ride sally ride

Brooklynn has been riding her bike for the past two years with training wheels. She's comfortable with them on and rides pretty quickly, but the entire time, she's been aware that the training wheels are something big kids don't have. She also hasn't learned to lean into turns and when she pedals hard up hills, she sometimes lifts the back wheel off the ground leaning entirely onto the small training wheel. Last month, we told her that maybe this summer would be the year she learned to ride a bike without them. And she immediately demanded that we take the training wheels off. She was FIVE! No balance aides required. Because she's five. Of course a birthday automatically imparts the ability to balance on two wheels.

I took them off, and since her bike seat was set too high for her to reach the ground, I held on while she climbed up. The first trip to the corner and back I held on tight and kept her upright. I imagine it felt to her much like having the training wheels on. The bike stayed stable and vertical regardless of her body position. The next trip, she informed me that I didn't have to hold on so much. So I didn't.

Two seconds later, she was yelling at me because I almost let her fall and how could I do that!? She's just a little kid.

The training wheels went back on.

We've been looking at the strider bikes for Maddi, the kind where there aren't any pedals and kids learn to balance by walking with their feet and gliding. Brooklynn wanted nothing to do with it, because that was for little kids. She has a pedal bike, don't you know. But after visiting a store with them and letting the girls ride around the small strider bikes, Brooklynn admitted that maybe it would be ok to try it.

I lowered her bike seat all the way and took off the pedals. She could just reach the ground enough to push along and she started by basically walking. Our bike and walk outings went from a few miles around the hills of the neighborhood to around the block and back home. And little by little, we started to see improvements. She would glide the last 10 feet down the driveway. She would almost come to a complete stop before she put her foot down to catch herself.

Last night, we watched her glide down a slight hill on the sidewalk for almost 100 feet without touching her feet. Her balance wasn't perfect, and it really looked like she could use someplace to put her feet. Maybe it was time.

I put the pedals back on, and she was immediately more concerned with pedaling and braking than balancing. I helped her by holding on, but it did not go well. She put her bike away, told me I didn't do a good job for her, and went inside.

Brooklynn will quit on things if she doesn't immediately succeed. It's one of the things we are a little worried about her with as she starts school this fall. Rhiannon told her to try one more time. To just push along like she knows how, and if she felt good about it, maybe put her feet on the pedals. And if she still felt good, maybe pedal once around.

She got back on the bike. One more time, she told us. But that was it. And then...

I had to kick her off the bike to get ready for bed. She told me that she's going to ride all afternoon today.

I've never been so proud.

holiday concert

Back by popular demand, Brooklynn's holiday concert for this year[1. As always, head over to Vimeo for the full HD version.].

2012 Holiday Concert from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

When the girls stop dance and all look down for a little bit in the first song, that was because two of them realized they had the same shoes. Brooklynn would also like to point out that she fell down because she was just doing a little silly dancing and not because she's still a little clumsy.

roll over

Turn your back for one second and your kids will get all grown up on you.

Roll Over from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

It seems like a couple of weeks ago that she was a newborn who couldn't hold her head up and now we have this tiny person in our house who you can't even trust to stay in one spot for too long.

Brooklynn does get concerned when Maddi ends up on the wood floor. Luckily during this video, she was busy with me as I tried to get her to finish her supper.

2011 - a year in photos

2011 Photo Recap - as always, head over to Vimeo to see the HD version.

Sometimes Rhiannon and I discuss all the things we don't do. We don't camp as much as we would like. We should really get around to building that container garden in the back yard. Why haven't we finished flooring of the garage yet?

And then I actually go back and look at some pictures from the past year and I guess that we are busy enough.

You'll notice that our pictures are kind of dominated by Brooklynn. With Artoo on the way, I imagine that she'll have to share the spotlight a little more next year. Either that or this yearly effort will scale up to mini-documentary status. I already crammed about 620 photos into 390 seconds. At this rate, we'll be 1000+ pics and double digit minutes. That, or I'll actually have to edit a little bit.

This year was also the first year that our cell phone cameras have a major presence. We've found the saying that the best camera you have is the one you have with you to be very true. A decent chunk of the photos in this were taken by Rhiannon, so thanks to her and every one else that helped make 2011 a great year for our family.

presenting brooklynn

Last night, Rhiannon and I got to be parents in the audience with a video camera for the very first time. And, thanks to the power of the internet, you get to see it too.

This is the program from her school. What you don't see in the video is that the stage was lined with over 20 kids and three teachers. I thought everyone stood in line and "performed" very well considering it's a bunch of two year olds under the lights with a whole bunch of cameras pointed at them[1. Wow. Talk about cameras. Video cameras, cell phones, digital cameras. Everything under the sun. And everyone clamoring for a shot of their kid. And yes, I'm just as guilty as everyone else.]. Out of all of them, only one kid cried and had to leave the stage with his parents. I've picked her up from school in the evening when there are only a handful of kids left and it's a little overwhelming to me, so seeing 20+ small people in a group, standing at attention neatly in a line was beyond impressive.

