How to choose a balance bike for your kids

Encouraging kids to become athletic and enjoy the outdoors is great for their development and well-being. Riding bikes, for example, is an enjoyable activity that promotes healthy living and exercise. If you’re planning to teach your kids how to ride a bike, then it’s time to consider choosing a balance bike for your kids.

Before allowing kids to actually use a regular bike, it’s best to let them find their balance first with the help of a balance bike. If you haven’t heard of them before, balance bikes have replaced training wheels and tricycles. From the name itself, this type of bike helps kids to learn how to balance. It looks like a typical bike except that it doesn’t have any pedals. But you will be amazed to see that after a brief amount of time, your kid is ready to move up to a regular bike and ride it without any assistance.

Not all balance bikes fit every child. This is why you need to consider these things before making your purchase. The size is on top of the list because it is the most important thing you have to consider. The size includes the size of the tires and the height of the seat. Most balance bikes have 12-inch tires. But if your kid is taller than most kids his/her age, you can go for the 14-inch or 16-inch tires. The height of the seat will greatly affect how comfortable your child is when riding a balance bike. You will know that the bike fits the child if his/her feet are flat on the ground while he/she is seated, the knee is bent slightly, and he/she is able to push off the ground while in a sitting position.

Because bike frames are made from different materials, it is best to choose one that does not weigh more than 30% of your child. Your child should be able to easily maneuver the bike. Don’t go for a bike that has too many features since this will add to the bike’s weight. There should also be enough room between the seat and the handlebars as well as have a small gap between the rear tire and the seat. This is so the child could extend their legs properly and for easy balance and control.

There are different types of tires but what you should look for is one that has good traction on different types of surfaces. You will find air, foam, rubber, plastic, and big apple tires for balance bikes, with air tires being the best.

Having hand brakes will help your child to safely stop and prepare them for riding a regular bike. While most kids simply hold out their feet after pushing off, there are balance bikes that have footrests. This allows your child to place their feet on the footrest instead of holding them out while gliding. If you choose to have one, make sure that it is properly designed in such a way that it isn’t located in the middle. Instead, the footrest should be somewhere near the back where the child can rest his/her heels while riding. Most balance bikes, however, do not have footrests.

A bike’s frame can either be made from metal alloys such as steel or aluminum, wood, and composite frames. Metal, in particular, steel, is the most commonly used frame. However, this results to a heavier bike and tends to rust. If you want one that is lightweight, strong, and rust-proof, aluminum alloy is the best choice. A wooden balance bike is also a popular choice for being environment-friendly, lightweight, easy to use, and has a simple design.

For additional protection, choose a balance bike that has a rubber handgrip with a knobby end or protective bumpers. This will protect your kids’ hands when they run into various types of objects as well as protect their hands from hitting the ground if they fall.

With this information on hand, you will surely be able to pick out a balance bike that is suited for your child. And with how fast they’ll learn how to balance, you can definitely say that purchasing a balance bike was worth it.

The Value of a Photograph?

Family photographs were once something to be put into family albums, to be shared with friends and relatives, and to be pulled out at embarrassing times once your children are grown up and dating. (You know exactly what I’m talking about – the naked ones on the change mat!!!). But these days were are less likely to print out our photographs, and are growing more and more wary of sharing them online. Do we now value our family photographs less than we did in the past?

We can share our photographs so much easier these days, Instagram is hugely popular, as is Snapchat, and Facebook still has the capacity for us to create album after album. Yet, In order to take a closer look at how we now value photographs and to find out how much we worry about their reach in the online world, www.cartridgesave.co.uk asked 1040 people aged over 18: “Are you happy sharing photos of your children online?”

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I share some family photographs on my Instagram feed.

The results were surprising. Despite living in times when oversharing seems to be the norm, and life doesn’t seem to be happening unless it has an online footprint, the results found that 83% of parents who responded to the survey were wary of sharing photos of their children online, while just 17% were fine with it.  There are worries about photographs being stolen and used for insavoury purposes. Even photo storing and secure accounts have been hacked, with high profile stars like Jennifer Lawrence falling victim. It’s no wonder that although we seem to want to share, we are wary and uneasy about possible consequences. (You can read more about the survey here.)

