Sunday, August 28, 2011

To the Zoo

A leopard mid-snack

Another stop on our Del Mar vacation was the world famous San Diego Zoo. Both of the kids were excited to see the animals and upon entry Ronan picked the route we were to follow for the day. He was very clear - first the giraffes, then the elephants, then (polar) bears, followed by gorillas, then hippos and finally the tigers. It sounded like a good plan so off we set on foot.

Looking for bonobos

It turns out that walking large portions of varied terrain of the 100 acre park is a bit daunting for toddlers and pre-schoolers, especially in August weather. But we made the most of it and only had to skip visiting the hippos and tigers due to fatigue. Lunch breaks, slurpees, and interactive stations for the kids kept things fun and free of whining kids.

Loving the Skyfari

It was fun to observe what the kids enjoyed most - for Nieve it was probably the leopard eating lunch or the polar bears that were (sort of) goofing around in their exhibit. She also watched the rhinos for quite a while, though she seemed a bit more wary of them. It seemed like her favorite part was simply running around w/Nana... lots of giggles came from the two of them.

Yep, it's fun to run with Nana!

Ronan seemed most happy to be playing with the interactive displays (statues & exhibits designed for kids to get their hands on), especially the helicopter that was next to the Polar Bear Plunge. He also was a jokester, feigning being crushed by the foot of a mammoth and his arm eaten by a prehistoric lion. He also seemed to enjoy the gondola ride, smiling and pointing the entire trip across the park. His favorite animals? It was a tie, between the elephants and the rhino.

Our little jokester

Thanks Nana for treating all of us!

San Diego Zoo 2011

An album of more photos from the zoo

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ronan's Now a Harvest Mouse

He's the cheez whiz, just for Mom, on his first day in his new classroom

Today was Ronan's first day of his new pre-school class... he has moved from being a Tiger Beetle to a Harvest Mouse. Of course Mom wanted the obligatory first-day-of-school photo, so here it is. Ronan accommodated her wishes by smiling so hard his cheeks hurt.

Yet another wise guy for the Harvest Mouse classroom

He seemed to enjoy the new classroom and is quickly getting comfortable with his new teachers. There are bigger and newer toys to play with, including working sphygmomanometers and otoscopes, so that always makes things fun. While Ronan was entertained, I'll refrain from getting excited until they have a working x-ray computed tomography machine or electron microscope to play with (maybe next year, when he becomes a Red Legged Frog).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Napping Nieve

A sunny living room floor? Sure, a fine place to nap.

During our San Diego vacation we probably pushed Nieve a little harder than usual, and she responded by simply collapsing and napping whenever her body needed to take a break. We felt a little bad, but she was so cute resting 'wherever' that we had to share a couple of photos.

Sleeping at the beach. The sound of the waves is very relaxing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

U.S.S. Midway

Just hanging out on an aircraft carrier

Ronan and Nieve toured their first aircraft carrier this week, walking through the now retired U.S.S. Midway. Even though the ship was monstrous in size, the internal spaces were all quite small. Ronan seemed a little unsettled by the lack of natural light and the very tight quarters - I'm not sure he'd make a great sailor. Nieve was just interested in taking it all in from her perch on Mom's back, always straining to get a glimpse of whatever Mom was looking at.

Ronan insisted he wear the same 'ear goggles' that all of the other tourists were wearing

What Ronan and Nieve did enjoy was exploring the cockpits of various aircraft that had served on the aircraft carrier. These cut-away exhibits let people climb into the pilot's seat, flip toggle switches, wiggle joy sticks, and tap gages. Ronan and Nieve did all of this eagerly and were surprisingly compliant to leave if a queue formed behind them.

Someone needs to play Kenny Loggins 'Danger Zone'

Even more fun for the kids was running around the flight deck, exploring retired aircraft (propeller, jet, and rotorcraft) and just generally being free from the dark interior of the ship. Although we tried to explain it to Ronan, I don't think he fully understood that the runway we were walking on was the top of a ship - it was so vast that to him it was part of an airport (or a 'street').

Landing gear. Awesome stuff.

We'll probably revisit the U.S.S. midway in a few years when the kids are curious and patient enough to tour the entire carrier. At that point they should be tall enough to be able to pilot the full-movement flight simulators that are available for those curious as to what it feels like to fly a fighter jet!

More photos...

Monday, August 15, 2011


Scars from a wire-mesh garden prop

Last week Nieve did a face plant into a wire-mesh rabbit (something that you would use for a garden prop) and cut up her nose. I didn't see the accident (and was away for travel the rest of the week) but judging from the scabs her nose took the brunt of it.

A little reading with her brother makes everything better

Thankfully she's on the mend and feeling better with only a small scab on the side of her nose remaining. Heal quickly Buttercup!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Making Use of What's New

Daddy's new rain shell quickly became Ronan's firefighter's jacket

Last week I purchased a new rain jacket - while it's great for it's function (to keep me dry), it is day-glow yellow that hurts to look directly at. Ronan, being a connoisseur of emergency vehicles and their colors, recognized it as something that was designed to call attention.

The sleeves are a bit long, so Ronan has to be careful to keep his hands from disappearing into the cuffs.

Specifically he said it looked like the bright yellow some fire trucks carry and then proceeded to claim that this jacket was his. When asked, "what are you going to use this raincoat for?"
Ronan replied, "It's my new fire jacket."

Happy and even a bit proud of his stylish uniform

I give him credit - when he put on the jacket and his Junior Firefighter's hat he did look the part of a little firefighter. It's refreshing to experience the creativity and fun children bring to new things that are introduced in their environment. That jacket is still painful to look at, but with a smiling Ronan inside, it's a little easier on the eyes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Developing Mind

A current favorite music album of Ronan and Nieve's is Tom Chapin's In My Hometown. It's an "oldie but goodie" with catchy tunes and fun lyrics. One song, Dog Rules", is advice to canines or, "dog tools to help you through your good dog years."

A phone-camera recording of "Dog Rules"

The other night when Mom was putting Ronan to bed he asked her, "Do dogs really follow dog rules?" The question had been weighing on him - he was skeptical that dogs could keep all of the rules straight. He also doubted that the rules really were all that helpful for dogs anyway. I cracked up that he was paying attention to the lyrics and then tried to put those lyrics into context, to test the validity of the advice.