Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Cure for Rainy Day Blues

When the rain comes the local creeks swell

More than most kids, Ronan loves being outside. Even if it means only playing in the backyard we've noticed that Ronan requires at least a couple of hours outside each day to keep him happy.

Hunting for the perfect spot to launch

November was a wet month which meant that Ronan spent more time confined inside than usual. When the cabin fever symptoms became too pronounced we decided to try to make the most of the inclement weather.

Putting in the first boat for her maiden voyage

I remember making origami boats at his age, and when I asked Ronan if he thought it would be fun he grabbed a few sheet of paper and started folding. We had considered 'waterproofing' the boats with wax (or even easier spray sealant used for nylon rain jackets) but decided to just make a half-dozen boats and hope that the fleet would last longer than our attention.

Tracking the dinghy's progress

Just down the street a mixed-use path follows a creek that becomes swollen when it rains. The creek has a few small falls (the largest roughly eight feet tall) that makes for interesting paper boat sailing.

Readying boat #2 for her adventure

Sending her on her way...

I loved watching Ronan learn how to place the boat to avoid eddies and he quickly grasped the challenges of a boat navigating turbulent water. Ronan even looked for debris that could snag or delay the boat's trip downstream.

...she made it under the bridge but did not survive the following waterfall

I also enjoyed Ronan's obvious delight with his vessels making their way along the swiftly flowing creek. He would laugh, clap, and encourage his boats, running alongside of them and rescuing them when they became stuck.

Ronan, as supportive of his boats as he is to his friends

I was pleasantly surprised that Ronan showed no discouragement when his boats were destroyed. He simply noted what happened and applied that lesson when plotting the route for the next boat he sailed.

It took some climbing skill and impeccable balance to get down to the creek and launch boat #4

Ronan's smile says it all

Ronan saved his last boat to sail in a newly formed 'lake' at a poorly drained parking lot. Initially it was anti-climatic; the boat simply sat there on the still water.

Setting S.S. Little Hope on her way

But Ronan thought of providing the necessary propulsion himself so he put his efforts into encouraging the little boat to move. After a few attempts at pushing, blowing and sending hand-generated waves Ronan decided that he needed more mechanical advantage. So he went and got his bicycle.

Ronan gently urging her forward

Ronan was a little too eager in his first attempt at bicycle-generated waves and accidentally scuttled the tiny S.S. Little Hope. While the sunk boat was a minor setback, Ronan's discovery of joy in deep puddle riding more than made up for the tragedy.

A more effective, efficient, and most importantly, fun way to make waves

Alas, all good things come to an end - shortly after S.S. Little Hope took on water Ronan himself plunged into the puddle due to a lapse in focus. Ronan didn't seem to mind the watery end and still had a smile on his face when we arrived home dripping wet.

Guess how this ends...

It's going to be a long winter so I'm certain that we will be making more trips to the swollen creek. The days are growing shorter as well - we might have to start designing and building paper airplanes to give us something fun to do in the evenings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Loving Big Brother

Strategic or Sweet? Either way, works for me.

Ronan seems to be a 'just in the nick of time' kind of guy, which should not be surprising given his genetic makeup. Whether he's aware of it or not, Ronan has been behaving quite well lately - my sense is he's back-loading his good behavior in the run-up to Christmas, hoping it will win him extra points with Santa and translate into more loot.

Recently Nieve has been struggling with separation anxiety during drop-offs at school (tears, hysterical crying, etc). Ronan, it seems, is her comforter-in-chief; when he hears her crying he heads over to her classroom to console her. If things are particularly bad, he'll invite her back to his classroom when he has his (also loving) classmates will sew Nieve a dress to make her feel better (I'm not kidding about the sewing part - the kids have rolls of fabric, various types of thread/glue, patterns for clothes, mannequins for fitting, shears and a sewing machine to use).

And it's not just his sister that Ronan dotes on - he's thoughtful to both Mom and me. He knows it's hard for us to leave him or Nieve when they are sad or scared, and this morning's drop off with Nieve was a bit rough. So Ronan asked his teacher to take the photo above to reassure me that Nieve is OK, and that he's making sure she's happy at school.

Yes, I was very touched. And my sense is that Santa will look upon this type of behavior quite fondly, especially given all the free shipping deals available at the moment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Welcome Mac and Ungwa

The kids setting up the frog's habitat

Auntie Allison, Uncle Danny, Drew and Lexi gave Ronan and Nieve their first pets as a Christmas present this year. Those pets are little frogs that spend all of their time under water. Ronan named his frog 'Mac' (after macaroni and cheese) and Nieve named hers 'Ungwa' (we have no idea what inspired that name). And so far, so good - Mac and Ungwa seem happy in their new home and the kids are delighted with their new pets. Many, many thanks to the Butlers for the great gift!