Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hello Ana Lucia!

A perfectly cuddle-able little girl

A few weeks ago Ronan and Nieve were able to spend an hour with Ana Lucia, our good friend's almost-four-month old daughter. Ana Lucia is a boneafide cutie with gentle dark brown eyes and a very calm but engaging personality.

Ana gets to know Ronan while he gently strokes her head

Ronan quickly learned how to get Ana to track his wiggling fingers

Like Mom and I, Ronan was captivated by little Ana and was eager to hold her in his arms. He was giddy yet gentle while holding her, making her smile and keeping her engaged with cooing noises and fluttering fingers.

I remember this feeling well - it struck when I was younger and someone would put a baby on my lap. I would think to myself, "Uh, OK, what do I do with this?" Of course I was 27 years old at the time, so I suppose it's a bit premature to judge Nieve.

Even toddlers think infants are cute when they do stuff like grabbing fingers

Nieve wasn't so easily convinced of the virtues of infants. She was curious about Ana but was hesitant and a bit awkward while holding her. Nieve cracked a smile a few times when Ana would grab her fingers, but otherwise Nieve looked to be simply running out the clock on her time with Ana.

Mom and Ana share a little face time

Mom of course loved little Ana Lucia and noted on all of Ana's sweet smelling little parts and irresistibly chubby cheeks. It was a short and sweet visit and we are looking forward to seeing Ana again soon!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

A warm summer evening at the ballpark

Ronan has been showing quite a bit of interest in sports; as Mom loves baseball she planned an evening at the ballpark for the family. Rather than the expensive outing to San Francisco she found tickets to the San Jose Giants, the San Francisco Giants Division A farm team. It was still a bit of a drive (thankfully no traffic) but the game started at 5:00pm (as opposed to 7:00pm) and being division A ball the atmosphere was welcoming and casual.

Hey, it's baseball - the long pauses in action on the field means fans have to think up things to keep themselves entertained

The experience did not disappoint - Ronan loved the vocal-but-not-too-loud crowd, the goofy gorilla mascot, and the kitschy activities put on for the fans that filled the time between the innings.

Nieve heckled the third baseman who's error costs the Giants a run

Nieve had a different take - until the sixth inning she refused to take a seat in the stands. The mix of interrupted sleep, roaring crowd, and bright sun sent her to tears. Mom, Auntie She and I took turns hanging out with her in the concession area, away from the intimidating and uncomfortable stands.

Mom and Nieve talk about why the baserunner go no matter what when the count is 3-2 with two outs

Both kids agreed that ballpark food was scrumptious with Ronan proving his point by eating an extra-large hot dog, half a pizza, chips/snacks, and half of a cherry slushy. Nieve was particularly fond of the slushy; in fact it was that sweet icy drink that turned her spirits around and made her enjoy being in the stands.

Ronan was pleased with his cherry slushee tongue

While the quality of the game wasn't on par with the big leagues (I've never seen so many pitches hit the ground several feet in front of the plate) the environment was clearly structured to keep local crowds happy. Decent food options, picnic tables to sit at, and friendly hosts made the environment welcoming.

More rules explained - unlike cricket, the pitcher is not supposed to bounce the ball off of the ground prior to it reaching home plate

The park caters to children as well - Ronan and Nieve spent three full innings enjoying the fair-inspired game center with activities like bouncy houses, batting cages, and skee ball. It was fun to see children trying out their arm or testing their swing for a chance to win prizes. Ronan showed some promise in batting - he connected 2/3 of the time on pitches thrown by the staff manning the cages.

Not even Ronan's rally-cap could help the SJ Giants - the Visalia Rawhide won 8-3

After the game was over children were invited to run the bases (start at first, round second, leave the field at third); both Ronan and Nieve jumped at the chance. From first to second base Ronan thought he had to stay in the order they entered the field, meaning he jogged politely behind the children in front of him but clearly anxious to pick up speed.

Ronan ready to step out onto the field

When Ronan rounded second he realized he could run as fass as he wanted to and he picked up the pace. The entire time his face was one huge grin, clearly visible from the stands. He *delighted* in it - it's possible he'll spend a disproportionate amount of his time on playing fields as he grows older.

