Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ronan Can Dunk!


Ronan had his first graham cracker this New Year's Eve- following the tradition in our household Mom served it with a glass of cold milk.

Step 1: Plunge the cracker into the milk

Step 2: Ensure it's nice and soggy

Amazingly, without any prompting from us, Ronan took his cracker, leaned forward, and gently dunked it in his milk. Delicately, he pulled the soggy cracker out of the liquid and took a slow, deliberate bite. This is exactly how Mom eats her graham crackers, yet she has never had one in front of Ronan before.

Step 3: Daintily... inspect milk coverage

Step 4: Enjoy!

Who knows- perhaps he'll hate mayonnaise and vinegar like Mom as well?

And, of course, a very happy New Year to all of you!

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's A Family Thing...

Nana's three grandkids

Ronan (sort of) kicked his bout of flu to rendezvous with his older cousins for the Christmas holiday. He had a blast, playing with "Du" and "Lulu"; he also loved spending time with Uncles Todd and Danny and Aunties Ala and Melis. It was a great couple of days.

Being the gracious host, Nana kept busy keeping the program moving. Ronan, from time to time, would walk around calling, sometimes even screaming, "Nana! Nana!" when he could not get enough of her attention. It really made me chuckle... I suppose Nana's going to need to give Ronan a little 1:1 time next time she visits.

Thanks to all for making our trip a blast!


Ronan's the only one gullible enough to take a family photo seriously. He'll learn soon enough.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

This One's for You, Auntie Sheila

Playing adult with Auntie She

Yes, we do all love Auntie Sheila, and Ronan does so more than others. In fact Auntie "She" is the only person Ronan will actively seek out to cuddle (in one evening she gets more snuggle time than Mom and me, combined, for a month).

Last weekend Auntie She worked on teaching Ronan to stick his tongue out at the camera, as evidenced above. Believe it or not this approach is more becoming than his squinty-eyed, almost werewolf-like toothy snarl that he does when we ask him to smile.

Thanks, Auntie She. Thanks a lot.


Mom calls Auntie She 'The Baby Whisperer'. I think she secretly bribes the kids.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas morning, 2009

Although Ronan has the flu and thus our travel plans have been put on hold, he wanted to be sure to wish all of you a very warm and merry Christmas. Apparently all of the thoughtful gifts from family and friends, including the pictured guitar, is enough to overcome the malaise from being sick.

Our love to all of you,

Ronan, Mom & Dad

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Baking Holiday Cookies... Ronan Style

For this holiday season Ronan decided to try his hand at making cookies for family and friends. By the end of the process only a handful of the cookies came out edible. This means that most of you will have to settle for a smile, a hug (maybe), and an emphatic, "HI!" from Ronan for your holiday treat. Sorry!

"Yeah, that's my shark-shaped cookie cutter... nothing says 'Happy Holidays' like a streamlined profile behind a mouth full of sharp teeth. I baked them, with love, for you."

The two cookie shapes Ronan seemed to love to use were a shark (we are still scratching our heads as to where we even found that cutter in the first place) and an airplane. If we had a motorcycle, car, or train I'm sure those would also be be on his list of favorites.

Cutting cookies from the rolled dough

Done with the dough, Ronan looks for something (someone?) else to use the rolling pin on

Ronan did an excellent job with the cookie making- very few attempts at eating the raw dough and no (measurable) tantrums the entire time.

A happy baker with Mom, sporting a pink mustache with a batch of cookies ready for baking

Checking in on the baking process, making sure the cookies don't burn

He was fully involved in every step of the process- from mixing the ingredients in the KitchenAid all the way to transferring the cookies on to cooling racks. He even sampled the cookies to make sure they were edible (with mixed results). His favorite part of the process was rolling of the dough and cutting the cookies- it was the most 'hands-on' and the flour made things nice and messy.

Always wise to have someone else test the cookie quality first

We had a great time doing it- hopefully next year we will be more productive with our efforts!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Holiday Celebration with Grandma and Grandpa

A happy boy with Mr. & Mrs. Claus

Grandma and Grandpa came to town this past weekend bearing gifts, hugs, and lots of laughs. June was the las time Ronan saw them but all three were quick to pick up where they left off. He even remembered 'Bandit', Grandma & Grandpa's youngest Brittney Spaniel.

"Hey Grandma, check out my cheese!"

up you go...

In addition to just enjoying time together, Ronan played hide & seek w/Grandma and showed her his favorite spots in the house. Grandpa made Ronan laugh uncontrollably by singing a cancan tune accompanied with wide arm gesticulations. Ronan liked it so much that he stripped to his diaper and danced to the tune.

...you put your right foot in...

...you put your right hand out...

In all it was a great visit and Ronan has some excellent loot to prove it. He loves his new uber-soft frog pillow, underwater puzzle, and book about an elephant seal pup. Happy holidays, Grandma & Granpa!


Ronan's new cuddle toy- any name suggestions?

Hugs and scrapers, that's what Ronan's all about

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ronan's Festival of Lights

Happy Chanukah!

