Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sunday Softball

Who's on first?

Ronan's cousins Makena and Maia are star players on the Pacifica Fusion softball team; naturally, when the Half Moon Bay Tides were in town for a double header, we had make the trip up to cheer the Fusion on.

Makena & the art of bubble blowing

Ronan noted the softball garb, from the cool standard unis to Maia's body-armor-like catcher gear. He also spent lots of time with Auntie Shelia (who also would not miss this clash of softball titans) and now knows how to behave like a proper softball fan.

Loving the "feet up" rule with Auntie Shelia

Stealing secrets and distracting the opponents

When the innings were slow Ronan had plenty of entertainment from Grammy and Poppa, from playing "catch me as I run down this steep hill!" to learning how to push a mini stroller. Ronan also tried to help the Fusion's chances of winning by stealing the opposing team's secrets and doing his best to be a cute distraction. Unfortunately for the Fusion, the Tide were a force on the diamond and finished the day by sweeping the double header.

Impressed by cousin Maia in her sweet catching gear. Looks to be useful stuff.

Best of luck next time, Makena and Maia!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Role Models

"Yep. I'm just hanging with the boys..."

What better way to spend a late Saturday afternoon than at a park with two of your favorite role models? That's exactly what Ronan did, showing Uncles Mikey and Jason how hip hanging at a local park can be.

"Uh,are Oakland's open container laws applicable in Palo Alto?"

And they, in turn, showed him how guys typically spend Saturday afternoons. Ronan seemed engaged when learning that Guinness in a can is quite good thanks to a funky little carbon dioxide widget. The unflappable Uncle Jason demonstrated the very necessary push-a-child-on-a-swing-with-one-hand, keep-a-beer-from-spilling-in-the-other technique with perfection.

Getting the basics self-powered swinging down

On the swing Uncle Mikey schooled Ronan in the art of "higher!". After a little coaching Ronan was getting the hang of it. Mikey was tempted to show off his "go for distance" jumping dismount but he decided to save that for lesson #2 (thankfully).

Heading home, glad that Uncle Jason grabbed my snack catcher

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Dread Pirate... Ronan?

Well, maybe not "dread"...

One of Mom's all time favorite movies is The Princess Bride, so it only makes sense that she's starting Ronan's pirate training at an early age. Really she thinks Ronan will become a privateer, but that seems to be just a matter of degree.

One foot above the other...

First up on her list, right before talking like a pirate, and hopefully a few years before swashbuckling, is how to properly scale ratlines. Getting to a position of advantage in crow's nest quickly is imperative for the element of surprise.

The all important pre-climb camera pose

"Up! Up! Up!"

Do pirates have their mothers spot?

Fortunately for us a neighborhood park has nets that make for a perfect training ground. Over the weekend Ronan mastered climbing up these nylon ropes, deliberately placing and moving his hands and feet. His efforts were rewarded by a fun trip down the static electricity-inducing twisty slide.

A happy boy at the top of the ropes (and Mom's new background)

A new coiffure

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change- Blog Action Day 2009

It's the poor mileage that makes him sad

Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event where thousands of bloggers unite and write about a single, relevant issue. This year's topic is perhaps the most pressing and complicated challenge currently facing our planet- climate change. I loved this quick post by my brother discussing his current country of residence- Indonesia.

While Ronan is still too young to grasp something as complex as climate change, there are many contributory lessons he has started to learn. For example, Ronan actively maintains his own little environment, taking care to keep things tidy and clean. He is starting to grasp the concept of excess and waste, particularly when it comes to food and water; we hope this soon translates into conservation. He knows "off" and has mastered the ability to flip light switches and power down a Prius.

Little hands tinkering with Facebook's electric maintenance vehicle

Ronan liking this little Gem of a vehcile

Ronan's love of the outdoors is innate (this is true for most children); it seems he cherishes his time in nature far more than most adults do. His happiest moments have been on trails, at the beach, or even in our own backyard. He clearly enjoys tending to plants and getting his hands dirty.

Checking the progress of the orange crop

Planting seedling to offset direct methane production

This love extends to other living creatures- a few weeks ago Mom told a story of Ronan's gentle and protective actions towards something as common as a pillbug. As Mom jabbered away as she sometimes does, Ronan shushed her, signed "sleeping" and pointed to the little curled up crustacean. More obvious is Ronan's affection for canines and cats- in fact he'd likely love any animal that returned his affection (or tolerated it enough not to leave).

Exploring the shores of our oceans

Central to how we will have to manage the human consequences of climate change is the notion of fairness- we have been particularly proud to watch Ronan begin to both give and share. A quick application of John Rawl's veil of ignorance concept stresses the importance of morality and ethics when considering those most responsible for and those most affected by climate change.

Sharing food w/a classmate

Sure, Ronan's methane production could use some abatement, and of course he does love heavy machinery, but I'm hopeful that with a lot of knowledge and a little encouragement he will grow into a capable steward of Mother Earth.

Working towards energy (and other forms of) independence

In fact, in observing Ronan's natural tendencies, I often wonder if children have innate qualities pre-programmed to enable them to lead sustainable lives? Perhaps. I suppose it's our duty as parents and friends to cultivate that capacity.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Head, Take Two

Ronan, a carnival squash, the wheelbarrow, and *the hat*, Year 2

One year ago we took Ronan to a family owned pumpkin patch in San Gregorio for the annual autumnal squash selection. That year Ronan sported a crowd pleasing, hand-knit hat from Linda Walters, a long time family friend. So cute was Ronan in his hat that my friend and colleague Alice did a blog post of her own recalling events of that day.

This year we decided to head back to that same farm for our annual Halloween harvest. Although the layout was a bit different (every year they rotate crop fields to keep the soil rich), the place retained almost all of it's charm.

