Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What in the world have we been up to???

Correction: What HAVEN'T we been up to??? :) There are two MAJOR milestones happening in our household right now: reading and bike-riding. I'm talking about pick-up-a-book-and-read and hop-on-that-two-wheel-bicycle-and-ride. Milestones are exciting - I remember what a feeling of pride I had when the girls potty-trained at two. It wasn't self-pride; it was watching them "get it", "understand it", and "succeed at it". Seeing their faces as they felt the need to pee, watching them race to the bathroom, and then celebrating the dry undy-dundies. Two and a half years later and that sense of pride has just continued to multiply. 
About a month ago, Elise sat beside me with the book Ten Apples Up On Top, which we had not read together in ages. Abby and I snuggled in and let Elise read to us. She paused at the end of sentences. She scanned each page carefully before reading, taking in the necessary clues to figure out less-familiar words. Elise read. At dinner last weekend, Abby picked up the piano music to The Sound of Music (a new favorite and stories for another post). She read through the songs, pointing not only to each word precisely and accurately but pointing to individual syllables as they were broken up by the notes. Abby read. 

On their third birthday, the girls received balance bikes from Gran, Grandpa, and Uncle Travis. The concept behind the balance bike is - duh - to teach balance. There are no pedals - kids push along with their legs in a long, graceful alternating motion and pick their feet up to ride it out. Do you have small children around three years of age? Buy. A. Balance. Bike. Last weekend, we mosied up to a nearby parking lot because the weather was nice and took along a little two-wheel pedal bike that Uncle T snagged for us (aka "dumpster bike"). It's tiny but the perfect size. And guess what? Off they went! With a push or two, both Abby and Elise were cruising around, turning circles and riding back, coordinating and balancing beautifully. 

Abby and Elise - I am insanely proud of you girls right now. Reading is hard - sometimes you get frustrated and can't figure out a word. But everyday, you pick up dozens of books and keep trying. Bike riding takes work - you both fell off the bike last weekend, but you brushed away the tears and dirt and got back on. And now you're reading the texts on my phone when it buzzes and zooming down the street faster than I can run. I am so proud of both of you. 

A lot of milestones just "happen". But I believe from the deepest depths that the path a child takes to reach those milestones can be altered. Listening to the girls read and watching them ride bikes - it makes so many of the decisions we have made as parents feel so right. A child's body needs to be healthy and strong, their mind needs to be primed, nourished, and stimulated. And while sometimes it's exhausting, being a proud parent makes every bit worthwhile. 

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