Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Budding Fashionista

Nieve pulling a serious pose in a dress Auntie Alysia & Uncle Mikey gave her for her first birthday. She wore it for our Christmas dinner; guests were impressed!

Nieve likes her high fashion, from shoes to purses to dresses. While we try not to tell her she's 'pretty' too often she lights up when you associate that adjective with her appearance.

Nieve doing her 'happy baby' rocking back and forth on the floor... because she's sporting her new kicks

I suppose there could be worse vices: Mom and I remain fascinated by Nieve's love of dressing up and posing in her clothes. She even seems to notice when others are getting primped and prettied, or when new clothes (for any of us) are brought into the house.

Nieve (and Ronan) gave Mom a hat for Christmas, which quickly went to Nieve after she like the way it looked when Mom modeled it

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Nieve practicing more of her counting, "One for Santa, one for me."

Ronan and Nieve spent the day getting ready for Santa - in addition to the traditional activities such behaving (mostly) well, making sure the flu is open and setting out cookies & milk for Santa (Santa was lucky this year - he also got a Sprungli chocolate), they tracked Santa's progress via NORAD and continued their December daily fun of a computerized advent calendar (Thanks Auntie E!).

Ronan pointing out 'the good stuff' - Swiss chocolate

They also loved seeing family and friends - Bhavesh Kaka stopped by to spoil the two of them and Grandma and Grandpa are staying through the holiday.

Yep, this is what Uncles are for

Ronan and Nieve also celebrated in style with Grammy's impressively large and fun family. Ronan loved sneaking 'pigs in a blanket' from Pappa's plate but in terms of total tonnage the lasagna was the clear winner - both kids ate their weight of it. Thanks Auntie Nancy for hosting!

Ronan whispering to Grandma

Judging by the pile of gifts awaiting Ronan and Nieve, tomorrow is sure to be pandaemonium - AKA Little Kid Bliss - we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Nieve says, "Merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nieve Counts at Dinner

Nieve the little ham

A week ago Nieve surprised us during dinner as she rattled off numbers, counting from one to thirteen with an air of indifference. By the time we found a camera to record her, she was making funny faces and feigning fright from the expected flash. It appears Nieve knows when/how to put on a show. Mom loves Nieve's funny little looks so I'm posting the video for you to enjoy.

Nieve's efforts at dinner reminded me of Ronan a couple of years ago - also counting to ten.

Ronan is counting on me!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Card Photo

The winning photo!

Like most people with children every year we send out a photo of the kids around the winter holidays. This year we spent an hour walking Ronan and Nieve around the neighborhood in their beloved Engine #12.

And the runner up

Nieve and Ronan are no different than probably every other 1.5 and 3.5 year olds - they never will smile for the camera at the same time no matter how hard you try. After much theatrics from Mom (jumping, hand-waving, shrill noise making, etc), we finally got a photo or two that was sufficient for a card... and to get as much milage out of that effort I'm putting the two photos up on this blog!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hiking Foothills Park

The kids taking a well deserved brake at the Foothill Park lake

Foothills Park, unfortunately only accessible for Palo Alto residents, is great spot to spend a morning. There is a small lake, lots of trails criss-crossing surrounding foothills, an interpretive center, and of course plenty of wildlife.

Ronan found plenty of ducks to quack at

When we want a quick dip with the kayaks, the Foothill lake is the spot to do it - easy entry/exit, no current, and even a fun little island to circumnavigate. Last weekend we decided to hike to the little island and Ronan led the way, following the water's edge until he found the bridge to the island.

Nieve and her giraffe trail running

Nieve loved running the trails as fast as her little legs would carry her. When she tired she would either plop down where she was or demand to be placed in our child-carrying backpack.

Enjoying the view from the bridge

Nieve testing out the effets of objects being dropped into the water

Ronan was clearly in his element, exploring the trails (and non-trails) with gusto. He was the designated wildlife spotter (deer & ducks were most prevalent) and rattled through the various what-to-do protocols for wildlife encounters. His 'run away!' instructions for encountering a bull moose might be right but I've been meaning to Google it to make sure.