Last week Ronan had the pleasure of celebrating his first evening of Chanukah thanks to some good friends. In addition to the traditional lighting of the Menorah we indulged in delicious meal. Notably tasty were the latkes (a fried potato pancake) although Ronan showed his appreciation for sausages by eating two-and-a-half of them.

Ronan also made off with a flashy new toy- a model of a modern surf wagon (boards included). At the dinner table, he liked to watch the dreidel being spun and enjoyed blowing a candle out. His favorite part, though, was simply spending time with Sam and Emily as they showed him fun activity after fun activity. He was also impressed by Charmander, the resident bearded dragon.

Many thanks to Uncle Sandy, Auntie Janet, "Zam" and "Emma" for a delightful and treat filled night!

Friday, December 18, 2009

An Hour at the Pier

A long, wet runway makes for a happy boy

This past weekend rain, wind, and big seas came to the northern California coast. We took Ronan to the Pacifica Pier, a spot popular with local fishermen who drop lines in the ocean hoping for a tasty catch.

A gull about to light on the rail of the pier

Like most children Ronan loved to splash in puddles and chase birds- he was also curious about the crabs the fishermen were catching. The crashing sounds of large waves made him curious, though the shaking of the pier seemed to not bother him a bit.

A hovering flock of hungry seagulls follow Ronan while he chases a pigeon


The day's catch, benefiting from an aerator to keep an acceptable level of O2 in the small cooler

After braving an hour of cold, wet wind Ronan's mitten-covered hands started to tremble. We headed back to the car for a cozy change of clothes and a warm meatball sub from Columbos deli.


Peering (pun intended!) through a crack to watch the large waves crash below

Monday, December 14, 2009

The End of Ronan's Modeling Career...

Warm chocolate chip cookies can buy off a litre of tears...

... and the beginning of his wizarding one. Yes, many parents impose their biases upon their kids; for Mom it's her attempt to make our lovable little guy shun appealing aesthetics for a world of magic. Just last week she provided the proper environment for Ronan to split his forehead by bashing it against a slate step in our backyard. To her credit, it worked! Now Ronan has a nice little gash a la Harry Potter. To make sure the scar stays, Mom and Auntie Janet used super-glue to close the wound rather than take the time to stitch it. Meaning? The scarring should be prominent for decades to come.

Nice job Mom, better hope Ronan does not turn out to be a muggle!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rancho Siempra Verde


Don't let all that orange distract you from the fact that Ronan is indeed driving a tractor


Welcome to RSV. The orange sign = win. 'nough said.

Getting a Christmas tree should always be fun; sadly, this is not the norm. Some people hastily grab a tree (along with the weekly groceries) at the supermarket, others the local nursery, or some pull the plastic tree out of the attic, dust it off, and grumblingly assemble it (here's looking at you, Nana). Many people approach this annual event as a chore.

Ronan's happy march back to the car, our tree in hand

Fortunately for Ronan, a colleague of Mom's has owned a coastal ranch near Pescadero for over 45 years. At Rancho Siempra Verde find-and-cut-yourself trees are available for the holiday season, as well as pre-made and make-it-yourself wreaths. Really, though, getting a tree and wreath is just an excuse to make a visit.

Soaring over the ranch in a toddler swing

What makes this place so special? The people who staff it and it's serene location, for sure, but it's the fun activities available to families make it a great way to spend a few hours. As Uncle 'S' noted during our time at RSV, "This is the most low-tech fun I've had in years."

Yes, giant xylophones (even those out of tune) are a blast

What activities? To start with, there is a roaring bonfire coupled with plenty of marshmallows to keep you both warm and hyper. A half dozen large tree swings and a couple of tire swings are perfectly suited for the adventurous.

For young kids, in addition to friendly dogs, hay, and lots of places to explore, there are a handful of Little Tykes Cozy Coupe to putt around in.

Less impressive in some ways than the tractor, but it does have a door, a roof, and a wreath, so there's that

A highlight of the trip for Ronan (and me) was not just riding but *driving* a tractor around the parking lot. Instead of boasting the predicted wild grin and cackling of elation, Ronan was serious and focused on making sure the tractor was piloted safely. A surprising but fortunate development indeed. One week later Ronan still recounts the story of him being behind the wheel.

The tractor, post marshmallow snack

So, for those of you in the Bay Area (or even those visiting), next December RSV should be on your list of must-visit spots for weekend fun.


The three (three-and-one-half?) of us loving the swing at the top of the hill

Monday, December 7, 2009

Air Travel on the Cheap!

Short on cash? Tired of of that squirming toddler on your lap? Are the glares of hatred from fellow passengers making you self-conscious? Are you just wanting a moment of peace, even if it is in a malfunctioning, cattle-car-coach-class seat?

The solution is simple- put your child in a suitcase! It's easy and only costs you one carry-on bag. In fact, make it a game... kids love to play hide and seek. They also like cozy, warm spaces. Constant vibration lulls them to sleep. With any luck they'll forget about the game and nap all the way to your destination.

Step 1- carefully pack child into roller suitcase. Be careful not to catch skin or hair in the zipper

Step 2: Use the wheeled luggage to roll your little one to the gate. It's that simple!

