We are suckers for thai food! It’s one of our all-time favorites. And one of the dishes we really love is red curry. How about you? If you do, you’re in luck because today we’re going to show you how we make our Vegetable Thai Red Coconut Curry. It’s not hard and all the details are straight ahead! But first, we’re sharing the story of how our kids recently learned to ride their bikes without training wheels.
A couple of weekends ago (before all the endless rain of recent weeks) we had amazing spring weather and finally had a lazy weekend at home where we didn’t have other commitments. Sometimes those are the absolute best weekends. Sometimes they even become the weekends that you’ll remember forever.
Our kids had been riding bikes with training wheels for awhile, but our first few feeble attempts to get them riding without training wheels were not met with success. We were just never really fully committed to the effort. Until finally, we got around to assembling new bikes for the kids — after months of tripping of them in our messy garage — and we knew the timing was right. It was a glorious spring weekend. The kids were super excited about their new bikes. Their new bikes didn’t have training wheels. The stars were all aligned.
Training wheels, while great, are really misnamed. They DO NOT train you how to ride a bike. Quite the opposite in fact, they turn you into a lazy rider. They should call them lazy wheels. You don’t have to learn the one thing that is crucial to riding a bike — balance!
When our kids rode their bikes with training wheels their bikes would wobble from side-to-side from one training wheel to another. They did nothing to actively balance — they just sat back and enjoyed the ride, letting the training wheels do all the work. And so it was no surprise when they attempted their first rides without training wheels and experience a rude surprise. They couldn’t do it. It was foreign. It was scary. And in their own words, it was “impossible!”.
But the same kids that declared biking as “impossible” as they threw their bikes to the ground in frustration were soon zipping up and down our driveway in a training-wheel-free state of euphoria. Which was nothing compared to the parental state of euphoria that accompanies seeing your kids so close to giving up, but then emerging triumphant through hard work and stubborn persistence.
Don’t get me wrong, there were wipe-outs! There were tantrums. There were moments when it seemed impossible would win. But, it didn’t! They kept getting up. They kept trying again. And, in the end, they emerged victoriously. And to see the looks of pride on their faces over what they were accomplishing as they zipped by on their bikes…that…that was amazing. To have them realize the impossible can sometimes become possible through hard work and persistence…well, that was just about the greatest thing ever. That’s the sort of thing you can’t teach your child, they have to experience it. And it made for a weekend we will forever remember fondly. And not only did the kids learn a valuable lesson, it served as a great reminder for the grown-ups as well. Because sometimes things in the oft-frustrating parenting world can seem impossible. But, you just can’t give up. Not ever!
And now, the specific of how our kids learned to ride their bikes:
We had watched videos before, like the one below, about how training wheels really work against your kid’s ability to ride a bike. And on how the best method of teaching your kids to ride their bike involves first taking off the pedals. First they must learn balance, then they learn the rest.
So that’s the method we employed. Pedals off, balance first. Then, the rest of it.
Now, there aren’t really “hills” on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (the highest point in the county we live in is 19 feet above sea level), but on our driveway we do have what qualifies as an “Eastern Shore Hill” which has just enough of a grade to make it work as a gliding hill for bike training. So we started the kids at the top of this hill without the pedals on their bikes. Their challenge was to push off and glide for as far as they could down the hill.
Both kids struggled at first. It was foreign. They had become accustomed to the training wheels saving them when the bike started to lean to one side. Now, with no training wheels, their bikes just wanted to careen over and let’s be honest — that’s pretty scary! Panic set in and threatened to take over. But then…the magic started to happen.
My son started to get it first. He had a little easier time touching the ground with his feet so I think he was a little more comfortable and he soon figured out that when his bike started to careen over he could get his feet down in time and it wouldn’t end in a complete disaster. Emboldened by this discovery, he started to push beyond his comfort zone which is such a huge thing for all of us! Lot’s of time what you really want in life is going to be just beyond your comfort zone? Are you going to just let it dangle just beyond your reach or are you going to take a leap and frickin’ take it!?
Sorry, the emotions of the day are resurfacing and I’m getting pretty fired up! 🙂
Our son started to make more and more progress down the hill. It had become a fun game and with each new personal best his confidence and resolve grew. Before long he was gliding all the way down the hill with his feet never touching the ground. By the time the afternoon rolled around he was demanding for his pedals to be reinstalled.
