Monday, September 26, 2011

Top Knot to Pig Tails

"Can you spy something new with my 'do?"

Nieve is slowly outgrowing her signature coiffure - the top knot - due to the increasing length and volume of her hair. It's too long in back to be left unattended but not long enough in front to do a proper pony tail, so it's off to the sides as pig tails.

What once was one now is two!

New hair, same curious little mind

As parents we're mixed on the result. First, pig tails require quite a bit more work in the morning. Second, it makes Nieve look older and that is not good. Time is passing far too quickly for our liking; no need to have a hairstyle remind us of that. Finally, we miss the little fountain spout that would bob around like a quail's plume when Nieve would march from place to place. These side plumes seem more stiff and less ebullient.

"Two plumes, one for each ear!"

That said the new 'do does get the hair (mostly) out of her face and off of her neck and Nieve seems happier for it. It also means that Nieve has two sprouts to decorate with bobbles, which is twice the fun as one!

A messy face and lots of bright stripes make for a happy girl

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mountain Biking

Ronan on single track

Ronan has been asking to try out mountain biking for many months and we finally took him this morning to ride at our favorite local preserve, Arastradero. It's a great spot to learn how to ride off road - the hills are mostly moderate and there is a good mix of single track and wide fire roads. The only drawback is the all too frequent spots of horse poop scattered across the trail.

Mountain biking meant lots of smiles

Ronan was surprisingly adept at handling his bike on the new terrain with only a couple of spills during the couple miles of riding. Off-pavement riding is not entirely new to him as he always takes the dirt path option (he calls it "bumpy road") when available next to biking routes around our neighborhood.

Me and Ronan, cheezing mid-ride

Nieve and Mom decided to hike and we were fortunate to meet up mid-ride/hike for a snack. Nieve loved walking around, greeting hikers as they passed, and riding in Mom's backpack along the trail. Given how interested she was in our bicycles I'm guessing she will be joining us on rides as soon as her legs are long enough to reach the pedals!

"Now! Give me a bicycle, now!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Big Air

Looks like fun

It's fun to watch Nieve learn, and much of this process is mimicking what she observes Ronan doing. One of her more humorous efforts to watch is her attempts to jump. Ronan is an impressive leaper for a three-year-old - both over and off of objects - and I'm sure to Nieve it looks like fun. So she does her best to be like him, trying to become an effective jumper.

Nieve's jumping technique is getting there - she seems to understand that it's important to bend your knees and thrust upwards quickly. She also understands that what makes a jump a jump is getting your feet off of the ground. It's the 'getting air' part that she's working on and has, to her credit, problem-solved in her own way.

Nieve cannot generate enough upward momentum to do a graceful takeoff and landing; instead she pulls her feet up in an effort to get airborne, which results in her plopping down on her backside, sometimes with quite a bit of force. She's prone to do it even on hard surfaces and occasionally ends up rubbing her head due to the jolt. We hope she learns (quickly) that while her approach may give her the 'flying' sensation, it's probably not in her best interest to continue to 'jump' in this fashion.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hot Chocolate!

Ronan testing his drink

There are few things that make Ronan and Nieve as happy as a little cup of hot chocolate. It's funny how much they enjoy this tasty treat - they even savor their drink, at least as much as young children can.

Nieve starting to sip as well

Mom is the kids' source for the treat and she spoils them by using high quality chocolate and whole milk. She makes an entire event of it, having Ronan and Nieve participate in preparing their drink.

"Oooh! Tasty!"

Mom serves the chocolate milk in little bright red swiss expresso mugs courtesy of Ronan's first BFF Laurin. I'm surprised at how adept both Ronan and Nieve are in using the tiny handles.

Getting to the bottom of it

Yes, when the chocolate milk is all gone there are requests for more but rarely do these pleas turn into full blown tantrums. Thirty minutes later we do notice a spike in the kids' energy level, but we anticipate the change so we make sure the kids are outside before they get too wild.

A chocolate milk moustache means a happy little girl

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Beach Days

Heading to the surf

Of all the fun things we did in San Diego the one activity we did the most was go to the beach. On all but one of our days there we hit the surf and sand, spending as much time as we could enjoying the Del Mar beaches. Ronan loved it - in fact he asked to camp there one night - and he did it all, from swimming to surfing to building sandcastles.