This really is the best of all worlds. Don't sweat the TSA- they missed 75% of fake bomb parts in LAX... getting a kid through should be a breeze. A low-iron diet for your child might help.

For an added bonus, take the child out of the suitcase at the gate, show him off to pre-board, and stuff him back in on the ramp to the plane. And no need for a carseat- in the off-chance you do get pulled over the officer will never think to check your luggage.

Happy, safe travels this holiday season!

Play a game of "gopher" and have your child pop his head out of the bag periodically

P.S. Thanks to Aunti E for the photos!
P.P.S. This entire post, as well as much of this blog, is satire. Please do not take it seriously. At least the part about a low-iron diet. I doubt that will help much.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Harbinger for Things to Come?

It's probably not the number "8" that he's excited about

What brings your child joy? For ours it's motorized vehicles... the faster the better. Ronan has an undeniable attraction to cars and motorcycles, be them real or toys.

Well... at least he's happy wearing a helmet. A rare but notable victory for Mom.

When Ronan notices a motorcycle driving he always points out three key things:
  1. The wheels go around (he makes a big circular motion with his index finder extended)
  2. The noise ('brr, brr, brr'... it's the sound of a Harley. He has yet to get the pitch right for a Ducati 848 superbike, but we're working on it)
  3. The fact the rider is wearing a 'hemmet' (accompanied with Ronan patting his head)

Bad Boy Ronan- our crass little guy wagging his tongue and flipping people the bird when behind the wheel of his race car. Yes, he makes us very proud.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dancing... a Thanksgiving Tradition?

That's right- Ronan can bust a mean 'funky chicken'

Most families have holiday traditions- when I was growing up there was the fruity jello mold (thanks Cindy!), the post meal walk, and of course a fight over the wishbone.

The traditions give us a sense of time, of importance, and of family. That said, Ronan seems intent on establishing his own new and goofy Thanksgiving tradition- cutting the rug.

Auntie Sheila and Ronan both giving props

Yes, Ronan was the primary instigator of what will likely be an annual post-turkey-meal activity- not snoozing... grooving. This year Grammy took the signal from Ronan, queued up Pirate Radio '60s edition, and the dancing took off. Poppa tried to sit out a few songs but Ronan kept going over, grabbing his hand, and pulling him back into the dance circle.

Nothing but admiration for Grammy's moves

By the time we got the camera ready most of the adults were tired out- only Grammy (aka the Energizer Bunny) and Ronan were still going strong. The next day, during our T-Day+1 festivities, Ronan did the same thing with a group of our close friends. Whenever someone tried to sit on a couch or lounge in a chair Ronan would walk over, grab their hand, and pull them back into the fray. Yep, it's dancing that we will be looking forward to for years to come!

One Little Monkey, Sitting in a Tree

"Look Dad, no hands!"

Every day Ronan does something new- today was his turn to try his hand at climbing trees. Behind our house is a small trail that eventually winds through a long forgotten grove of olive trees.

Showing off the 'lean'

Old olive trees are great to climb- grippy bark, low branches, lots of forks and plenty of shade. And for Ronan the limbs these trees were not too large for little hands to hold.

A happy little boy in a tree

I was surprised at his ability to maintain his balance in the tree (while I snapped a few photos), and relieved that he did not attempt to jump when he got bored. He simply reach out an arm in my direction and said, "down!"


"Huh. Perhaps it is best that I don't jump... yet."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just a Couple of Words...


Yes, it is a very stylish hat

During a walk this past weekend Ronan said a few of his words for the video camera. We're not really sure how many words he has, but he can repeatably say 'turtle', 'Mama', 'Dada', 'Papa', and 'Nana'. He is deliberately not saying 'grammy' as a way to continue to tease her.

His commands 'up', 'down', 'no, no, no, no, no!' are also clear and, at times, over used!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coyote Point Museum



View of Coyote Point Yacht Harbor

This past weekend we took Ronan to Coyote Point Recreational Area, a county park in San Mateo that boasts a marina, miles of hiking trails, a mammoth playground structure, windsurfing/kiteboarding, cyclocross racing, excellent views of airliners in the approach path for SFO, and a delightful little museum. We spent our day exploring the museum with the attached 'zoo'.

Are koi tasty?

A giant game of Lite-Brite

Skinky...

Highlights for Ronan included meeting a skink, playing with wind tubes, watching a river otter swim, touching a California Mountain Kingsnake, investigating an indoor bee hive, exploring the heavens, and learning about vortices.

"Hmm... this fan needs more juice"

Fascinated by the otter's swimming dexterity

"Sweet. We could use this for Halloween next year..."

Really, though, Ronan was happiest running up and down the long, smooth, wooden ramps (by himself at first, and then joined by other little children) and then later organizing the little cars sold in the gift shop.

What Ronan loved most- the 'thunk, thunk, thunk' of his footsteps as he ran up and down the ramps

The Coyote Point Museum is a great place to take curious and adventurous kids. Even if they tire of the exhibits, there is plenty of outdoor activities to keep young ones occupied and happy for the day.


Who? Hoo!