31 October 2014

Learning to Ride

At the end of last summer we got rid of Isa's little bike.  She'd outgrown it for sure, plus the brakes were a mess.  Sylvia, in the spring, found a good bike the next size up for super cheap and so we were all set to make that big jump to really riding, no training wheels. All of us except Isa.  She was not in any hurry to conquer this challenge.  She did agree to give it a try so we went to the neighborhood school parking lot a couple evenings in the summer and got our first taste of it.  There were a couple very brief glimpses that she might be getting it, but they were very very brief.  And she just wasn't feeling it...and I'm not talking about balance.  I'm talking about the desire to ride.  She was perfectly fine with never learning to ride a bike, a fact that she told me more than once.  A couple months go by and finally I get her outside on the bike trail in front of our house and we work on it some more.  Still nothing.  And more frustration than ever.  Frustration at not getting it, mainly.  And some frustration with being pushed to do it, I suppose.  A couple episodes of that and, thinking back to something I'd read on the internet, I decide to take the pedals off the bike.  The thinking is that, by taking the pedals off, the rider can push them self along and work on coasting, finding their balance, and start to feel like they are powering and guiding the bike instead of just going for a ride while I provide the momentum and control.
This proved to be the secret.  It didn't happen immediately, but very quickly I could start to see that she was beginning to feel where the balance point is and was fighting to stay there.  And the coasts started to go from inches to feet to yards and once that happened it all started progressing very quickly.  Suddenly she had it and could coast all the way down the decline at the trail head, maybe 50 yards, without putting her feet down.  And once she got that feeling, she LOVED it. At the end of that day she was already asking to put the pedals back on.  So, we did and she started riding a bike.  For real.  From a stop, on a flat surface.  It was super fun to see.  It actually gave me some goosebumps (and Sylvia a few tears). And the great part is now she LOVES that she can ride a bike.  She posted this little achievement statement on her whiteboard in her room. She's always asking if she can go ride it around and when we'll be able to go on rides together.  I'm eager to see how she does as at partnering me when I go for my runs.
That night, when I went to go to bed, there was this sweet little thank you note on my pillow.  No one prompted her to write it, she did it totally on her own.
Click here to see her in action.

20 October 2014

Photo Challenge #3: Doors

Great submissions from all!  Doors are such a distinctive feature and so full of character.












16 October 2014

Christ Our Life conference

Four years ago they held, what I think was, the first Christ Our Life conference here in DSM.  Homebase and I checked out that one and had a super time.  I think there was one two years ago that I did not make it to, but when they announced that Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of NY, would be the keynote speaker at the 2014 conference, I definitely wanted to be there.
We bought our tickets at the gate on Saturday morning and spent an hour or so checking out the vendor displays, then we made our way in and found some seats for opening mass.  That turned out to be tricky as it was a packed Wells Fargo arena so we had to move up into the mezzanine level.  We had a fantastic view of the altar area and the lights, sound, and jumbo video screens made it easy to see and hear.  The entrance processional was great, with a Knights of Columbus color guard, around twenty priests, our current bishop, our bishop emeritus, the cardinal and great music.  I liked a line from the homily from Cardinal Dolan, "This life is but the antipasto before the great banquet in heaven."
After mass the Cardinal returned to a thunderous welcome and gave a fantastic keynote address.  He spoke about how one of the ways that Christ brings himself into our lives is through the Pope, and, what a fantastic group that last three Popes have been.  He spent time talking about what each Pope brought to the church and why that was important.  He categorized them as, Soul - Mind - Heart.  John Paul II brought the soul.  Benedict XVI focused on the mind.  And Francis is addressing the heart.  He is a comfortable, entertaining speaker and shared great historical facts and stories from each man's life.  His recounting of John Paul's tour of Poland (only nine days before he came to Iowa!) in 1979 was very interesting and I made a note to read more on the events there at that time.
I could've listened to him all day.
The next speaker was Fr. Larry Richards and he is an energetic, straight-talking priest who focused his talk on confession.  A definite contrast in styles with Cardinal Dolan, but after I conditioned myself to his manner, I found myself enjoying and appreciating his message.  He had no patience for priests who make confession painful or demeaning.  He also had strong guidance for those seeking penance. Most importantly he talked about ways to make confession not intimidating, ways to remember all your sins (for those who have trouble), and to keep the focus on Christ, not on ourselves while confessing.
When we came out for the noon lunch break, there were people unpacking all sorts of big tailgates and picnics in the parking lot.  They were soaking up the gorgeous weather and having a great time and I thought they were smart to plan ahead and not try and rush around finding a restaurant. 
Even though we only caught two speakers, it was an enriching and fun morning!

14 October 2014

Photo Challenge #3: Doors

Short notice on this one, since I am forgetful.  Photo challenge is DOORS.  I'm eager to see all your interpretations and images.  Get them to me by Sunday night.  Have a great week!

03 October 2014

"Dean's List" from Fr. Neenan

I saw a mention of this by Fr. James Martin and followed it to this nice article about a long-time Boston College administrator and Jesuit priest, Fr. Neenan.  It seems he had been sharing a "Dean's List" of books each year for the past twenty-some years.  27 books and you hold your spot until something he liked better came along, is how I understand it. This site has a list of all the 168 books that have appeared at some point over the years. 
What is it about a book list that is so intriguing?