Monday, August 31, 2009

"You, belong in a zoo, the San Diego Zoo"

... or so the jingle used to go. Whether or not Ronan belonged in the zoo (still TBD), he clearly enjoyed it during our visit. So did Mom, Nana and I- the San Diego Zoo is a world class facility with some exemplary exhibits housing polar bears, giant pandas, Galapagos tortoises, elephants, tigers and hippopotami.

Some highlights from the day:
  • Watching orangutans eat cheerios of the ground with dexterity and furor disconcertingly similar to Ronan
  • Seeing polar bears swim, followed by Ronan kissing their silvery likeness outside the exhibit
  • Hearing the noisy crunching a Gianta Panda makes when eating bamboo
  • Witnessing other parents uncomfortably explain, while hurridly whisking their children to the next exhibit, that the mating Galapagos tortoises were “wrestling”
  • Watching the apparently common Hippo routine of sitting submersed at the bottom of a body of water for up to 5 minutes, surfacing for a couple breaths of air, and then back down to the bottom for more relaxation.
Many thanks to Nana for treating us to such a fun day!

Funny Faces at the Beach

The photo that started it...

The power of imitation is a wonderful thing. Ronan, Mom and I had been enjoying a fun day at the beach with Nico, Alex and their mother Paulette when I paused to take a photograph of Alex. He politely declined, so I told him I was taking “funny faces” portraits and I thought he'd make a perfect subject. To demonstrate how it was done, I exaggerated a frown, took picture of myself, and showed him the snap.

Alex happy to oblige

Once he saw the ridiculous picture Alex let loose and did all sorts of great poses. Nico saw this and improvised his own goofy shots, making a game of it. The three of us were chuckling at our silliness, and along toddled Ronan, also laughing and joining in the fun, and to our amazement he kept wagging his tongue out of his mouth just like Alex and Nico! Nico and I took a few pictures of Ronan and our collection of goofy faces was complete.

Nico perfecting the art

What a great day; Nico and Alex are two exemplary children, though that was to be expected from their exemplary parents. It was a treat sharing a day at the beach with them, and it was fun to see Ronan attempt to emulate the two of them.

And Ronan finishing off the session!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"You'll Catch Him Surfing at Del Mar..."

Safety first- Nana and Ronan inspecting lifeguarding equipment

Just like the big boys: ready, set... and wait for a wave

Ronan loves the beach, and there are few better beaches on the US mainland than those found in San Diego's North County. Nana got a perfect starter "surfboard" for Ronan to fuel his wave riding obsession, so we grabbed it and headed out to the water.

Not much of a clip, but an idea of Ronan's surf 101

Not much prodding or suggestion was needed on our part; after watching surfers ride waves Ronan grabbed his board and did his best to emulate their moves. He would throw the board down, stand on it, and wait for the water to come it to float him. It was hilarious to watch him do it. It was even funnier (more concerning?) that after a couple of tries he refused to let us hold him... he was determined to surf on his own.

Friday, August 28, 2009

To Friends, Old and New

Playing with Nico and Alex in the 'cuzzi

During his stay in San Diego Ronan was able to both make new and catch up with old friends. First up was Martha and Dave, proud grandparents themselves, stopping by to check in on Ronan's progress. I'm pretty sure his little curls and goofy smile won them over, as well as his unbridled passion for trucks. They gave Ronan a new shirt that he will wear with glee this fall- it has a big truck on it!

Solving puzzles with Alba

Next Ronan solved some puzzles with Alba, also a grandmother, she having three energetic grandsons. She was phenomenal with Ronan, but with the three grandsons nearby we think she had secretly hoped to cuddle a little girl. It was her 2-year-old grandson Johnathan who lent Ronan a riding tractor for the week, and Ronan now has a great little bucky-ball toy that makes noise, thanks to Alba!