On the lookout for wildlife

It was a fun way to spend the morning - best of all the strenuous hiking made for a quiet and enjoyable naptime later in the day!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Portola Pastures

Nieve and Mom make a new friend

We had plenty of warm sunshine today so we headed out to hike at our local favorite, Arastradero Park. Unfortunately it was volunteer fix-it day meaning there was no parking to be found. Instead we headed just up the road to Portola Pastures to walk the stables and watch some horses train.

Nieve likes horses so long as they are not too pushy and give her some room

Both Ronan and Nieve love animals and they especially enjoy horses. Nieve loves to mimic a horse's trot: Better yet, she likes to have me hold her and then mimic a trot wherever she directs.

Ronan introduced himself to Yaya and the two quickly became friends

Ronan usually enjoys checking out the farm equipment but today he was far more interested in the animals. I was surprised to see how many horses he approached on his own, without prompting nor presence from either Mom or I.

Ronan showing a gentle confidence with Yaya that put the her at ease

I was even more surprised at how much he studied the horses - their manners, their likes, their movements. Ronan would listen as friendly owners would explain to us their horse's personality traits and what type of petting their animal enjoyed. He was notably gentle and the horses seemed to respond in kind - today may have been an anomaly or Ronan may have a touch of horse trainer in him.

Ronan went so far as to talk to the horse - sadly, though, no Mr. Ed-ian response was given

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More Accurate than a Thermometer

Ronan all snuggie and peaceful! Unfortunately that means that he's very sick.

Unfortunately Ronan spiked a fever on Monday, his elevated temperature confirmed by a thermometer placed under his arm. The digital measurement wasn't necessary - when Ronan asks to be covered deep in a fluffy down comforter, sits quietly, and reads a book in the middle of the morning it is certain that he is sick.

Thankfully some excellent TLC from Mom (and Penicillin) has helped to get Ronan back on his feet - he lost four pounds but with his appetite returning he should be back in top form in no time.

Fall Means Leaf Piles

Nieve looking to see what all the ruckus is about...

Mom and I love the fall- crisp air, beautiful colors, and the excitement that comes with the autumnal holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Ronan and Nieve love fall for a different reason - all of the leaves that drop.

Nieve quickly made herself at home in one of the leaf piles...

We're lucky to have an array of brilliant foliage near our house, from Japanese Maples to Chinese Pistache to Ginkos. While the kids do notice the colors what really makes them happy is playing in the piles of fallen leaves.

...and was charmed when more leaves started floating down on her...

...until the leaves started really dumping! (yes, Nieve is in the center of that deluge of leaves)

At one of the parks in the neighborhood a couple of trees dropped their leaves last week. Some children had formed great piles out of the leaves, so Ronan and Nieve made the most of it.

Nieve played happily while Ronan started to mix it up with Auntie Sheila...

...and after he provoked a fight between Auntie Sheila and Bhavesh Kaka he moved on in search of yet another target...

Auntie Sheila, Mom, and Bhavesh Kaka all joined in the romp, throwing arm-fulls of leaves and each other into the growing piles. Ronan was the most enthusiastic; at one point he dumped enough leaves on top of Nieve to bury her completely.

...and found Mommy! Note how sweet Nieve is, assuring Mom that everything will be OK

Soon the weather will become wet and cold but until then we'll enjoy our time outside in the refreshing fall air.

The kiddos, happy but exhausted in their leafy nest

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Love of Shoes

Admiring her new kicks

Nieve loves shoes. Sparkly slippers, rubber boots, nylon sandals, leather moccasins, plastic flip-flops, or fur-lined slippers; Nieve loves them all.

It's safe to say that shoes make Nieve happy!

The other night, after getting ready for bed, Nieve decided to put on Ronan's shoes. She quietly went to the shoe rack, found the ones she was interested in, put each shoe on the correct foot, and proceeded to play in Ronan's shoes.

"Nice. Lots of extra room in the toebox"

We have never encouraged Nieve to like shoes let alone learn to put them on by herself - Nieve has an intrinsic interest in footwear that we find a bit baffling but at the moment very endearing. For example, one day at preschool 'Suggie' Nieve's plush animal was lost - the teachers found a glittery shoe that served well as a comfort object that she cuddled to sleep.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Snack Time

Ronan's new food face & Nieve's innate skepticism

Yesterday Nieve and Ronan ate their body weights in Thanksgiving food; we assumed both would have diminished appetites today to allow their little stomaches to recover.