Pedals present a new challenge because with that first big power stroke the tendency is for weight to shift in that direction and down you go. Such was the case for our son and a new period of frustration began. But he was still drawing confidence from his morning success so he wasn’t about to give up. To aid him along the way, I would sometimes hold his bike and prevent it from tipping while he built up momentum. And then I would let go. The first time I did this I was convinced it would end in disaster. We had quickly gone over how to use the breaks, but they were a little hard to operate with his smaller hands and I just knew his first solo journey would end in a big wipe-out. But it didn’t! He had learned how to put his feet down from his morning of glide biking and so he was able to employ this technique to stop on his solo journeys. It wasn’t always the smoothest of scenes and sometimes his momentum would carry his bike over and he would then trip on it and tumble down, but they were never horrible wipe-outs. And, he recovered quickly from them because he was excited. He was learning fast and he knew it.
Saturday afternoon continued with him continually practicing the solo power pedal start while keeping the bike balanced. He made slow and steady progress and by the end of the day he was starting all by himself and biking for long stints before stopping.
On Sunday, he was up at 6am and eager to quickly get back out on his bike. The first couple attempts to start on his own were rocky but then it all seemed to lock in and he just got it. And he has never looked back! By the end of the day on Sunday, he was off-roading and looked like he had been riding a bike for years even though less than 48 hours earlier the thought of being able to ride a bike was “impossible”.
For my daughter, it was a little bit of a tougher road. She struggled throughout Saturday and didn’t make the same breakthroughs. Her frustration level was exasperated by seeing her brother have success. But she was determined and Sunday morning she was ready to try again. By then I realized one of the things holding her back was that her minimum seat height on her new bike was just a little too high for her to feel like she could comfortably reach the ground with her feet. So, I took the pedals off of one of the older, slightly smaller, bikes so she could start using that using that for her glide training. I feel like this makes for a good analogy to many of the challenges you face as a parent.
You can’t always solve the entire problem for them, but sometimes you can help them by equipping them with the right tool or strategy to employ. Then it’s up to them. They have to put in the work and figure it out. Now, with a bike on which her feet could more easily reach the ground, my daughter started to have a little success. And slowly, but surely, joy and confidence started to swell up inside her swallowing up the frustration and fear that had won the day before. She progressed more. And more! It makes me want to cry with pride just thinking about it. She is one stubborn and determined kid which can work for her or against her. But in this instance, it was working for her because she just refused to give up. Her Sunday was much like her brother’s Saturday. And then by the end of Sunday, if I helped her get started — she still hadn’t quite mastered the power pedal start — she could bike for long stretches all on her own. And then, like her brother, on her next biking day she quickly mastered starting on her own and now she zips all over the place. They both love biking.
Wow! What a weekend! It’s a great feeling watching your kids experience pure joy! But it’s even better when you know they journeyed to get there. That they never gave up and that they learned with hard work sometimes the impossible becomes possible. That’s really amazing stuff! Our almost 5 year-old still rides with training wheels, but I now look forward to teaching her how to bike rather than dreading it. They grow up so fast.
So how does the curry fit in?
After spending all day outside we needed an easy to pull together dinner that would fill all of us up after a strenuous day of biking (and an emotional day for parents). We had just been to the farmer’s market and the store so we were stocked up on local produce. Curry in a hurry to the rescue!
Basically, this curry is just sauteed vegetables with spices, coconut milk, and broth. Throw some rice in the rice cooker (or pull leftovers out of the fridge) and you have dinner on the table in no time. It’s perfect after a long day of biking. And our youngest daughter even helped by being the pot watcher/stirrer.
One of the things I like about curry is that you can add just a little curry paste if you don’t like it too spicy, or a little extra if you like it spicy. To each their own. The grown-ups in our house like it spicy, but we back off a little when we are fixing it for everyone.
Our Vegetable Thai Red Coconut Curry recipe is straight ahead! We hope you enjoy it and we hope you enjoyed our side story about our biking breakthrough. Hopefully, you get to experience many similar moments of pride with your kids. Hold those moments close, they are moments to be cherished.
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