Wednesday, March 30, 2011

From Foodie to Food Snob

Fresh, local strawberries from the farmer's market - they're acceptable. If they are off season from TJ's, forget it.

Two nights ago, when Mom started to pour olive oil on Ronan's pasta, he objected, "No Mom! That's the cooking oil! I want the other oil."

Mom asked, "Which oil do you want?"

"The finishing oil."

Mind you, he was correct on both accounts. We use inexpensive olive oil (Trader Joe's) to cook with and a more tasty extra virgin olive oil (that Ronan picked out... he loved the label) for dipping and dressing. Mom made the mistake of trying to give him the cheap stuff on his food.

On the left, cooking oil. On the right, finishing oil. In our household you should never confuse the two.

We thought this was an isolated incident, but this evening he took offense to Mom trying to give him Kraft-style Parmesan cheese on his beef burgundy. In a sharp tone he scolded Mom, "I said I want Parmesan cheese."

"But this is Parmesan cheese."

"I want you to grate it. I don't want that Parmesan cheese."

"OK, hold on. That's a reasonable request. Here you go. Is that better?"

"Mmmhuh. Thank you."

At some point I'm sure his selectiveness is going to get annoying, "Uh! I cannot eat this macaroni & cheese - it has no prosciutto and the cheese is not Gruyere." but for now I'll humor his demands for haute cuisine.

Good Parmesan cheese on the left - $29.99/lbs. Not-so-good Parmesan cheese on the right - "free-ninety-nine" if you order a fancy pizza to go.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ronan Hits the Hurdles

A future Paly Viking? Ronan's Norse linage (and resident zip code) puts him in good standing

Ronan took his first trip to Palo Alto High School (more often referred to as "Paly") the academic institution he'll likely attend if we find ourselves living in this area when he enters 9th grade. We only had a few minutes to explore the campus, so Ronan wanted to spend that time at the track/football field (the pool was closed).

Inspecting an entire stack of hurdles

What seemed to captivate him most were the hurdles scattered about the track and infield. He couldn't fully grasp that people actually jumped over the hurdles while running. After exploring them a bit he discovered that you could push them down and then get over without much fuss... he thought this was fun.

Getting up after walking through the hurdle behind him

Ronan also liked to run along with some people that were doing sprint workouts on the track... to his credit he was competitive with a few of them (although the 'competition' was not what you'd call elite-level athletes). Who knows? Maybe in a few years Ronan will enjoy racing hurdles for Paly, most likely smiling wildly while plowing through them, rather than gracefully striding over them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lindberg and Earhart

A confident, irreverent Ronan Lindberg, with his primary-colored biplane

I've always been captivated by the idea of human flight - my curiosity was fueled by growing up amongst fighter jets continually taking off and landing at the nearby Naval Miramar Air Station. Ronan has shown a similar fascination. One of his favorite places to visit, especially on rainy days is the Hiller Air Museum. He knows how to say, "dirigible", he loves his model P-51 mustang, and he even dressed up as Snoopy the Flying Ace for halloween two years ago.

Scheming or just being affectionate? Hard to say, but probably a bit of both.

Who loves flying? Nieve, that's who.

Nieve now is following in Ronan's footsteps, going so far as commandeering his wooden airplane for joy rides around the living room. Last night the two of them took turns flying, posing for the camera, and teasing each other. Nieve likes to make motor sounds when she flys (also when she plays with cars, but we'll save that for another post) and practice mid-air acrobatics. She's got a streak of stunt-flying and theatrics in her, for sure... we just hope that her brother will help to keep her grounded.

Showboat! One tumble onto the hardwood floor will temper her enthusiasm for showing off. Until then, we'll get more of the seat-standing and tongue wagging.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's Day

"My name is Irish... so a Happy St. Paddy's Day to all of you!"

"Hey, my name is Irish too... but I've also got crazy hair and crazy teeth!"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nieve the Mini Pouncing Machine

I think Nieve's a sweetie, to be sure, but it seems like her reputation as of late is not exactly sugary. Take, for example, her various nicknames. Mom was first to call Nieve a "pistol" due to her tendency to pop off unexpectadly when she did not get her way. Thanks to her fast hands and intense focus, she was later labeled, "il cobra" after repeated demonstrations of her willful striking skills.