The same red wheelbarrows were available for pumpkin (and child) toting, and yes, Ronan loved riding, pushing, and exploring them. He was a year older, a year bigger, and a year more capable; it was great to watch him revel in an environment clearly structured for fun.

Even toddlers need a rest from time to time...

On one side of the patch stood a maze cut in a corn field for kids accompanied by an adult to walk through. After he observed a few groups of people disappearing into the stalks, Ronan decided the maze was interesting enough to investigate. We chuckled when he walked up to the entrance, regarded the brightly painted signs, look backed at us, shot an evil grin, and then darted into the tall corn field. Fortunately a speedy Mom caught him just before he was able to get good and lost.

"Uh, we know *that's* not going to happen"

Busted! Mom catches Ronan in the corn maze

In the middle of the pumpkin patch was the obligatory haystack, six bales high and at least four a side at the top. Whooping kids chased each other up and down while the intrepid jumped off of the top into the piles of loose straw at the corners. Ronan gave it a go and scaled right to the top- he was so proud of himself as he ran around the top, pointing and grunting to all who would listen about his accomplishment.

Scaling the haystack

On top of the world! Well, at least on top of the haystack...

When the time came to pick a pumpkin, Ronan thought the best selection process was to test the squash's meddle. In lieu of finding the right shape or color Ronan would bite the stem and see if it was solid. If it was, Ronan would jump on top of the pumpkin and wrestle it for a while, using a variety of holds and techniques. Once he had tired the squash out, he would jump on it and giggle with glee at the thorough drubbing he administered. After 10 mins of wrestling, a pumpkin got the best of Ronan (at this point Ronan was trying to run *on top* of the pumpkins which were half his height or more) and thus his pumpkin was chosen.

"Will I get a reaction?"

Demonstrating proper pumpkin wrestling technique

Now he's just showboating

The pumpkin's revenge... Ronan's hubris is his downfall

After a fun couple of hours we packed up the car and headed back over the hill, the trunk filled with a colorful variety of squash. The combination of the brisk fall weather, the bright orange pumpkins, and the enthusiasm of a little one made for a very fun Sunday afternoon. Oh, and a hat to match made it a perfect day!

Knackered from the day's excitement, Ronan had to be wheeled out of the patch

Mandatory family photo... soon to be, if not already, a real drag

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh Sand, How I Love Thee

Giddy while searching for a place to play

A few weekends ago some close friends invited us to spend a few days with them along beautiful and serene Sonoma Coast. The abundance of attention of four adults and another youngster (and the Ronan-sized, stuffed gorilla we found in his room) made for one happy little boy.

While much of the coastline is rocky, there are several spots that make way for protected little beaches- it was these spots that Ronan loved enjoyed most.

Jackpot! A perfect spot for a beach adventure.

What he seemed to like most was reveling in the dark sand warmed by the sun. At one point he simply flopped face-down and made sand angles while squealing with delight.


He also loved to run on the firmly packed sand- it was a fast surface and forgiving when his stumbles turned into tumbles.

An ideal surface to stretch the legs on

In the afternoons, Ronan enjoyed playing "chase, catch, and eat the seaweed", a fun but not too appetizing game Mom invented with some bulb kelp that washed ashore.

Exploring the wonders of massive, beautiful bulb kelp (it's far more attractive when viewed in the water)

Of course, Ronan always wanted to run into the shallows, but he did much better when we redirected him away from the chilly water (perhaps due to the ocean being a brisk 53 F, a good 15 F cooler than in Del Mar).

Ronan keeps us on our toes...

It was a most excellent trip that was wonderful for all of us- a big, warm thank you to Auntie E, Uncle S, and little A!

Enjoying the crescent moon setting along with the sun, all from the deck

Sunday, October 4, 2009

To Walk A Mile in Another Man's Shoes

At least it's a low weight to surface area ratio... perhaps he could walk on water?

No matter how much Mom and I would like to think it, I'm fairly certain Ronan was not stumbling around in my shoes hoping to build empathy for his father. And probably not to even understand me; like many things he does, he just enjoys mimicking grown-ups.

What to do if your left shoe is 15 sizes too big? That's right, ride a motorcycle.

It's fun for us to chuckle with him when he tries on our shoes. Clearly it makes his motion more challenging, and there is always the problem the falling (not to mention getting the feet right), but Ronan loves the process of it all so we oblige by giving him access to our shoes.

"Rats. My Air Jordan are way cushier."

And we love to witness it. When he does get the shoe on and completes a few successful laps of the house/patio/deck, he gives us a smile born from a mix of humor and pride. That look of wit and accomplishment is one of the most prized combinations for us to see in our child.

"Look! I found a hole in the toe!"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The World's *Cutest* Indian?

All of the style of James Dean, and more

Ronan's shiny new gift from Auntie Sheila is not The World's Fastest Indian (the governed 2 mph top speed makes sure of that), but ridden by Ronan it may be the cutest. Yes, Ronan loves it. He's ensorcelled by it. When he wakes up every morning he signs "motorcycle" and immediately points downstairs. And yes, he can locate all of the parts on the motorcycle that Mom can identify (including differentiating between the speedometer and the tachometer).

One happy boy

Trick riding at all of 17 months of age...

What gives him pause is the Indian's electric motor. Ronan is an internal combustion kind of guy ("vroom, vroom") so, naturally, when he accidentally hit the accelerator and the motorcycle lurched forward with a high pitch whine, the surprise of it all unsettled him. So much so that occasionally he won't sit on the seat for fear of an accidental brush with pedal. Instead he "rides the rear fender", in a Supermanesque pose, feet outstretched behind him.

Thank you Auntie Shelia for the perfect Ronan gift!

Ronan, his ride, and his benefactor