We didn't know exactly what to expect - Brooklynn was basically asleep when we got there, but we had a little time to sit in the audience and let her warm up. When she saw her teacher and some of her friends, she was ready to go. You'll note that while she didn't do all of the actions, she did sing some of the words, and of course she danced around. In our house we sing and we dance around. We do some actions, and then we dance some more.

She got to bed almost an hour past her normal time, which actually wasn't bad considering the video was shot at a time that she is usually asleep. This morning, we were talking about what a good job she did at her singing concert last night and she thought it would be fun to go do it again.

Yes, Brooklynn. You just have to wait one short year.

A, B, C... oh, what?

Brooklynn has gone through several stages in her life of us trying to capture her in pictures and video. The first was indifference, where she may or may not repeat a funny behavior and there wasn't much you could do to alter her reactions. Then came the manipulatable stage, where we could get her to laugh or repeat behavior based on our reactions. Following that was a tough stage where she just really wanted to touch any camera or electronic device she saw.

Right now, she knows when we want her to do things again. She is capable of repeating her behaviors on command. The question is will she cooperate.

She just finished two rounds of complete ABCs, so we figured we should get a video of her doing it. Right, we should know better than to expect a full performance on demand. Silly parents.

go, sarah!

Last weekend, we drove up to South Dakota to watch Sarah run in a cross country race. For anyone who has not personally attended one of these, they are typically on a golf course with the finish near the start line. Spectators can cut across the middle of the loop (in this case, two loops) and watch the runners go by a couple times. Start, cheer, watch the runners go. You run or walk quickly to the next place and wait for them to come by.

Wait, cheer, watch, walk. Rinse, repeat.

Brooklynn was very excited to see Sarah and a little confused as to why we weren't going with her. Sarah was running away and we should go find her!

So, to pass the time until she came back around, we helped Brooklynn learn how to cheer. The best (or worst) part of this - right after stopped recording, she started yelling, "Go Sarah!" as loud as she could all by herself.


We got Brooklynn a scooter as a late birthday present from us. It's taken a little bit of learning, but she's getting better at it. She's almost to the point that she will glide a little in between pushes, which is an improvement from constantly dragging her foot on the ground when she first started.

She's also learned that it's much easier to go downhill and walk back up, especially when she gets someone else to push the scooter uphill for her.

And she always wears a helmet. And she usually wears shoes[1. I didn't have mine on this particular evening and so she refused to keep hers on either.].

working in the future

Part of me thinks that companies should not be spending on money on somewhat useless stuff that looks like this and part of me really likes it. Now we just need those doors that "whoosh" open and closed.

This is just the backup exit button.

brooklynn goes shopping

Just in case you were wondering, yes, I realize I never did a monthly letter for Brooklynn last month. At this point, considering we're 10 days away from getting to the next month milestone, I'll shoot for having that done within a week of it actually passing. I have a whole list of excuses from being busy at work to spending more time outside to the fact that more technology is making my life more complicated. I'm maybe at some point in her life, Brooklynn will point back to this time as when it became apparent that I didn't love her as much as I said I did.

Anyway, here's a video to tide you over.

Brooklynn Goes Shopping from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

Who ever thought that shopping could be so exciting?

And now you also know why we prefer to do our shopping in the evenings when the stores aren't packed.

tiny playground

Tiny Playground from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

There is a small playground on the way to the grocery store that Brooklynn likes to stop at when we go for walks.

Two rocking animals and two swings - typically, we have to use all four of them before we can continue on. (Except for the day when she was content to sit and throw wood chips down the hill.)

This was shot, edited and uploaded completely from my cell phone with a free application from Vimeo. Yes, the future is now.

Now if we could just get decent cell phone reception at our house in a major metro area so Rhiannon wouldn't have to talk to her sisters on the cell phone only when we go for walks.

from a baby's perspective

One of the things that I got for Christmas was made for me by my brother-in-law, Dalon. It's a home made video camera "steadicam" consisting of some piping, a weight, and a screw. Simple, but yet something that I didn't have the tools, materials, or time to make. So yes, it's a big heavy black thing that you put a somewhat tiny camera on and walk around with. An arm and shoulder workout and hopefully smoother video all at once.

In short, one of those really cool gifts that I knew what it was but everyone else in the room kind of went "Huh?" about.

The day after Christmas, I had the chance to test it out. We were pulling Brooklynn around in the yard on the sled (and when I say Brooklynn, I mean Brooklynn and Sarah and when I say we, I mean Brooklynn's grandpa) and I was videoing. The problem I've always had shooting video of Brooklynn, at least ever since she started moving, was that I would either have to hold the camera at my chest as I walked around to be stable or deal with the jerkiness that comes when I try to crouch as I walk to follow her around.