Ronan had enough of adults, so we went to meet up with Nico and Alex, sons of our good friends Paulette and Buddy. In the short 90 mins we had together Ronan rode a motorcycle, gardened, swung & slid on the playstructure, and swam in the pool. In short, living the good life of a big boy. He loved the action but was even more impressed with the Nico and Alex, following them around the whole time. Mom and I cherished the rare moment we were about to catch up with Paulette.

Making like Uncle Jeff, except he sold his Ducati Monster years ago

Finally, Aunt Kathy and Uncle Jeff made the trip down and finally got to spend some time with Ronan. As Ronan fashions his love of mechanical things after Uncle Jeff, it was great to see them interact. Ronan made out with a vintage, British-racing-green model of a Jaguar. Sweet!

Thanks to all for making time to visit. When Ronan is in town next, he'll be sure to call. Perhaps to meet up for an early afternoon nap?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crest Canyon

At the canyon rim with Mom

Growing up I used to spend most of my free time divided between playing in the waves at the beach and the exploring the open spaces near our house. I frequented Crest Canyon the most (it was easy to get to.... all I had to do was wander down a drainage ditch), so naturally we took Ronan to explore it for himself.

Leading us, at speed, down the trail

The canyon is smaller than I remember, but Ronan loved running along the path, stopping every so often to regard an interesting plant or pick up a rock. Like I did when I was a child, Ronan seemed determined to follow any hint of a path off of the main trail, intrepidly heading into brush and coastal scrub. By the end of the hike his legs were thoroughly scratched even though he was wearing pants.

In addition to his gleeful running Ronan would, from time to time, do a goofy little spin mid stride. We tried to get it on video, but as soon as the camera was out Ronan would stop his silly routine.

Round and round and round he goes...

He also took a couple of solid falls (scraping hands and knees, but nothing serious) but brushed them off as if he felt nothing. The demands of dinner called for the end of our hike but I'm certain there will be many family treks in the future!

So proud of himself after his big hike

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Vacation of '09... The Intro

Regarding our transit vehicle with anticipation

For Ronan's first week-long summer vacation we decided to pack our bags, board a plane, and head to Nana's house in the beach town of Del Mar. It was a perfect get-away for two tired parents and one active toddler; Nana's hospitality (and cleaning/planning/organizing prowess) was just what the three of us needed. Many warm, heartfelt thanks to her for a wonderful week!

While Mom and I simply relaxed, Ronan seemed to inhale as much of the new environment as possible. Over the next few days I'll do a few posts on his various adventures.

One fun thing that Ronan learned during our trip was how to give big goofy grins when being photographed. In Ronan's case "saying cheese" really does work.

Hamming it up while eating

Ronan also enjoyed his cousin Drew's model cars- it was the first time we have seen him sit and play, uninterrupted, in one spot, for more than an hour.

Hitting the mother load... what could make a little boy happier?

Finally, it was a treat to watch Ronan and Nana bond. He became quite attached to her, and I like to think that he appreciates her encouraging his independent nature. That said, when he got out of line, Nana was the first to put him back on track.

The Toddlers in Totes discipline approach

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Business Casual

"Dumping a 3 cubic meter bucket is cake"

Less than two weeks ago Ronan was infatuated with engineering vehicles... now he's nonchalant when operating them. Earlier today we came across a backhoe loader parked in our neighborhood and of course Ronan climbed up to check things out. I cracked up when he coolly slung his arm over the seat and played with the bucket control stick as if he's been doing it for years. His cool facade wore off, however, when he had to crawl down beneath the steering wheel to operate the clutch and break.

Where did he learn such skills? Training at Ronan's construction apprenticeship

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ronan on a Jet Plane!

Intently watching ground crews load and refuel our aircraft

Even with being woken and pulled from his bed at 6:30 in the morning, and even with a missed flight (thank you Southwest... perhaps you should staff more than one agent at the mandatory-for-those-with-infants "special" check in kiosk so that the wait is not more than 45 mins? And when there are known issues w/the way TSA regards your name-truncation-boarding-pass-printing-layout, perhaps you should fix it?) manifesting itself as a couple hour delay, Ronan was still a trooper in our travels this morning.

