Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Lovely Evening Stroll

Mom and Nieve, alert and enjoying the view from the top of a hill at sunset

May's warm, bright evenings make for perfect post-dinner family walks. Behind our house a dirt trail leads to a hill that overlooks the San Francisco Bay. The sinking sun throws long shadows and dusts up a warm breeze; it's the time of day when Nieve and Ronan love most to get out and stretch their legs.

I like Mom's smile and Nievesque pig tails in this photo so I included it in this post

Ronan's now quite fast when we go for walks; he runs ahead to explore whatever may be awaiting around the next bend. I'm usually walking at a constant, brisk pace just to keep up with him.

Nieve will always stop and pick a purple flower when we let her. She now knows that iceplant is fair game for picking.

Nieve moves at a far slower pace, stopping to smell (pick) flowers and take the time to keenly observe whatever catches her eye. She loves trying to keep up with Ronan but inevitably something closer commands her attention and she takes a fun detour.

I love this photo as it exemplifies Mom and Nieve's personalities

On this evening last week the weather was perfect. We had started off our walk in the usual manner, but when Ronan and I started back towards home we found Mom and Nieve sitting atop the hill that overlooks the bay. The two of them were sharing the view (and a piece of gum), enjoying the last of the evening light. They also were watching a nearby Great Blue Heron which Ronan promptly, though unintentionally chased off.

Was that a kiss? No...

I'm looking forward to a summer full of after dinner walks, as there is no better way to close our a warm day with the family.


...it was Nieve stealing Mom's gum, and Nieve was clearly delighted about it

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hiking to Find Horses

Find horses? How about *ride* a horse?

This morning Ronan, Nieve and I headed to our local hiking spot, Arastradero Preserve, for a walk. Ronan enjoys hiking as he gets the freedom to explore at his pace. Nieve is less of a runner and more of an observer, always alert, pointing out animals, flowers and the ever-present horse poop (this was also a favorite activity of Ronan's when he was her age).

Give a four year old boy an inch...

...and he'll climb to the top of the haystack

Usually the highlight of our hikes is coming across horses from Portola Pastures being exercised on the Arastradero trails. Most of the riders are both friendly and patient, meaning the kids get to pet the horses, ask their names, and if they are very lucky feed the horse a treat.

Ronan learning how and when to give a horse some water

Today luck took them a step further; not only did they get to meet several horses they cajoled a very friendly equestrian, Larry, into letting them ride a horse. Larry was great, from explaining the basics of horse care to telling jokes; he also introduced the kids to his friendly dog Marcus.

Nieve looked like a pro on a horse... and she loved it

It was very kind of Larry to take the time to entertain the kids - they loved meeting/feeding/grooming/riding his horses and talked about it the entire walk back to the car and ride home. Given how much both kids seemed to enjoy the stables I wouldn't be surprised if they took up riding when they become a bit older!


Nieve and Ronan ready to set out on a ride

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Weekend with Uncle Todd and Auntie Melissa

"My weekend with Auntie M and Uncle T? Thumbs up!"

Two of Ronan and Nieve's favorite people, Uncle Todd and Auntie Melissa, were in town this weekend for a visit. The kids were on cloud nine (and not just because of the generous gifts), clearly enjoying just catching up/hanging out with our guests.

Happy kiddos hanging out with Auntie M

If you ask Ronan or Nieve I'm sure they'd say that the tasty food (a couple dozen Dee Dee Reese cookies, some cupcakes, and even a couple of lollypops) and birthday gifts (a doll now named "Medusa", a cool modular car, and some sweet Legos) that T & M brought were a highlight of our time together.

Ronan playing with his new off-road Lego truck, a gift from Auntie M and Uncle T

Why yes, that is a carmel-covered sour-apple lollypop Ronan is eating... guess who gave it to him?

While the kids did love the treats it was clear that what really made them happy was the one on one time they spent with their Aunt and Uncle. Ronan loved building Legos with Uncle Todd while Nieve cajoled Auntie Melissa into an hour's worth of pushing the swings in the backyard.

Nieve's motivation here is pretty clear... she loves her Auntie M but does she love her as much as she loves Auntie M's birthday cheesecake?

The kids also liked to show off for our visitors. Ronan took Auntie Mel and Uncle T on a long bike ride all over the Stanford campus, from lunch spot to fountains to finally home again (it was a four hour adventure).

Snack time! The kids have some food during our bicycle tour of the Stanford campus

Nieve made sure to demonstrate her love of dancing; when we made a stop at the annual Native American Pow Wow that Stanford hosts, Nieve busted her moves to whatever rhythm happened to be playing. She also pointed out all of the interesting costumes, especially those with feathers on the back of the torso and head (Nieve called them 'wings' and was very impressed).

Nieve, cool as a cucumber

There were several sweet moments as well. In a rare display of clarity (for an excitable 4-year-old boy) Ronan said, "Uncle Todd is the best. If I feel sad, I'll just dream about him."

Uncle T's shoulders make for a great place to sit and rest. His head also makes an excellent road to drive a lego jeep on.

And when Auntie M and Uncle T were leaving on Sunday, Nieve quietly whispered, "Bye, bye" in a sweet little voice. It was a great weekend that was fun for all of us - thanks Auntie Mel and Uncle Todd for making the trip up!


The kids happily looking for bugs while Uncle T and Auntie M wonder if all kids are so strange