So, with the homebrew steadicam, I just flip it over and have the camera down at ground level. Yes, the video is upside down, but I flip that back over on the computer. And no, I didn't flip the audio tracks, so left and right are a little off here, but it doesn't matter too much in this version.

Do still need practice to get a little smoother? Sure. But it's a whole lot better than it was. Now if only the snow wasn't quite so crunchy underfoot.

Sledding with Brooklynn from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

Thanks go out to Sarah for riding around with Brooklynn, who apparently doesn't like actually touching or being close to snow all that much, and to Ted, for pulling people around while I played with my camera. Don't worry, I took my turn at pulling too, just as soon as Brooklynn got comfortable enough to sit in the sled all by herself.

2010 - a look back

Rhiannon recently informed me that the middle of March is not an appropriate time to start thinking about putting together a photo slideshow for the previous year. This came as a bit of a shock to me considering I seem to put off computer projects like that for at least a few months after they should have been done. (Next up: Brooklynn's one year old book - I figure I'll get to it by the time she's 3 or so.) So I went back through the photo archives and picked out a few or 300 that seemed to summarize our year. All presented for your viewing enjoyment in chronological order. Less than a week in to the new year. I'm going to get around to making those 2010 resolutions any day now at this rate.

Before we had a kid of our own, I thought that people who had a baby and spent all their time talking about their kid and taking pictures of their kid were kind of obsessive and weird. Seriously, get your own life, right? If you feel the same way, maybe you should skip the video.

I didn't count how many of the pictures Brooklynn is in, but I'm guessing that it's around two-thirds. And of the few thousand pictures from the year that I didn't pick, she's probably hovering somewhere north of 90%. I guess that makes me kind of obsessive and weird.

Major highlights of the year: a week in the hospital with respiratory issues, a trip to California, Oregon, and Washington along the pacific coast, going back to North Dakota for my 10-year reunion (add old to obsessive and weird), a trip to Minnesota to visit grandparents, going to a cross country meet, and a trip back to ND again for Christmas.

As always, head over to Vimeo to see the larger HD version.

2010 : A Year in Photos from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

a four-hour tour

From the way-back department, a couple of video clips I took on a jet boat tour we went on out in Oregon. The weekend we were in Grants Pass, the “Boatnik Festival” was going on. It’s a carnival in the city park and boat racing on the river. While we loaded the boats, there happened to be drag boats racing just upriver. Rhiannon, Tricia, and I ended up on the one jet boat that took the drag course. It was slow and gentle compared to the drag boats that had to be towed around using wave runners, but I believe that our boat with around 60 people on board high 50mph heading upriver.

The boats can operate with a full passenger load at full speed in the just a few feet of water, and since they are flat bottomed vessels, they can spin around pretty well. No promises were ever made about staying dry, and yes, my camera survived the trip.

Jet Boat Tour from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

a little more mobile

We've had this video on a camera for a couple of weeks now.

Freestander from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

She can walk. She just doesn't want to. It's to the point we have to put something in her hands to distract her and make her forget about the fact her feet are moving.

I keep waiting for her to stand up on her own (which she can do), balance for a while (does it all the time), and casually stroll across the room (not so much). She still knows if she sits down and yells loud and long enough, we'll eventually come get her.

Wrapped around her little finger, we are.

the mobility in the house is getting serious

Brooklynn on the Move from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

Music: White Sky by Vampire Weekend

Last time, we saw Brooklynn walking behind a scooter. Well, she isn't walking on her own yet, but she's getting more mobile all the time, which means she's getting in to more things than ever.

It also leads to many an instance where I turn around for a minute, look back, and wonder, "Hey, where's the baby? I swore she was just right here."

We actually got serious enough to buy some childproofing supplies for the house this weekend and we now have some of our cabinets containing hazardous chemicals a little better protected.

Now, I just have to figure out how to get in the cabinets myself and life will be ok.

ready to head out on the town

Brooklynn Goes for a Stroll from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

She really likes her little walker, stroller, or scooter as we've taken to calling it. If it seems like she gets stuck from time to time running into things, that's because she does. But don't worry, she's figured out how to move around to the front side and push it backwards, but she only does this when we don't actually want her to go anywhere.

Not shown: her falling flat on her back about 5 seconds after the movie ended. She's still learning.

(Technical Note: You can watch an HD version of the video in glorious full screen at Vimeo. We bought an HD camcorder - I figured I better get some use out of it sooner or later. You can also download your very own copy at the site as well.)

career choice

I've heard it said many times that if you choose to do something you love as a career, you'll never have to work a day in your life. Sappy or not, I imagine there are professions that people are really excited to get up and do every day. Now, I just need to figure out how to make a living designing Rube Goldberg machines.

Inspired by the following video from OK Go:

I'd suggest going to YouTube and watching the HD version, several times. This is one of the coolest videos I have seen in a long time on the internet. Please excuse me while I go pick my jaw up from the floor.