Speaking about the study, Ian Cowley, Managing Director of Cartridge Save said:

“Our lives are now lived online; it’s a culture to take tens, if not hundreds of photos a day and share them with friends, family and strangers – what we’re doing, what we’re eating, where we are. It seems that photographs, now that they are no longer limited by cost, are rarely printed and kept safe so have lost their value and become worthless to us – they can always be deleted and replaced with another, better, selfie or snap of your meal.”

He continued with a warning:

“Despite assurances of online safety, once photographs are shared online, their reach is no longer in your hands. Even if they are deleted from a social site shortly after being uploaded, or even if you upload them to an account that it set to be private, the photos will already be backed up in servers around the world that may be vulnerable to hacking.”

 

Despite all this, I still can’t see us going back to a time of photo albums. I love flicking through old photographs, but have you actually tried to buy a nice album recently? They are getting harder and harder to find, and more and more expensive. The answer may be that we have albums on our laptops, smart phones and ipads that we keep all to ourselves, only sharing impersonal snaps on our online outlets.

What do you think?

Alexandra Burke shines in Sister Act

It is a beloved movie, and with Whoopi Goldberg as the lead, there are some serious shoes to fill. But Alexandra Burke last night proved that not only does she have an incredible voice, but she is also a comic natural as she took on the role of Dolores Von Cartier in ‘Sister Act’ at the Wolverhampton Grand. Directed by Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, the show was an absolute hoot, a real crowd pleaser with brilliant performances from the whole cast, and non more brilliant that the pocket diva in the lead. Alexandra is Dolores, and Dolores is a total star.

‘Sister Act’ follows the same story as the film. Dolores Von Cartier is waiting for her married lover, nightclub boss and Hoodlum Curtis, to make her a music star in the vein of her heroine Donna Summer. It’s Christmas 1977 and the future looks bright, but then Dolores witnesses Curtis kill one of his fellow hoodlums and flees to the police, meeting an old school friend who is now a cop, ‘sweaty’ Eddie. Dolores is put into a protection in the one place that the police think Calvin would never look, a Catholic church and convent under the care of the Mother Superior. There Dolores first of all struggles, but once put in charge of the choir she finds her true calling. But making the choir a media sensation is not the best idea, and Dolores is soon back in Curtis’s firing line. Will the church and Dolores be saved?

As Dolores, Alexandra Burke is sharp, sassy and oh so funny. A little bird told me that she was afraid she wouldn’t be funny, but she is a comic natural, her timing is perfect, and she can raise laughs from her mannerisms, her looks and gestures, particularly when she is dancing in her nun’s garbs. She has so many standout moments, from telling the Mother Superior how she has prayed for a white fur like Donna Summer, to heading to the local bar with a raft of fellow nuns in tow. Her musical performances are what you would expect from a consummate pop performer, particularly great on ‘Take me to Heaven’ a song which recurs throughout the show and is surely a lost Donna Summer number.

While Alexandra is the star, the supporting roles are pitch perfect too. Karen Mann is funny and likeable as the Mother Superior who just wants things to go back to normal, and has quite a liking for red wine. The Nuns are all brilliant, with Sarah Goggin showing the voice of an angel as Sister Mary Robert, the youngest and most vulnerable of the Sister’s. Aaron Lee Lambert is a suitably villainous Curtis, playing the role firmly tongue-in-cheek as a sort of Barry White/Richard Roundtree from Shaft hybrid, and supported brilliantly by a trio of cartoonish hoodlums Pablo (Ricky Rojas), Joey (Samuel Morgan-Grahame) and TJ (Sandy Grigelis). They bring the house down with their ‘Let’s get it on’ style song ‘Lady in the Long Black Dress’ which is hilariously sleezy.

The cast is nicely rounded out by Tim Maxwell Clarke as Monsignor O Hara, a sympathetic, forward thinking character with a taste for disco, and the brilliantly lovely Joe Vetch as Eddie. Shy and nervous, but with a John Travolta fighting to get out, Vetch’s ‘I could be that guy’ is another standout song, with a performance chorused by drunks and down and outs – total madness, very funny.

Sister Act takes all the best of the disco era, the music, the disco balls, Donna Summer, faux fur and FM boots (watch and see), and then combines this with nuns – who knew that would prove to be a perfect combination? The ultimate feelgood story is a musical with a lot of hear and soul, and a whole lot of belly laughs.

Must see.

Sister Act

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Tue 28 Feb – Sat 4 Mar

Click here for Ticket information.