Heading *to* surf

He also said he wanted to be a lifeguard. A job at the beach that lets you, "help people" while riding a quad or piloting a Zodiac is cool enough, but this year we happend upon the the lifeguards doing helicopter rescue training. Ronan watched with envy as the lifeguards would be taken by helicopter 100 yards out to sea and droppen in the water - it did look like a fun.

Looks like fun

Nieve had a more complicated relationship with the beach. She was at first afraid of the water but gradually her comfort with it grew as she pushed herself to go deeper. Mom and I loved the look of accomplishment and confidence she wore when she finally had overcome her fear.

Afraid no more!

As always we loved our time enjoying San Diego - a very big thank you to Nana for hosting us. The biggest drawback to the beach is the sand that you bring home with you - we can only imagine the piles of the white grainy stuff that Nana found in her vacuum from cleaning up after us!

Beach Days 2011

More photos in a web album of our Beach Days

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lazy Labor Day

Enjoying the peaceful fountain... together

All four of us came down with a cold this week so rather than doing something adventurous or strenuous on our holiday we decided to keep things mellow and stay close to home. Ronan wanted to get out on his bicycle and do some 'exploring Stanford' - when he says 'exploring Stanford' what he really means is 'go find some big machines'.

Happy? Happy.

Stanford seems to be perpetually under construction and Ronan knows all the spots where they store the heavy equipment. Like a homing pigeon he guided us straight to the largest cache of machines on campus. Nieve was along for the ride and seemed almost as eager as Ronan to get her hands greasy.

It's like playing in a sandbox, only with bigger, better toys!

It was fun to see what the kids enjoyed - Ronan was fascinated by a construction site sweeper (a crude version of a street sweeper) and said that he was going to, "drive the maintenance truck home."

"We need one of these to clean the house!"

When I asked, "what about your bike?"

He replied, "My bike? I'm just going to put it in the bed of the truck and drive it home too."

This is how Nieve rolls...

Nieve preferred to get in the biggest, baddest loader in the yard and pretend like she was demolishing stuff by making loud crushing sounds.

Bigger *is* better

Happy girl at the helm of her monster loader

She also enjoyed using the joysticks in a smaller excavator that was easy for her to climb into. Ronan too found a different mini-excavator ('with tracks!") that was fun for him to pretend was operational.

A mini excavator for a mini Nieve

Ronan wanted to bring this machine home

Mom joined us later, just in time for lunch. We found a spot on the steps in front of a fountain and the kids were able to enjoy the water while they munched their sandwiches.

When trick riding a wall goes wrong... you end up in the jasmine

After more bike riding (some of which was Ronan's stunt performances) we headed home to finish off the day with a nice dinner in the backyard. Given how much fun Nieve and Ronan had, I imagine we will be doing more exploration of heavy equipment in the weekends to come.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nieve, Now a Starry Flounder

A proud little girl, ready for her first day of school

Today was Nieve's first day in daycare, and like Ronan's first day two years ago it was a bit of a bumpy transition. She was fine during the drop off, exploring the space and getting to know her fellow classmates. But, according to her teachers, once she realized she was no longer in the company of adults whom she knew Nieve started acting out a bit more and requiring some focused attention.

Just a touch of attitude can help make transitions easier

Every child handles new situations differently; here are a few things Nieve decided to do, in protest of the transition:
- Not nap. Granted she was only at school for a few hours (Grammy picked her up early) but even
- Hunger strike. Nieve loves salmon, the dish served for lunch, but she refused to eat in her classroom. She even refused to eat in Grammy's car leaving the facility
- Assert her frustration on her classmates. If she wanted a toy, she would simply go get it, even if that toy was in the hands of a classmate. It turned out that all of the toys Nieve wanted just happened to be in the hands of her classmates. This kept the teachers very busy!

Fortunately for Nieve she has a very sweet older brother attending the same school - he remembered that it was her first day and left his class to go visit her. This seemed to really brighten her spirits - by the time Grammy arrived for pickup no Nieve tears were evident. It really was of his own doing - both Mom and I are quite proud of both of our little ones for managing the day as best as they could. And hopefully tomorrow the new surroundings seem more comfortable to Nieve!