Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Next Stop, Civic Center

In a stroke of luck, this morning I was able to share my commute into San Francisco with Ronan, Mom, and Poppa. Rather than driving, we headed into the city on BART, the local train services for those in (a portion of) the greater Bay Area. Dressed in his warm, made-for-a-San Francisco-summer jacket (thanks Uncle Greg!), Ronan's first ride on public transit was one to remember. Even with his strengthening cold and mild fever it was obvious that Ronan was having a blast, enjoying the new sights & noises, the unusual movements, and the increasing number of people crowding the train cars.

Some Commute Notables
  • Ronan's persistent attempts at eye contact with other passengers violated the golden "all transit users must socially withdrawal" rule
  • 25% of all passengers on the train had iPods; some have the volume set to what must be deafening levels. Ronan happily rocked out to a metal track played by a passenger standing 10 feet away.
  • Ronan watched with fascination all of the interesting things whizzing past the windows
  • Ronan's tolerance for schedule deviation is minimal. Due to a "medical emergency" our train was delayed 10 mins... Ronan commented by pointing to the door and grunting with frustration.
  • Ronan ran into Uncle Mikey while exiting his destination stop... and he was wearing an orange jacket as well!
  • Ronan got to sit on Pappa's lap, press his little nose against the train window, and see his breath condensate on the glass
  • Chances are our little "disease vector" transmitted his pathogen to another 50 people. Always wash your hands after riding on public transit.
I wish all trips were this fun and captivating for Ronan; I suppose novelty has it's benefits!

Uncle Mikey validates his claims of Scottish ancestry...

"Sweet! Blowfish!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

1 Day, 14,044 Toddling Steps

The Final Results...

I was lingering in bed one Saturday morning, listening to Ronan and Mom play in an adjacent room. First I noticed the giggles and sing-song talking (grunting from Ronan), then the occasional "thump" or "crash" of Ronan doing something damaging to himself/something else/both. But what seemed to stand out after listening for five minutes was the incessant "pat-pat-pat, pat-pat-pat" cadence of Ronan's little footsteps.

I listened a while longer and was amazed that his walk-run-walk gait never let up. Ronan's perpetual motion reminded me of a fish or shark that needed to continuously swim to get a steady supply of oxygen over it's gills. Ronan's little feet seem to never stop moving.

Instrumentation... placement was critical to prevent removal

So we decided to measure exactly that. How many steps, really, does Ronan take during a day? $10 got us a pair of pedometers, one for Ronan (subject) and one for me (control). The next Saturday Ronan and I wore the pedometers whenever we were moving (not for naps, bath, changing, etc) and the results were interesting.

Ronan: 14,044, Dad: 5,631. He almost tripled my step count, and this with his day (time not sleeping) being 10 hours compared with my 17. And my 5,631 also included a 30 min jog during Ronan's nap. Of his 10 hours awake, at last 2 of them are spent confined in a highchair (attempts at feeding) or in a carseat (or bike trailer). There is also an hours worth of reading/down time where Ronan is sitting. So really, there are 7 hours of mobility in his day, meaning he averages 2,000 steps per hour. Put another way, when free to do what he pleases, every other second Ronan decides to take a step. If I tried to keep that rate myself, I too would need a daily 14 hours of sleep.

10,241, 10, 242, 10,243...

Steps counted while carried by Mom are ineligible

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ronan's Alphabet Book

The book...

Auntie Allison and Uncle Danny, along with cousins Drew and Lexi, lovingly made an Alphabet Book for Ronan's first Christmas. What is an alphabet book? This one is a large scrapbook with each page dedicated to a letter of the alphabet. Included are photographs or drawings of nouns (and a couple of verbs) that begin with the pages subject letter.

Looking for "wheel"

It's more than just something to read- Ronan's Alphabet Book has become a staple in his daily routine. When he is finished with his meal (he tells us by signing "all done"), we excuse him to walk over and "read" his Alphabet Book. He spends a few minutes flipping through the pages and pointing out the images or colors that interest him.

"Best Man" and "Brothers"

What is his favorite letter? It's probably too early to tell, but "M" receives a disproportionate amount of his time. That's probably due to pictures of "motorcycle", "monkey", and his cousin Drew "mowing" the lawn on that page. However, "B" ("bicycle", "beach", "ball", "batting", "brother", "boys") has been increasing page views steadily.

Turning the page...

Finding "P" for the "policeman" in his hand!

The Alphabet Book is such a fun part of Ronan's learning process; a very big *thank you* to Auntie Ala, Uncle Danny, and of course Drew and Lexi for such a thoughtful gift!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chalk Talk

Trying out sidewalk chalk

They say old habits die hard, and it seems that despite our best efforts, it's just about impossible to break Ronan's cleaning habit. Mom even tried to get Ronan excited about sidewalk chalk in the hopes that fun of making a mess would overpower his desire to clean.

And at first it was working- he would mimic our movements and lay a few random lines of chalk on the concrete. But after a couple of minutes Ronan got up, pushed open the door to the kitchen, walked inside (mind you he typically throws a tantrum when you take him in... he *never* voluntarily goes inside), finds a sponge, and comes back out to wipe the chalk off of the walkway. I could hardly believe it.