"Hey, these cookies are great!"

So far that does not seem to be the case. After a large breakfast both Ronan and Nieve were clamoring for a snacks; today that turned out to be an egg, a cheese stick, some crackers, and finally some cheddar bunny treats - each.

Even Ronan cannot frown forever...

Nieve was simply delighted to have food while Ronan took the opportunity to make faces again for the camera. What the photos do not show is just how cute the two of them looked, bundled up and sitting on their portable chairs, enjoying a snack together side by side.

A happy little girl

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nieve Finds Water on Mars

"Eureka! Water on the red planet!"

Nieve, ever the explorer, went to "Mars" (the tennis courts near our house) and confirmed that the red planet does have water present. She also confirmed that Mars water is similar to Earth water in that it gets clothes wet but it seems to be a bit more 'icky'.

All great discoveries are celebrated with a jig

Ronan wanted to quantify behavior on a planet where gravity is less than Earth. His testing showed that Mars water does travel farther when splashed vigorously with an instrument. Directional splashing, when targeted at some of the other visitors to Mars, resulted in superior accuracy than the equivalent on Earth.

The stick-whip-through-water test posted some impressive results, and an even more impressive reaction from a fellow explorer known as 'Mom'

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Memory Like Mom's

Nieve plays with the little VW Bug

Last week our neighbors Bob and Isabel gave Ronan and Nieve a treasure chest of miniature vehicles and amongst the fire engines and race cars Nieve found her favorite - a metallic green VW bug.

She pulled the bug out yelled definitively, "Gr Puh Puh!" She was adamant about it - Gr Puh Puh - we had no idea what she was talking about until Mom ask, "Do you mean Grandpa?"

Nieve's signature nod and, "Yee-aa-uh!" confirmed it. And it dawned on us - Grandpa drives a bright red VW bug, and she was noting this little toy was the same as Grandpa's car.

"Is that the kind of car Grandpa drives?" Mom asked.

"Huh, Yes." Nieve seemed slightly annoyed that she had to state the obvious to us.

The 'Gr Puh Puh' car is good enough for her toes

It surprised us that Nieve would associate VW Bugs with Grandpa, given that she's seen his car maybe a half-dozen times. Like Ronan her memory appears to be quite keen and it's sorely needed in our household, given how forgetful I've become. Mom's happy too as this gives her another able body to help me find my keys in the morning.

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Good to be Dad

Parenthood requires sacrifice, and I don't know any parent that would call raising children 'glamorous', but having little ones around sometimes has it's benefits. It's moments like those in the photos below that make all of the sleepless nights and groggy days worth it.

This is the reception I get after a ride home from work. Beats a red carpet and trumpets any day.

A favorite of both Ronan and Nieve - the Daddy Dog Pile

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Posing for Photos

It's usually a tough sell to get Ronan to smile for the camera - at best he ignores you and at worst he'll run and hide. But if you ask him to be silly he'll ham it up while posing happily until he gets a photo that he likes. The other night he was making goofy faces for the camera and after each shot he'd want to review the capture for approval. Below are some of the photos that Ronan deemed 'acceptable'.

"No, YOU eat YOUR veggies"

"My dessert is gone"

"But I don't wanna eat my broccoli"

"Um, maybe I can get my sister to eat it..."

"Ha ha! She's eating it!"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

GI Strikes Again

This is the best smile Ronan could muster...

Unfortunately Ronan caught his second GI bug in a month - he spent all of last night throwing up. Today was a little better but he was still unable to consistently keep food down. He undoubtably caught it from school - we received an email notice on Friday that this nasty little bug was making it's way through the classes. Nieve has not shown symptoms yet but at least one of her classmates was sent home with GI problems on Friday. It's probably only a matter of time before Nieve goes through this as well.

Being sick is so sad...

The last time Ronan passed the bug to the other three of us (and we all caught it at the same time... exactly two days after Ronan showed symptoms). Mom has been hyper diligent with hygiene - separate towels, washing hands until they are cracked and bleeding, and using bleach judiciously in the bathrooms. We've been plying Ronan with the usuals - whites (rice, plain yogurt, bananas, chicken) and Gatorade/Pediolyte; we hope the diet quiets things down. Ronan, heal quickly - we miss your spunk!