Thursday, September 20, 2012

Climbing Trees

Ronan up in the branches

During our summer trip to San Diego Ronan and Nieve found a gnarled old pine tree in Seagrove Park that I used to play in when I was their age. Without any prompting Ronan ran over and started climbing, moving from limb to limb until he was well above head-level in the branches.

Ronan thought the view was great from the top

Nieve started at the trunk

Nieve watched Ronan's progress up the tree and decided to try it herself. She's not as tall as Ronan and couldn't reach the low limbs he used, so she improvised and tried to scramble up the trunk.

Ronan at the helm of his 'X-Wing Fighter'

We loved watching the two of them weave their way in and around, up and down the tree. Ronan would find thinner branches and bounce on them, seeing how far the bow would bend under his effort.

Nieve keeping a tight grip on things

Nieve stuck to the stable limbs but showed remarkable determination determination and skill in her efforts. When climbing she kept a serious look on her face as she was happy but focused on objective.

'Grippy toe' Ronan pretends the tree is a motorcycle

In the tree the kids' imaginations ran at full speed: Ronan played a mix of Evil Kenevil and Luke Skywalker while Nieve assumed the role of a conquering empress. Mom remarked that their choices in characters closely aligns with their current personalities - Ronan the idealistic daredevil and Nieve as Queen Victoria incarnate.

Nieve, pensive about the future but ready to rule

Nana chuckled at both of them and seemed bemused by the excessive fretting coming from Mom and I about the possibility of either child falling out of the tree. Fortunately it was all humor an no pain; the children remained injury-free and the evening was a collection of laughs and near-misses. Hopefully we'll find another perfect climbing tree soon!


Whenever a train would go by, Ronan would jump down from his perch and run to the cliff's edge to watch it pass. Not a bad way to spend a San Diego sunset.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nieve's First Football Game

The Stanford football season has begun!

Last week I took Ronan and Nieve to opening night of Stanford's 2012 football season. The school year had yet to begin, and it was supposed to be a lopsided game, yet there was plenty of energy and enthusiasm from the fans that did attend.

Chowing down on hot dogs before the game started

While Ronan is a seasoned pro at sporting events, this was Nieve's first football game. Even though the experience was new for her, Nieve was quick to demand a hot dog for dinner and acquired a seat at field level in the rowdy student section.

Intensity is the name of the game during Stanford's opening drive

Her spot selection was fortuitous - in addition to enjoying the buzz of the loudest part of the stadium we were able to meet the Stanford Tree - the marching band's mascot. Not only did Ronan and Nieve ply her for waves and laughs, they also were given Stanford colored bead necklaces for their efforts.

A highlight of the game - meeting the Stanford Tree!

Moreover, the seats were a prime spot to dance to the fight sone "All Right Now", played by the band when Stanford scores. Nieve quickly understood what was happening and showed some impressive dance moves during the celebration. Ronan concentrated on the music and other revelers to time his jump and "whoop!" properly.

Nieve inspecting her newly acquired beaded necklace

After a quarter of raucous field-level seats, Ronan and Nieve tired of trying to see over standing fans and wanted view the game from higher in the stadium. They also wanted more food, so we stopped by the food vendors to pick up a snack. While both kids liked the color and concept of cotton candy, Nieve only had a small bite and Ronan finished less than a quarter of the bag we bought. Soft pretzels proved to be more appealing, with Nieve eating just about all of it.

A little cotton candy is sure to win some smiles

We ate our snacks up in the nosebleeds where both kids were happy to sit, stretch out, and enjoy the fading lights. This game was 'children admitted for free', meaning most of the attendees were families. It also meant that large groups of kids showed initiative and started various games, including pick-up football, in the open spaces of the stadium.

Acting silly after a snack of pretzels and cotton candy

Instead of playing games with the other kids, Ronan and Nieve decided to play hide-and-seek with me. Due to hundreds of running kids, lots of spots to hide, and the absence of light in may areas, it was almost impossible to keep track of both of them. Eventually I caught Ronan and put him to work helping me hunt down Nieve - the game was a blast for the kids but too nerve-racking for me. I'm going to start looking into GPS bracelets for the two of them.

It was getting late and Ronan and Nieve were tired, but the view from above seemed to capture their attention

As the game neared halftime it was clear Nieve was ready to call it a night. Ronan protested our departure but after the long walk back to our bicycle he finally showed signs of fatigue. Both kids seemed to have a blast - we'll try to attend an afternoon game before the season concludes. Hopefully Stanford's offense will frequently score so Ronan and Nieve can perfect their "All Right Now" dance routines!


Nieve's sweet, tired eyes. Even Ronan was just hanging on at the end of the half.