Textbook execution - put the victim face down, pin upper body with one hand, sink chin into the kidney, pull leg up to help maintain control

More recently we've been calling Nieve "honey badger", a name which most people assume is supposed to be cutesy like "honey bear", until they look it up and realize that honey badgers are anything but cutesy. Like Nieve, honey badgers are ferocious, consume large amounts of food, and make crazy grunting sounds when provoked.

It's always important to gloat over the body of your victim...

The past few weeks our little honey badger has taken to attacking Mom, Ronan and me when we least expect it. She'll wait until we're lying down so access to our vital organs is assured. Nieve uses her speed to quickly crawl over and then dives straight for whatever soft spot is exposed, typically the midsection or neck area. She makes quick work of her prey and when it's over she rolls to her back and lies on her trophy, recovering her energy for a moment until she sets out after her next victim.

She's finished off Mom and now looking for who's next

Saturday, March 12, 2011


This evening Ronan was doing his regular pre-bath routine of silliness. Tonight it was kicking around a beach ball styled as a globe and basically flailing around without much regard for anyone or anything in his room.

Door edge - 1, Ronan's forehead - 0

It's usually not much of a problem as far as he's concerned, as Ronan does not mind falling, stepping on things, or bumping into walls. It turns out he *does* mind running forehead-first into the edge of an open door. The doors in his room are impressive - sturdy and large. They are also unyielding and unforgiving, especially when hit directly on-axis through the hinges. I did not see the impact but I heard it - a loud, ominous thump, a few moments of silence, and then Ronan's angry, pain-filled cry.

He looks cuddly and subdued with his Happy here, but put a ball in front of him and watch him go berzerk

The outcome is not nearly as bad it could have been - there was relatively little blood and Ronan never lost consciousness - but he grew a nice little hematoma that will most likely become a tough looking black eye tomorrow. I had hoped the pain would have taught Ronan a lesson, one about the consequences of being recklessness, but after bath he was right back at it, kicking the globe and crashing into things. Sigh. I've resigned to simply be exceedingly grateful for decent health insurance.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nieve Gets Her Sea Legs

Llama's make for effective walking props

Almost made it!

Nieve took her first steps a few weeks ago but she's still approaching walking with caution. Her reservation is just fine by Grammy, as a mobile Nieve makes caring for her even more challenging. This evening, Grammy's walk-stalling efforts were undermined by Auntie Sheila's determination to get Nieve taking steps on her own.

Auntie She sez, "Best of luck Grammy! Hahahahahahahah!"

Nieve did several runs, walking the eight or so feet from Auntie She to me with growing confidence. All it took was a little coaxing by holding up her 'Honey Bunny' and saying a few encouraging words. Nieve was visibly proud of herself, smiling through her efforts and looking at all of us for praise and adoration.

"It's so easy I can do it with my eyes closed!"

As much as Mom and I are indescribably proud of Nieve it was Auntie She that was beaming most at Nieve's progress. I'm not sure if it's because Auntie She revels in her niece's accomplishments or takes devilish delight in knowing Grammy's going to have her hands full tomorrow, but it's likely a little of both.

She had intense focus and determination, her arms wide at the ready... oh and Nieve had a little of that as well

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Four Teeth

Hey look, I've got some toothpaste to use on my four (not exactly aligned) teeth!

Nieve now has four teeth - both of her two lower central incisors are in as well as her upper right center and upper right lateral incisors. Sure, it's not symmetric, but she seems to be able to cut through her food of choice without much effort.

Our happy little girl... with crooked teeth. In lieu of presents for her first birthday, we're asking friends and family to start an orthodontic fund.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Beginnings of a Climber

Both Mom and I enjoy rock climbing from time to time (though we are are at best climbing novices) but we've been reticent to encourage climbing in Ronan or Nieve for fear of finding them dangling off the side of the stairs or wedged above the refrigerator. We've been lucky so far as Ronan does not climb much inside and thus things that need to stay out of the hands of little ones are still safe when tucked away above head level.

Starting out on the holds and planning the route

Getting the left foot on a hold to step up on

Powering up

Nice arm extension, checking again for footholds

... and finished!

Outside, though, Ronan seems to have honed his climbing skills at school and on the playground. The past weekend I watched him adeptly climb up a little wall designed for kids - I was impressed at his hand placements, his footwork, and his process of looking for his next move and then executing it. His weight distribution wasn't bad and he understood that stepping up with his legs was more important than trying to do pull-ups with his arms. Although I'm still not encouraging Ronan or Nieve to climb yet, I must say that the thought of future weekends on rock faces with the kids put a smile on my face!