Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rough and Tumble Nieve

It's hard to look mean and nasty, even with a black eye, when you are standing in a pack-and-play decorated with cartoon animals

It's more accurate just to call her 'Tumble Nieve" but given that she's starting to toughen up we'll give her the 'rough' as a consolation. The other night Nieve excitedly jumped head-first onto a bean bag, not noticing the solid teak coffee table behind it. A loud 'whump' and some even louder cries indicated that she had hit that unnoticed table.

Nieve's 'I'm in timeout' face... only this time sporting a bruise

A few minutes later a large lump and some bruising was evident on her left eye. Thankfully the initial swelling went down after some ice and hugs from Mom, leaving only a mean-looking shiner in it's place. The photos in this post were taken a few days after the impact when most of the bruise had been reabsorbed.

"Whatchu lookin' at?"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Little Girl's Got New Shoes

PJs & shoes... thankfully these shoes are more like moccasins

Nieve very well may be a fashionista in the making. Right now she's a "shoehorse" - our household's Imelda Marcos - and her passion for footwear is only increasing.

Nieve is excited to show off the motoring doggie on her shoe

Take for example her new Robeez. They are undeniably cute, and as they have a dog riding a little red (pink) Vespa I'm pretty sure Nana will approve. Unfortunately we ordered them two sizes too big for our dainty-footed little girl. We'll have to exchange them for a smaller size but Nieve won't stop wearing them... she made us put them back on *after* she had bathed and put on her PJs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Night in SF

Pajama time for the little ones... Nieve was already fast asleep

On Friday we we took our friends Lisa and Rich up on their offer to join them for an evening in San Francisco. They have two little ones as well, Laina and Bennet, who are almost-5 and almost-3. Ronan and Nieve were in heaven - the four kids got to run around in a beautiful flat downtown, and watch the cars, busses, and streetcars make their way along Market Street ten stories below.

Ronan enjoying the city lights

Nieve loved enjoying the view - so much so that she used her socks to wipe away any smudges she made

It's fun to see just how creative kids are with new spaces. The deep window wells provided ample opportunity to climb and hide in, and when the kids were brave enough, a platform to jump off of. In the bedroom they made a massive pillow 'nest' and proceeded to use it as a giant down airbag to cushion their leaps off of the extra-tall beds.

A very fun interior to match the outside

The next morning we decided to get a tourist activity in and hoped to ride a cable car over Telegraph Hill. Unfortunately two hundred other people had the same idea before us, so we decided to ride a MUNI streetcar (trolley) to the Ferry Building instead.

Having fun in the back of the streetcar - Laina chose the best seats for our big group

Our historic streetcar - painted in the Baltimore Transit Company yellow and grey

The Saturday morning farmer's market made the Ferry Building Plaza a bustling place - Ronan was impressed by the sheer number of people milling about. He also desperately wanted to ride the zip line that was constructed overhead and was disappointed when I informed him he was not heavy enough.

No zip line for Ronan, but he did cajole some firefighters to let him sit in the cab and ring the engine's bell

After a tasty lunch and watching some boats on the bay we walked the kids back to the hotel. Both Ronan and Nieve crashed on the ride home - they were worn out from all of the playing and walking. Thanks Lisa, Rich, Laina & Bennet - let's do it again soon!

Watching for boats

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nieve's First Photograph

Nieve has been watching me take photographs for the past year, watching how I hold the camera and press the shutter. The other evening on our post-dinner walk we ran into our good friend and neighbor, Marianne. Nieve was in my arms and kept grabbing at the camera, and eventually her little finger made it's way to the shutter release. I helped her point it at Marianne but Nieve snapped the photo - for her first photograph she did pretty well!

Her smile is sparkling... but her laugh is even better

Marianne is loved by Ronan - he gravitates to her and always is on his best behavior when she's around. Mom says Marianne's laugh is the most infectious laugh she's ever heard. I agree. If you are ever lucky enough to meet her, crack a corny joke and hope for the best. It also happens to be Marianne's birthday, so from all of us - Happy Birthday!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Eye for Beauty

Trying to understand where all that brilliance came from

Nieve is a perceptive little girl - she seems remarkably astute for someone who still wears diapers. It's fun to watch her take inventory of things and people around her, but it's a challenge if you hope to employ the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to breaking her fixation on something she wants but cannot have.

"Daddy, if you think the leaves are impressive when backlit, check out my hair!"

On our post dinner stroll Nieve noticed the waining sunlight filtering through a Japanese Maple. The backlight leaves glowed a brilliant scarlet and the gentle breeze made them sway and sparkle. Nieve let out a little yelp, toddled quickly over to the leaves, and played with them, trying to understand what made them look so alive. Like the leaves, she was beautiful to watch.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And now, on to Scooting

A straight front wheel would be nice, but otherwise his pushing form is getting pretty good

Ronan's transition from push bike to pedal bike was faster than we expected; now he's working to master riding a scooter. Scooting has been solely his initiative as both Mom and I cringe at all of the cracks in the sidewalk that pose problems from the small scooter wheels.

I need to find an in-phone video editor (at least cropping start/stop points) to shorten the video to the relevant parts!

Even with Mom and my discouragement (or perhaps because of?), Ronan is becoming proficient at using his scooter. He'll zip around our deck with it's poor fitting boards and deftly weave around obstacles such as a hammock and a pair of adirondack chairs.

