Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fun With Mechanisms, Part 2: Lever-Style Door Handle

Door Lever Actuation!

Yes, Ronan has mastered the easiest of the four types of doorknobs in our home, the level-style handle. Thankfully, we only have one door of this type, and it's a door that stays open most of the time anyway.

Ronan has been observing how we open and close doors for some time now, but it's only in the past few days where he has finally combined the height, balance (he needs to stand on his tip toes), and dexterity to achieve lever-actuation success. At first it was a struggle, putting all of these pieces together, but now he can open doors effortlessly.

This raises the urgency for putting up more safety gates, as Ronan's mastery of the other door handle types is soon to follow!

The Grab & Depress- Start Up on the Toes

The Swing Open While Stumbling Backwards

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Joy of Eric Carle

It's easy to see why Eric Carle books appeal to Ronan- bright colorful images, simple shapes, repetition, and concise text. Four of Mr. Carle's books are currently at the top of Ronan's weekly reading list.

Enjoying a Carle book with Ronan is certain to have precious moments. For example, while reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Ronan leans down to kiss the "White Dog, White Dog" illustration (Ronan loves most animals, especially dogs). Brown Bear is also the first book Ronan sat still for from cover to cover- no small feat considering his abbreviated attention span.

Ronan always spends time looking for the protagonist in The Very Hungry Caterpiller, especially on the opposite page next to the fun punch holes.

The crinkly sound made by turning the acetate pages of Mister Seahorse always give Ronan a chuckle, and he delights in finding the Lionfish camouflaged amongst a coral reef. Finally, Grammy and Poppa have Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? waiting for Ronan at their house just in case we forget to pack his favorite books.

The next time Ronan toddles to his library (a blue plastic bucket that is in his play area) and selects his book for story time, chances are that it will be filled with the fun illustrations of Eric Carle.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Visit to Grandma and Grandpa's

Grandma & Grandpa, at the San Simeon Pier

Two weekends ago we packed up the car and headed south to Grandma & Grandpa's house in the little coastal hamlet of Cambria. This was our longest family car ride to date, yet Ronan handled it superbly, napping for most of our time in the auto.

I wish I could do this on plane flights...

Needless to say, all five of us (plus the three dogs) had a great time. Ronan enjoyed learning about elephant seals, but he reveled frolicking in the sand and the Pacific. He divided his beach time between running into the waves and playing with mini construction equipment; when he was hungry he'd scavenge a piece of kelp and have a seaweed snack (seriously. And Mom was watching).

Moving & Mixing Dirt!

En route to deeper water...

After the day at the beach, we returned in time for Ronan to play a game of "chase" and "squeeky toy keep-away" with Bandit, the other 1-year old in the house. Both youngsters, by early evevning, were fast alseep, resting from an exhausting but fun filled day.

Bandit, fast asleep after playing with Ronan

In all, it was a great trip filled with laughs, and we look forward to do it again soon. Thanks Grandma & Grandpa!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Put 'em to Work Young!

All he needs is an earring & a shaved head... our little Mr. Clean

A few months ago we noted that Ronan had a certain penchant for sweeping; he's now moved on to scrubbing the floor after he's put away the broom. What a delightful surprise that Ronan seems to be doing what his parents have, at least for the first 35 years of their lives, refused to do- clean.

The photos above were taken when Ronan came across a sponge left on the floor. Per his normal behavior I had just assumed he'd stick it in his mouth and then wander on to whatever was next on his list of sparkley things to investigate. Much to my surprise, after turning the sponge over in his hands a few times, he bent down and starting wiping the floor with it. Then he stood up, moved onto another section of the floor he deemed in need of attention, squatted again, and repeated his scrubbing. Our tidy little fourteen-month-old... we just couldn't be more proud. Looks like he is taking after Grammy and Nanna already!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Friday for the Fellas

Learning about sand near a lighthouse in Santa Cruz

Last week Grammy had a date with some old friends so I took Friday off of work to care for Ronan. Days like Friday, when it's just us guys, are a real treat. It's our opportunity to be boys; we get dirty and stay that way, we eat whatever whenever, and we don't concern ourselves about a strict adherence to "schedules" or "routines". Every once in a while it feels good to break a rule or two.

For this "Guys Day", the sun was out so we headed south to the beach in Santa Cruz. The original plan was to hit the rides & games of the boardwalk, but we passed an irresistible beach with dozens of homemade kites fluttering in the wind so we decided to stop and give it a go.

Demonstrating a proper splay of fingers and toes

Doing so was an excellent choice. Ronan reveled in the sand, burying his hands and toes in it. He learned the words "sailboat" and "lighthouse"; he also learned that chasing a seagull, especially in sand, is a tough thing to be successful at. Mostly, though, he spent hours trying to run into the ocean, with me chasing him, swinging him up over the waves right before he crashed into them, and only letting him get dunked a couple of times in the process. The only minor damage was some chaffing from the sand... and this was due to excessive application of sunscreen for fear of Mom's wrath if he came home a bright shade of pink.

Who needs clothes anyway? Laying out shirt & pants to dry in the sun

After the long day at the beach, Ronan napped on the way home (he was even snoring... it was very cute) and we finished the day playing at his favorite park in Palo Alto. Two more firsts- an unsupervised stint on the teeter totter and some assisted, stomach-churning spinning on a rotational momentum seat. After lots of laughs, plenty of sun, and no visible signs of damage, we packed up our toys and headed back to welcome Mom home from work.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Pain in the...

The warm Northern California sunshine, a full kiddie pool, a delightful deck, and a cute, active little naked boy. What could possibly ruin this idealized May afternoon?

Splinter removal, one at a time

Splinters, that's what. More specifically, a few dozen of them, all embedded in the poor naked boy's bum. That's right- Ronan's posterior bore the brunt of his determined yet oft-falling exploration of our redwood deck. Of course his hands, feet, and knees suffered too, but it seems that dual-purpose diaper/fall cushion has conditioned Ronan to plop down heedlessly whenever his balance failed.

It was strangely similar to when Ronan's Uncle Todd, decades ago, jumped (also while naked, but he was almost 10 years old at the time) into a prickly pear cactus. I remember chuckling whilst listening to the agonized pleas to stop the spine removal. Schadenfreude!

Uncle Todd, twenty years after pioneering nude cacus diving, at his Hooding ceremony. You've come a long way T!

If you have never removed splinters from a one-year-old's buttocks before, I can only say that it is a memorable experience. The command, "hold still" has to be accompanied by overwhelming force (parent #1) with helpless (hapless?) fishing for slivers with a needle & tweezers (parent #2). If you get one, it's beginner's luck. Two removed and you're a certified professional. Three and you've got dexterity more impressive than a neurosurgeon. You also have an innate hatred of children. I doubt there is anyone foolhardy or cold enough to attempt four... that would require the impossible combination of pig-headed determination, adroit fingers, no pulse, and total deafness. We gave up after removing two of the larger splinters... eventually the forty or so remaining fell out on their own. Lesson learned, I suppose.

The new, OSHA-approved bathing uniform