"I know what we need..."

"Let's get this mess cleaned up!"

It's impossible to explain, but the only rational explanation is that Grammy's cleanliness lessons are starting to stick. An amazing feat indeed. Thanks Grammy!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In the Right Bol Park

Two story slides, a tire swing, a small creek, and a sandbox; what more could you want from a neighborhood park?

"Do you know what nemesis means?"

Like Rocky Balboa with a bucket hat, only much shorter.

Goats, that's what. If you're into that, I'd suggest some chickens as well. And why not donkeys? Not just your garden variety donkey either, how about a miniature one, in fact the very model used by Dreamworks for Donkey in Shrek?

Much more approachable than the goat

Yes, Bol Park boasts all that plus a great swath of green grass for the kids to run wild on. Ronan had a blast, enjoying all of it... and he even weathered a butt from an ornery goat admirably. In all, it was a delightful way to spend a warm Sunday afternoon.

Still uneasy about the butting, nasty goat

Monday, July 13, 2009


"'Emergency Call'.... I wonder what that does?"

Sure, Ronan's first love are vehicles & heavy machinery (bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, etc) but he can still geek out on electronic gear with the best of them. He's done video chats with friends and relatives across the globe, he knows how to (sort of) work in iPod, and loves to check the on-camera histogram of the images we take of him.

But it seems that his favorite way to engage the electronic world is through mobile phones & smart hand held devices. Ronan has sent several text messages to unsuspecting members of Mom's contact list and has even called a few of them. He's particularly fond of my new Android G2 phone; I'm not sure if it's the bright screen or that it's it's lightweight, but if he sees it laying around he's sure to immediately snatch it.

Texting on the go... taking advantage of the "mobile" in mobile phones

It's funny to watch him wander around with it, stumbling and bumping into things, paying attention to nothing except his determined attempt to get the buttons on the "chin" to do something interesting. Rarely will he sit down or stand still while using it- perhaps he thinks he's an easier target for gadget re-appropriation if he is stationary?

Someday soon, I'm afraid, Ronan may very well be the protagonist in a YouTube video.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

You Spin Me Right 'Round

Getting Ready to Spin- Fun!

Ronan's favorite playground activities change; first it was swings, then slides, followed by teeter-totters, and now it's the "how could this possibly be fun?" spinning seats. Ronan gets his "dizzy on" by rotating himself silly on these contraptions. The three lobed seat is his favorite- when he gets too dizzy to maintain balance, he can lie backwards and let the spinning continue.

Building Angular Momentum

Dizziness is Starting...

Balance is Fading...

And Poof! Down Ronan Goes...

We are not sure why he enjoys it- when he finally falls off his little eyes twitch from side to center, side to center in an attempt to correct for the previous spinning state. He inevitably tries to walk but immediately lists to one side and crashes. Though delirious and unsteady Ronan giggles the entire time.

We are fortunate he has not fully grasped the concept of angular momentum, nor the fact that he has the ability to change his moment of inertia. When he does discover pulling hands and feet in close to the axis of rotation increases his angular velocity, I'm concerned it will lead to high speed ejections of Ronan from the contraption. I just hope it will be to a soft landing.

Serene Love... of a Spinning Platform

"Ugh, I'm not Feeling So Hot"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Nanna, Mitchell Park, and a Car Full of Smiles

Nanna Watching Ronan Playing with Water Spouts

Last weekend Nanna & Uncle Todd made a long car trip up to visit; though the stay was short Ronan had a blast. He is becoming self-aware; when he gets the opportunity, he likes to show off his skills to a new audience. For instance, he ran some sprints for Nanna, showed her a couple of his signs ("more", "please", "all done"), and wooed her with his vast truck knowledge when they read the book she brought him.

Ronan & Laurin in their Element

What made the visit especially fun was a day playing amongst the water jets at Mitchell Park in mid-town Palo Alto. Ronan fearlessly chased the water spurting from the ground, trying to catch the little geysers mid spout. He relished blocking the jets of water and would patiently wait for the water to shoot out of the little holes in the ground. Though soaked through and shivering cold he could not be pulled away from the fun. Unfortunately, on several occasions, he would look directly at the temporarily dormant valve, only to get an eye full of water when the squirting resumed. Next time we will bring goggles!

This Baby's Got Horsepower!

Mitchell Park also has a fun car-themed wooden play set, complete with seats and a steering wheel. Ronan was able to get some driving lessons in and his best friend Laurin was a brave co-pilot, helping Ronan shift into the proper gear. Although the "vehicle" was stationary, Ronan relished being behind the wheel. We are in for some interesting parental challenges when he turns 16. Here's to hoping for fully automated personal transit devices by then.

"He's Going the Distance, He's Going for Speed..." - Cake

After lots of playing, some good food, and only a small amount of sleep, Nanny and Uncle Todd headed back south. It's clear Ronan misses them, but he'll be seeing Nanna again later in the summer. If he's lucky, she'll let him play in her fountain. If he's *really* lucky, she'll let him drive her car. As long as he's in his car seat that is properly attached per the manufacturers instructions, I have no objections.