Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Extra Large Pink Flip-Flops, and a Swing

"What, you've never seen stylish footwear before?"

Last month Nieve became obsessed with a pair of pink flip flops we have as 'loaners' in the backyard. She put them on and refused to take them off even though she continually tripped and stumbled because of them.

Safely getting on a swing can be a challenge. Poor footwear selection makes it even harder...

Watching Nieve putter around in the absurd footwear was entertaining enough, but she really brought the house down when she tried swinging in them. Her little toes were not nearly strong enough to keep the size 11 sandals from flying off yet she demanded that they be put back on her feet.

...but look how proud Nieve is when she figures it out and proves Mom and I wrong

Of course Nieve did not want to dismount from the swing to reattach her footwear so we had to carefully replace Cinderella's slippers gently mid-process. It was humorous to all of us except Nieve, who maintained an indignant air of superiority thanks to her clearly stylish footwear. Alas, this may be a harbinger of things to come.

It's funny and cute now... in the future perhaps less so?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Memorial Park with Friends

Ronan found solace by camping in a redwood forest

We've been planning to take Ronan and Nieve on their 'first camping' trip for a while; we've scheduled attempts several times but life with children does not always go as planned. A few weeks ago our friends Emily, Sam, Janet and Sandy invited us to share their campsite at nearby Memorial Park; we were free, and so we jumped at the chance.

Standing on the base of a very tall tree (225 feet tall and over 1600 years old); Ronan called it "The Big Boy"

Memorial Park is the perfect spot for the first-time Bay Area camper - it's close, it's beautiful (think of a forest full of 150 ft Redwood Trees), and it's family friendly (working bathrooms with hot showers and children everywhere).

A very tall redwood tree towering above a quiet, content boy

The kids reactions were fairly close to what we had expected. Ronan *loved* it - the tents, the campfire, the night hike to the river, the day hike jumping into the cold river - he was in his element. I bunked with him and he slept soundly; he was also the first of all of us up in the morning, eager to go explore as soon as his eyes opened.

A rare moment when Nieve was enjoying the outdoors. She made her way into the camper every chance she got.

Nieve, on the other hand, could do without the outdoors. Whenever we walked anywhere (even the bathroom) she would insist on being carried, be it in a backpack or in my arms. Worse yet, our friends brought their cozy trailer-camper (one that pops up and has a couple of queen sized beds); Nieve would have spent every minute inside of it if we let her. If left alone outside she's dart as fast as she could back to the camer door and climb back in. She even started crying when it was being folded up at the end of the second day.

Blueberry Mickey Mouse pancakes!!!

There were a few of activities that both kids loved; a glo-stick night hike looking for bats (we did not find any), s'mores cooked over the campfire, and blueberry pancakes in the morning. Janet even made Ronan a Mickey Mouse-shaped pancake that has set the gold standard for all breakfasts to come.

Ronan petting his new friend the banana slug

By the light of the campfire Emily told us how she joined the 'banana slug club' when she was young by kissing a banana slug. The next morning Ronan mustered up the courage and joined as well. I was floored. Bravo, Ronan, I suppose.

What both Ronan and Nieve loved best, however, was all of the attention they received from Emily and Sam (upperclassmen in High School). Ronan and Nieve would continually pester them to play and explore - Mom and I were amazed at how generous Sam and Emily were with their time.

Stream hopping in StarWars underpants is always fun

In all we'd say our first time camping was a great success. Nieve started to warm to the experience and with a little more 'training' I'm sure she'll adapt nicely to an activity that the other three of us enjoy. A big thank you to Sandy, Janet, Sam and Emily for making the trip delightful!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fountain Hopping

Getting ready for the plunge

Students at Stanford University have a tradition of "Fountain Hopping", or splashing around in one or more of the dozen working water features scattered around on campus. The most popular fountain to hop in is 'The Claw' located in front of the Bookstore, and on a hot day you will likely find a half dozen students there cooling themselves off in the water.

Ronan coming back after climbing on The Claw

When Ronan heard that someone added detergent to a few of the fountains in an (somewhat successful) effort to make suds, we headed over on our bikes to get in on the fun.

Cold, but going back for more

Ronan wasn't alone during his first fountain hop; there were several other like minded people taking a dip in the frothy water. Ronan would squeal with delight as he'd run up to the spraying sculpture, climb on it for a bit, and head quickly back to me as if he was trying not to get caught.

There is always time to jump in another fountain

Ronan's already profiting off of others wishes...

He also performed the service of 'wish cleaning' by picking up the change others had thrown into the fountain for luck, inspecting the coins, and returning them to the water. No, no wishes returned with us in Ronan's pockets (the thought did cross his mind, as he has a dinosaur piggy bank that Ronan likes to feed coins to).

A chilly boy 'lizarding' to warm up on a sunny wall

The cool water and steady breeze eventually made svelte Ronan cold so he finally called it a day and laid on the hot bricks and stucco walls while drying off. Ronan laid down on his tummy, shivering, and let the hot surface warm and the sunshine warm him back up.

Yep, the day kind of tasted like this

No day of playing in the sun is perfect without a cold treat so Ronan and I split a chocolate frozen yogurt from Fraiche. By 'split' I mean that I watched Ronan plow through a cup of that creamy stuff in less than five minutes. I suppose that water play does make one hungry!

A happy boy

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Good Time to Fly a Kite

Ronan coaxing the kite higher

Just behind our house a trail leads to 'kite hill', a treeless mound that offers excellent views of the San Francisco Bay and parts of the Silicon Valley. When there is a breeze the mound is a great place to fly a kite - hence the hill's name.

Ronan tried to get his gecko kite to reach the moon

Ronan has always loved flying things - helicopters, planes, blimps, spacecraft (and more recently X-Wing and TIE Fighters) so he was delighted to head to kite hill and fly his stylish gecko. Given the fickle breeze Ronan did pretty well to keep the kite aloft for several minutes, after which he was more interested in running around and exploring than standing in the same spot holding a string.

As the wind subsided the kite sank lower and eventually returned to the ground, as did Ronan's interest in flying the kite