’s 9th birthday was a very good one. Next year it will probably be on a Tuesday, and we’ll hurry though a quick dinner and cake like usual, but this year’s birthday was one to remember.
BTW, a few days later, we all agreed that Claire’s birthday was great, but Molly said she didn’t really like it after all.
This is a picture of Molly by her first real homework assignment. Her job was to put together a family tree. Molly was initially excited about the project but got tired of it after a while, as expressed in this picture. Our sparse family tree provided plenty of extra space to decorate with random stickers, which Molly carefully arranged.