I recognize that look of bliss that comes from riding... be it on a scooter, skateboard, snowboard, or surfboard

On the street he seems at ease, not worried about things like sticks or other tree debris that may cause him problems. He even showboats a bit, either locking you in his gaze as he cruises by or doing something fancy with his non-scooting foot.

Showing the same dangerous deficiency he has on the bike - the inability to keep his eyes focused in front of him

Mom bought him a set of wrist/elbow/knee guards in preparation for his journey into skateboarding - if he keeps showing his tendencies for risky scooting, we'll armor him up before we let him off the deck.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nieve's First Ice Cream Cone

Nieve, mimicking Mom's ice cream eating technique

Mom loves ice cream and now that summer has finally arrived she wanted to share this love with Nieve. According to Mom there is a proper method to introducing ice cream flavors to little ones - vanilla first as it's both the most agreeable to picky pallets as well as the least staining on their clothes.

Ronan knows his way around an ice cream cone

It was interesting to watch Nieve navigate the treat - she observed Ronan's cone-eating technique (he devoured it) but decided to take her own approach. In fact, for several minutes she would only fake a lick - she'd get it close to her mouth, make a "Mmmmnn" sound, and then giggle but not actually consume any ice cream. She was more interested in holding the cone and showing Mom her obviously treasured prize.

"Look! Ice cream!"

Nieve was not so sure she liked watching Mom eat her ice cream

Once Nieve did try the ice cream she was hooked. Not only did she love eating it, she now understood why Mom made such a big deal out of it. Nieve spent a good five minutes teasing Mom with her cone and not letter her have another bite.

Nieve won't let Mom have her ice cream cone

It's going to be a fun summer with lots of after dinner walks thanks to the warm evenings. To help keep the kids happy and cool I'm sure many of these walks will include Mom's favorite frozen treat!

A wagon and some ice cream - all that is required for the perfect post-dinner walk

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day Parade

Ronan got a wave from the lead fire engine at the Family Fourth Parade

This year we decded to try a bit of Americana to celebrate the Fourth of July. The Redwood City Family Fourth Parade's theme this year featured the city's fire department, and neither Nieve nor Ronan had been to a parade before, so we decided to make a morning of it.

More fire trucks... this one a ladder truck with a fireman at the tiller

To make the outing even more fun our friends Janet, Sandy, Emily and her friend joined us. We met at the California Ave. station and rode CalTrain to Redwood City, avoiding the traffic and parking issues that come with tens of thousands of spectators and street closures along the parade route. Ronan couldn't have been happier as his love of mass transit is on par with his affection for fire trucks.

An old engine passing in front of city hall

We were surprised at the large number of people that turned out to watch the parade - the crowd was at least four deep, even deeper in spots with shade, for almost the entire route. We walked until we found a spot where we could get the kids an unobstructed view.

Practicing his parade wave to an old fire truck

Ronan was captivated by the parade - he loved watching all of the various entries go by and did his part to wave at those participating. It goes without saying that he loved the fire trucks, but Ronan was also impressed by other vehicles that rolled through from SWAT trucks to 50-year-old cement mixers.

Ronan switched hands to wave from time to time, I presume because all that waving get tiring

Ronan's favorite truck - and admittedly it was a beauty. Surprising one could say that, given it was a cement mixer.

He also was excited to point out the police boat being towed around the route and noted that it had flashing lights. There was a Ronan-sized T-bird replica that absorbed all of Ronan's attention - I had to hold on to him for fear that he would run into the middle of the parade and ask for a turn to drive it.

The Mini-me of Thunderbirds... Ronan was salivating

For non-vehicle entries Ronan enjoyed the Cal Aggie Marching Band-Uh!, much to Mom's delight. He also liked the Leland Stanford Jr. Marching Band but their antics made him cautious, for good reason. Ronan was sweet to point out for Nieve the horses when they marched by.

Go Ags!

The horse guard... a hit with both kids

Unlike Ronan, Nieve was a bit off on the trip. The train was standing room only on the way to the parade, and the poor little girl was stuck in the stroller with only adult knees for a view. It was also a warm day, and Nieve does not like being hot, so that too was a contributing factor in her fussiness.

Finally having fun on Mom's shoulders

But once we found a spot and she was able to toddle around and work the crowd Nieve started to smile again. She *loved* the horses that Ronan pointed out, bouncing on Mom's shoulders and making clip-clop hoof sounds. Anytime there was music, be it from a band or from an amplified speaker, Nieve would start to dance.

Nieve making friends. Mind you she cannot talk, but her intonations and gestures seem to get her point across fairly effectively, even to people who have never met her.

All that dancing and socializing wore Nieve out - as we made our way back to the station Nieve fell asleep in the stroller. Thankfully the train was barely filled on the return trip so it provided a quiet place for her to snooze.

And... she's out!

Full of anticipation for the train ride home

Ronan spent the ride back chatting up Janet, giggling and telling stories the entire way. She was magical with him, and, when asked, Ronan's favorite part of the outing was, "Fire trucks, and my conversation" [with Janet]. In Ronan's world, no higher compliment could be paid.

A sleepy Nieve gets some deserved rest

Mr. Social, talking up Janet

Ronan and Nieve hope that all of you had a Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011