Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spooning Around

"Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?"

Ronan has reached the age of jokesterism (while Nieve is natural born prankster) and this evening he tried his hand at hanging spoons from his nose. It only took him a few attempts to master and I was impressed that he tried to eat dessert while having the spoon dangle in front of his face. We chuckled at his cleverness, and I'm certain this is only a harbinger of things to come.

Ronan trying to eat his homemade 'singed' salted caramel sauce with a spoon on his face

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nieve Takes to Two Wheels

Nieve is learning to roll with it

When Ronan turned two he could hardly wait to get on a bike and start riding. Nieve, on the other hand, has been far less enthusiastic about riding a two-wheeler. She has the necessary strength and skill for the push bike, but she typically chooses to simply be a passenger and make Mom or I do all of the work (this also saves her from the pesky and sometimes painful crashing).

However, over the past couple of weeks, Nieve has taken an interest in riding. The difference? Probably the new set of pretty streamers Mom attached to her handlebars. Whatever the reason, during recent outings Nieve has gone much further and faster than she's typically willing to. We have a long way until she's on a pedal bike, but I'm already looking forward to doing Stanford campus and Arastradero rides as a family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Not Your Father's X-Wing Fighter

20th Century movie meets 21st Century child. Still fun and engaging, after all these years

When I was a child I loved Star Wars and loved Lego, but the two only mixed when my Han Solo action figure was accidentally put away in haste in my Lego parts bin. Fast forward a few decades and my children are developing their own passion for Star Wars (even though they have yet to see any of the movies) and are already full blow Lego addicts (though Nieve, at 2.5 years old, is still in the 'Duplo' phase).

The Lego designers for the X-Wing Fighter did a fantastic job. It's a technical and complicated build (for a 4 year old) but the results are impressive.

What's different is the enterprising folks at Lego and Lucas Film (now Disney) have decided to team up to sell more merchandise. Lego has been busy building custom parts and paint schemes to make their modular kits look strikingly similar to the machines in the films. And Lego must be employing a crack design team - I was surprised at how clever the layout and assembly was for this kit.

A happy boy with his X-Wing Fighter. Darth Vader's TIE-Fighter is next!

The only drawback to these accurate Lego models is that kids don't want to disassemble their creations and build something from their own imagination. Ronan constructed this X-Wing Fighter in September and it's still in pristine condition. Hopefully soon he'll take it apart and build something else that is current at the top of his obsession list - like a stunt plane. Oh, and Lego has yet to solve their biggest drawback - the pain they inflict when stepped upon by bare feet.

Monday, November 12, 2012

More Magic at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

My favorite part of our trip to MBA this fall - feeding time at the Open Sea exhibit

No trip to the Monterey Peninsula is complete without a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's one of the kid's favorite places to visit, and our trips there have made a notable impact on their knowledge and love of our oceans.

The kids being sweet to each other? This *must* be a magical place!

It's fun to see which parts of the aquarium best engage Ronan and Nieve. During this trip we were able to watch the Open Sea feeding - Nieve and Ronan sat transfixed for at least 20 mins (a record for Ronan), watching the fish, sea turtles, and sharks feed with urgency.

This is Ronan's 'must do' activity when we visit the aquarium and he's become exceedingly efficient at it

Ronan was particularly mesmerized by the school of sardines - they moved as a giant, glistening wave, washing over the length of the exhibit, twisting and turning as they snatched up their food.

"Daddy, there! There's Ronan!"

As usual, Ronan also loved feeding time at the Kelp Forest exhibit. In what seems to be the continuation of a tradition, he volunteered (again) to show the audience how thick the exhibit's acrylic is by putting his hands opposite those of the diver in the tank.

Nieve expanding her comfort zone, one little touch at a time

This time Nieve was interested in the petting pools, touching urchins, sea starts and abalone shells. And a tip of the hat to Mom - after Nieve finished at the touching pool she walked over and washed her hands without any prompting from me.

Ronan intently listening to a presentation on the migratory patterns of great white sharks

Another new activity tried was attending a short lecture on Ronan's subject du jour - great white sharks. We were surprised that both kids paid attention for the entire presentation, and that Ronan both understood and remembered the most important points. At the end of the talk he approached the lecturer and asked clarifying questions regarding shark tagging and how the 'release' mechanism worked to auto-detach after a set period of time.

Mom's favorite exhibit this time - the extension of the Jellies Experience

As always we had a fun and educational trip to the aquarium, and as usual the kids have been asking, "when can we go back?"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ronan Loves Swimming

Ronan means 'Little Seal'... looks like he's living up to his namesake

Ronan has been working on his swimming with Aunt Nancy for about a year now and their efforts are showing. He's water-safe, capable of swimming lengths of the pool, and perhaps most importantly, he loves it. In fact Ronan almost always wears a broad grin when he's playing in the pool - the video above is a testament to that!