Friday, April 13, 2012

A Well-Balanced Boy

Big news in the Anderson household...


(Here he is riding to the mailbox... it got cold,
so I loaned him my jacket. E.T. anyone?)

We're all so excited! I especially am! This teaching James how to ride sans help has been... well, hellish. Mostly I am impatient and expect immediate success. I also tend to think that the drill sergeant method is the best way to booster a child's confidence. This may or may not be true... yeah, it probably isn't. But I swear it's the only thing that works with James (case in point: potty training).

We started the bike training with Derek at the helm. But that lasted all of five minutes before I took over. I thought Derek was being too soft, ha. So I kicked it into drill sergeant mode, which quickly escalated into mommy-swears-too-much mode, which resulted in Derek taking over again. Then I got the smart (no sarcasm, it really was smart) idea to try riding on the road. Our road isn't very busy being in a little subdivision and all, and trying to stay inside the confines of a tiny sidewalk whilst learning and mastering all the rest seemed a bit much. So we moved it to the black top. And that seemed to help (though asphalt is much rougher to scrape against, ow). Then we made it into a game. Derek would hold onto James, James would peddle and try to ride, and I would run in front of him. It was a chase game, and it made things a whole lot more fun. The faster I would move my feet, the faster James would peddle, and having me in front of him helped him keep his eyes on the prize (instead of looking to the side and tipping over). It was the first time bike training was fun for him. Progress.

Days passed, and rainy days as well as Easter and the family fun that accompanied it came and went. Then we tried again. And again. And again. The biggest hurdle was getting James over his fear of falling. Fear of failure (and just fear in general) is an issue with him. Finally I tried to get him to start on his own, to get peddling at his own speed. This helped him be less afraid, as he wasn't moving so quickly. Then he saw our neighbor friend Audrey who had just learned a week or so to ride unassisted, and that bolstered his confidence as well. We saw how she wiggled as she rode, and he tried to mimic her strategy.

In the end, he figured things out. He would go for quite a stretch without stopping. Then he would go even while aware that we were not holding on. And today... HE RODE CONFIDENTLY BY HIMSELF!!

Watching him ride and seeing the joy he felt doing it (finally!) made it all worth it. He was having fun! He was proud of himself!! I think that is possibly the best moment for a parent, to see your child believe in him/herself. Oh James, you're a rock star!

Star quote of the day... James had just finished riding for a long stretch (we rode to the mailbox and back, which is no small feat). He was beaming. And he said emphatically, "I'm SO PROUD of myself!!" :) Oh, baby... we're proud of you, too. We really, really are.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Green Day on the Red Rocks

My mother-in-law has lived in St. George for a couple of years now, and we have yet to visit her there. Granted, she comes up here several weekends a month. But still. Now that Derek has graduated (happy dance), he has entire weekends off. No work. No school. Nothin'. It's pretty fabulous, and we've very much enjoyed this new freedom. Anyway, now that we have a couple of days off in a row, we have travel time available to us. We decided to visit Julie for her birthday- for St. Patrick's Day. It was a spring break of sorts. And it was loads of fun.

One huge milestone for me: I let Julie drive all the way down to St. George with my babies...without me! If you know me, you know how huge this was. I can hardly let them leave my sight for a couple of hours, let alone an entire day! And traveling! It was a really emotional, difficult choice to make. But in the end, I knew they would all be okay. And they were. They had such a fun time! They were able to make lots and lots of wonderful memories with Grandma Julie, and they were able to make several fun stops along the way, taking their time, so the trip down wasn't too painful. I'm glad I let them go. I think it was good for all of us.

That Saturday ("Green" Day... though we ought to call it "winds-day" as it was super windy), we headed out to the red rocks - to "climb the mountains." James was really excited. We started out with a picnic then proceeded to explore.

Our happy family sitting in a "cave"
The pioneers (trecking settlers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, circa mid 1800s) had built some pretty amazing rudimentary structures amid the red rocks, and we were lucky enough to explore one. They apparently found little slot canyons (small wedges between big rocks/mts) and boarded up the top with wood. Then they built stone/brick walls to enclose the area. This one even had a window and a fireplace and chimney! Super cool! Just a tiny one-room structure, but very smart. Such a brilliant way to get out of the wind and sun (and away from the wild animals, I'm sure)! Very cool.

From inside looking out:
After exploring the pioneer house, we continued to follow trails and scale rocks. We had a wonderful time.

A lot of the more ambitious climbing was done by Derek and James. We girls stayed behind and let them do their mountain-man thing.
Jolie, however, was not entirely pleased to be left behind. :( She really hated not being with her boys. (That and she had missed nap time... that could have contributed to the extent of her sadness.)
Luckily, Jolie has a pretty phenomenal daddy. He would rescue the poor damsel and carry her along.

It was really cute to see the kids exploring. I was quite proud of Jolie, getting down and dirty with the rest of 'em. She's getting to be such a big girl!
And James was unbelievable! He is often quite the scaredy-cat, but after just a few minutes he had warmed up to the whole "mountain climbing" concept and was very brave (sometimes too much for a mommy's heart). He seemed to have summoned his inner mountain goat after all! :)
I think Grandma Julie had a good birthday. We really loved hanging out with her. We don't often get one-on-one time with her, and it was really fun to see her in this different light and just hang out.
While hiking the red rocks, we were able to get a pretty sweet view of the airshow that was going on down below. (If I'd had my glasses, it would have been substantially better for me... ugh.) Derek and Julie especially enjoyed seeing the sweet loop-de-loops and dives. Ack- so scary! It was a fun, unexpected element to our hike.

Something about the red rocks is so beautiful to me...

We are so, so glad we were able to go down. We had a wonderful time! Happy St. Patrick's Day! Happy Birthday, Grandma Julie! And Happy, Happy SPRING! :)