He had fun exploring but did not push his limits, he sat quietly on our laps for almost the entire flight, and, until we tried to strap him into his car seat when we arrived in San Diego, Ronan had not uttered a single whine or shed a frustrated tear (the same could not be said for his parents, who were generous in their four-letter-explicative utterances). After a long day, our little intrepid traveler is now sleeping peacefully is his bed. Thank you Ronan, and sleep well!

Frustrations disappear as we partake in the miracle of flight

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Booty McLackin'

Diaper wedgie!

Courtesy of Auntie Shelia, Ronan's moniker when he's disrobed is Booty McLackin'. Why? Because Ronan is, in fact, lacking booty (hey, it's not Dad's fault).

True, Ronan does not have much of a bum but what he misses in cushion he makes up for with flair. For instance, Ronan grabs his glutes when we ask, "where's your bum?", and he knows that his "bum" goes on the "seat". Also, Ronan "shakes his booty" when it's Friday (Mom's song) and/or The Traveling Willburys are playing on the radio.

Freeing little cheeks everywhere. At least those on the starboard side...

Finally, Ronan is one of the few babies who attempts to turn his diaper into a g-string. It's funny that a bum so small can actually "hang out" of a super absorbent diaper. And it's always that pesky right cheek. Thankfully, though, he's currently too skinny to be able to sport a muffin top.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My G2 Wallpaper

"You and whose army?"

I've been asked which picture of Ronan I've set as my wallpaper on my mobile phone- I suppose it's the current equivalent of the "which baby photo do you carry in your wallet?" query. For the past month I've had the image above looking back at me when I turn on my phone.

I like the photo's bright colors, converging lines, exaggerated shadows & playful dinos on Ronan's helmet; mostly though, it's his too-cool-for-school expression whilst sporting a bib that cracks me up.

So there you have it... the image was taken near Stanford's Main Quad a month or so ago. We were stretching our legs during a break from a bike ride; I snapped the shot using my mobile phone (decent picture quality for a phone camera).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

... And *More* Wheels

Almost as if they were written specifically for Ronan...

Only a few hours after a morning spent exploring engineering machinery Ronan came home to two new books on wheels. It turns out in his pre-departure-for-Indonesia chaos Uncle Todd still made time to find some gems for Ronan to read. For this Ronan is clearly grateful!

Happy to point out the "steering wheel"

It was a surprise to us and a delight for Ronan- his current obsession is going through every page of "What do Wheels Do All Day" and pointing out unconventional wheels. Both books are wonderfully illustrated and of course on Ronan's favorite subject.

A big thank you to Uncle Todd and Auntie Melissa for such a fantastic gift!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Now *That* is a Wheel


Zooty bike? Check. Kid trailer? Check. Cheerios in a snack catcher? Check. Komatsu excavator? Check. That's how we roll.

During a Saturday ride we noticed several large vehicles at one of the many active construction sites on Stanford campus. Fortuitously the site was accessible (a large gate left wide open), so we stopped to let Ronan explore the machinery. As soon as he was he was freed from his trailer he ran directly to the largest wheel in a lot filled with huge wheels.

"My hard hat has dinosaurs, my overall's got turtles, & my boots have leather soles."

"Mmmm... wheel"

The site contained a what's what of engineering vehicles. Ronan went up to and inspected at least one of each of the following: bulldozer, grader, scraper, excavator, loader, backhoe, roller, and water truck. Yes, he loved it, and wanted nothing more than to spend hours walking from piece of heavy equipment to piece of heavy equipment, inspecting the wheels without ever tiring (ha ha!) of it.

This thing is stubborn... who needs and axle cover anyway?

Yes, that's four thousand gallons of water

And yes, this is simply how Ronan is wired. I do love building things (and demolishing things even more) but engineering vehicles were never on our "must introduce" list. This passion is something Ronan has developed all on his own. Using heavy machinery is loud, dirty, fun, and, in the end, constructive (zing... twice!) activity to pursue; I couldn't be a prouder father.

"Let's get this scrapper scraping!"