Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Learning to ride a two-wheeler bike is hard. If your kids are like mine, they started with tricycles, moved to a two-wheeler with training wheels, and then stayed there happily until I left town for a weekend and my husband forced them to learn without the training wheels.

Well, that worked for one of them at least. The other two are still in the training wheels phase.

Learning to ride the two-wheeler is so hard because you have to coordinate your balance, work the pedals, figure out the brakes, and it's not so instinctual to put your feet down on the ground if you start to topple, because they're "supposed" to be on the pedals.

Enter GlideBikes. These are "balance bikes" that teach kids to ride two-wheelers by simplifying the whole experience. They are smaller, lower bikes with no pedals that allow children to learn two-wheel balance. The theory is that kids start by "walking" the bike without the pedals getting in the way. Once they get the hang of it, they can glide, balanced upright on two wheels. For a more detailed explanation of this method, check out this post by Christine of Day Sixty-Seven, who wrote about teaching kids to ride on balance bikes.

There are three GlideBike models:

• The Mini Glider for ages 2-5, up to 100 pounds ($99.99)
• The Go Glider for ages 5-10, up to 125 pounds ($129.95)
• The Super Glider for ages 10 and up, up to 250 pounds—ideal for special needs individuals

Once kids get the balance down, they can put their feet on the foot pegs, located about where pedals usually are. The foot pegs can be rotated out of the way on the mid-size bike so they won't be a distraction for kids who feel like they're "supposed" to put their feet up there, which mine did.

Sam mastered the GlideBike quickly.

My 5- and 7-year-olds were a little hesitant to try the GlideBike. Honestly, I think think they would have been more willing to practice on it if they hadn't already started with training wheels. Because GlideBikes are made for kids as young as two (and have easily height-adjustable seats), it would be easy to skip the training wheel stage altogether.

I loaned one of the bikes to a friend of mine who has a barely-four-year-old daughter. This was her experience:
"K likes it a lot. She feels like a big girl on it and she shows it off to everyone we see on the way around the neighborhood. She is still walking it along pretty slowly so we will need a lot more time to see if she learns to balance on it. One problem we had with is that the kickstand sticks out too far and she kept banging her ankle into it. We removed it and problem solved."
I LOVE the idea of these bikes. I especially love it for kids who might have coordination issues. Bikes like the GlideBike really break down the skills needed to ride so it's easier to do.

There are some features about these bikes that I really liked.

• They are very lightweight. I carried the Go Glider and two scooters across a big field the other day with no problem.

• They seem to be very solid and high quality. Check out their website comparing their balance bikes to their competitors.

• They make a "Super Glider," for individuals who may not be able to learn how to ride bikes when they are younger and smaller.

• They look like "real" bikes, so they don't look babyish. I think this is especially important for the Super Gliders.

• The company seems to have put thought into what special needs kids need in a balance bike. I like companies that care about things like this.

• They have hand brakes, so there is less of a chance that your child will go flying down a hill and hit a tree.

There were a few downsides as well.

• They have hand brakes, which means that your kids have to figure out how to use them.

• Like my friend noted, the kickstand is a little awkward. My seven-year-old with autism scratched himself on it while trying to stop, and it made him nervous to try it again.

• My kids are a little reluctant to practice on the bikes. This is not so much a fault of the bikes as just a situation with my kids.

We're definitely going to keep working at learning on the GlideBikes though, because I firmly believe that they are a great way to teach my kids to ride a two-wheeler.

Honesty Clause: GlideBikes sent me a Mini Glider and a Go Glider for review purposes. I am donating the Mini Glider to someone who teaches bike riding clinics. We're keeping the Go Glider until my middle and youngest child learn to balance.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rubik's Slide Electronic Puzzle Game

I'm just going to say right up front that I am really, really bad at the Rubik's cube. I've never been able to do it. It's incredibly frustrating.

However, I ROCK at the Rubik's Slide electronic game—well, at least I rock at the easy setting on the Rubik's Slide.

The Rubik's Slide is a fun little one-sided game in which you push and turn the top panel to try to get the lighted squares to match a target pattern.

It takes a little while to get used to the way the squares rotate and move, but once you get it down, it's pretty simple. There are three difficulty levels—easy, medium, and hard—and two game modes—free play and lighting round.

Free play lets you take as much time as you need to solve the puzzle, and lighting round challenges you to complete ten puzzles before time runs out.

I liked this game. I thought it was really fun. My seven-year-old with autism liked it too. He thought it was way cool. One of the things I dug about the game is that you can sit down and play it for just a couple minutes and then walk away. It's an easy portable way to pass a few minutes. Plus, I like that it's an actual manipulative instead of just electronic or computer buttons, which is what it seems like so many games are today. It's fun to actually move and shift it around.

There are more than 10,000 puzzles programmed into this little square, so you get a new puzzle or set every time. The hard levels are very challenging, but if you get frustrated, you can go back to the easy levels. I'm a puzzle girl at heart, so this kind of game is right up my alley.

Honesty Clause: I received a review sample of the Rubik's Slide at no charge. It retails for $19.99.

The Messenger

Stimey is watching The Messenger. It's a good movie, but mostly what I notice is that Woody Harrelson is an electric actor. Dude is good.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Book of Eli

Stimey is watching The Book of Eli. It was fun and easy to watch and all, but I think this movie was definitely more about style over substance. Don't get me wrong, the style was awesome and right up my alley, but the substance was a little all over the place. There is also a fun twist at the end. I'd recommend it if you like post-apocalyptic stuff—which I obviously do.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Zebrafish and Generation Cures

This is kind of a book review, but mostly not. Zebrafish is a graphic novel about a group of kids who form a band to raise money for a good cause, which turns out to be equipment for cancer research.

Zebrafish the book is an extension of an online animated series by the same name developed for an organization by the name of Generation Cures. Zebrafish is named after the small, transparent fish used for studying disease.

It is a cute book for tweens with a good message, and part of the proceeds from sales go to Children's Hospital Boston. Bigger than just the book, however, is the organization behind Zebrafish—Generation Cures.

Generation Cures is a philanthropic movement founded in May 2008, inspiring kids to help other kids with medical problems through "engagement on their own terms" via fundraising activities and digital media. Generation Cures is attempting to teach kids to care about others, to believe they can make a difference, and to mobilize their families to help find cures for childhood diseases.

The award-winning Generation Cures website has pages for kids, teens, parents, and teachers and includes games, ideas, and ways to give. You can also like Generation Cures on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

The website and Facebook page are full of stories of kids making a difference as well as celebrities such as Demi Lovato and Jennie Garth. If you are interested in helping your kids learn how they can make a difference in the world, this could be a great place to start.

Generation Cures has won a variety of awards, including Website of the Year by Mom's Choice Awards; Kid Zui Seal, given by a review board of more than 200 teachers and parents; Gold Davey Awards, honoring creative excellence; and Parents' Choice Awards, for Fall 2009 website.

Honesty Clause: I received a review copy of Zebrafish at no charge. List price is $16.99.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Stimey is watching all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'll admit to being a fan of the original movie as well. I gotta say, the more of his work I see, the more often I hear myself saying, "Joss Whedon is a genius."