Ronan flashing some impressive speed between second and third - I'd say he showed more hustle than half the ball players that were actually competing

Nieve liked running the bases as well, but her turn was more a measured trot (holding Mom's hand) with a stop at second to debate Mom about removing her sandals. Mom won out (the sandals stayed on) and Nieve happily tagged third on her way off of the field.

Nieve tagging third - Mom forgot to explain that just a foot will do

It was an outing that the kids (and Mom and Auntie She) thoroughly enjoyed - I'm sure that won't be the last SJ Giants game we attend.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mermaid Hair

OK, Nieve more closely resembles a sprite or pixie, but a little artistic latitude can be afforded for a good cause

During her evening bath Nieve is usually stubbornly obstructionist about letting us rinse the shampoo out of her hair. She's fine with wetting and scrubbing but her fear of suds in the eyes, and dislike for having her ears submerged in water make it a fight to rid her hair of shampoo.

Nieve's still a little nervous about the water near her ears...

One trick that does seem to work, however, is to tell Nieve that she has "mermaid hair" when she lies on her back in the tub. I think she's read the story of Ariel one too many times. It comes as no surprise that tapping into Disney's magic as a powerful motivator is especially effective on style-conscious children like Nieve.

... but I suppose the praise went too far... now she's showing off

Yes, I'm manipulating her (to her own benefit, I argue), but she is so pleased to hear, "Nieve, wow! Your hair! It's flowing gently from side to side, like a mermaid!" that I feel a bit less guilty about it. And to be fair, if mermaids were to exist, I imagine their hair might look similar to Nieve's when she's bathing in the tub.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Whopper of a Tale

Do you think the kids are ready to get out on the water?

A quick trip to Foothills Park is a regular weekend outing for us - it's close, it's beautiful, and it's a great place to spend time on a sunny summer day. Foothills Park also boasts Boronda Lake, a nice little spot for a leisurely kayak trip.

That's two happy girls, the younger with her own makeshift fishing kit (using lake grass as her line and bait)

Boronda Lake also provides a spot for locals to fish - largemouth bass, red ear sunfish, and catfish can all be seen swimming in the lake. Last week our friendly neighbor Tom gave Ronan a new fishing pole and we decided that Boronda Lake would be the perfect spot to test the little rod.

Ronan is big enough to sit back-to-back with me... and what better to do back there than fish?

Rather than cast from the dock we decided to head out to the 'deep' waters and troll for fish off of the kayaks. Ronan sat back-to-back with me, dragging his lure in the water behind us as we paddled around the lake.

This is "good" trolling... as opposed to purposefully inflammatory comments posted to online articles

Neither Mom nor I thought there was any chance that Ronan would catch anything, given we have no idea how to fish and he was using a 25-year-old lure I found in the garage (a fake worm). We were simply worried that he'd hook himself (also on a 25-year-old hook) and require a tetanus shot.

Ronan reeled in his prize

Ronan proved us wrong - not only did he avoid getting speared by (or spearing anyone else with) his hook, he landed a large mouth bass, albeit a small one. Mom noticed the fish first, yelling out to Ronan to tug on his line and to work his reel. We pulled over to a shallow spot in the lake and I helped Ronan unhook and hold his first fish. He was so excited and proud of landing the little bass.

A proud little boy and his first fish

Like all good anglers, the size of Ronan's fish grew like Pinocchio's nose every time he hold his tale. By the time Papa heard about it at dinner, Ronan's fish was a good three feet long and too heavy for both Ronan and I to lift it out of the water. By next week I'm sure the story will play out like Moby Dick or Old Man of the Sea.

Mom and Nieve know how to kayak in style

No matter the size of the catch, be it a minnow or the Kraken, we'll likely add fishing as one of the many fun outdoor activities we do as a family. And thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, we've got lots of worms at home for bait (we have a vermicomposter)!

When we got back to the dock Ronan refused to stop putting a line in the water - it looks like fishing's got Ronan hooked!