Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Eating Snow, Part Deux

Eating snow... again

Last year during a winter trip to Lake Tahoe Ronan declared his favorite activity in the mountains was, "eating snow". It was pretty comical - he'd eat snow at every change he'd get. Little has changed this year except that he's convinced Nieve that snow eating is delightful. Of course Nieve had to re-market the activity - she is not 'eating snow', rather she is having a 'snow tea party'.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun in Carmel

Dragging kelp at sunset... not a bad way to spend the holidays

Over the holidays the kids were lucky to get some beach time while visting our friends at their Carmel get-away. I spent most of my youth on a San Diego beach so it's fun to watch Ronan and Nieve explore the sand, wind and water as I did decades ago.

Nieve observes how to manipulate wet sand in her hands

Nieve has a conflicted relationship with the beach. She loves manipulating the sand in her hands but she also gets irritated that it's difficult to wipe that sand off. She calles the Pacific Ocean the 'Deep Blue Sea', and she wants to play in it's waters, but she's hesitant because of the strong currents and breaking waves.

The beach makes Nieve a happy little girl

To compromise, Nieve holds my hands and wades out into waist-deep water. When a wave is just about to break over her head she yells, "jump!" and I lift her over the rolling whitewash. She gets the thrill of being in the waves but has her perental safety net in place for security. When she wants to play in the water she asks, "Daddy, take me out to The Deep Blue Sea."

Ronan, just digging

Ronan seems to share none of Nieve's concerns with the beach. He embraces whole body sandiness to the point where it takes us a half hour to remove the sand from his ears during bath time. His creative process is maturing as evidenced by his more thoughtful and elaborate sand structures. Ronan often finds flotsam to be used as building material or ornamentation.

Ronan casts a weary eye towards dogs that may disturb his creation

Ronan is no longer timid around the water, but we don't allow him to wade any deeper than his waist. Central coast currents and waves are strong and unpredictable - they can be dangerous not just to preschoolers but even experience adults. We also have to be vigilant of his thermal regulation as Ronan does not seem to notice when he approaches hypothermia. Even with a wetsuit we need to monitor his hands and feet to determine if he's been in the water too long. Appendages that are puffy & bright pink means it's time for Ronan to get out of the water.

A happy brother and sister before heading to the beach

We're fortunate to live so close to the Pacific. I look forward to many future beach days where Ronan and Nieve are able to explore the ocean further, through swimming, surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, or diving.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

RSV 2012

In front of this year's Christmas Tree

Every year we head over the hill to Rancho Siempre Verde, an endearing farm to get our Christmas tree. RSV is not just any Christmas Tree farm - it's a place where families come to laugh, picnic, make wreathes, defy gravity on fantastic tree swings, take tractor rides, cook s'mores over a campfire, soak up the glorious view, and generally indulge themselves in this gem of a spot next to the Pacific.

Giant xylophones are always fun

This is *precisely* how Nieve rolls... our lazy little girl

Nieve upgrades from little plastic car to a working tractor

An excited buzz is ever present at RSV, with patrons and hosts talking, laughing (or usually both), and thoroughly enjoying themselves. It seems that very corner of the farm is filled with mirth.

Ronan testing out the Christmas tree wrapping station. Fortunately he decided not to wrap himself.

Waiting for her tractor ride

Our obligatory annual Cozy Coupe photo... Ronan shows his clown aptitude by squeezing himself into the nonexistent back seat

Every year there are more people that come to enjoy RSV, so we decided to cut our tree early (to get one before they ran out) and spend the rest of the day picnicking and playing.

Moms - always the role models

Dads - best used as benches or pillows

Ronan's favorite activity was extreme swinging; he demanded, "Higher! Higher!" until the pusher (usually me) was thoroughly winded. There are over a dozen swings (two of which are tire swings) to choose from and by the end of our time there Ronan had used almost every one.

Ronan and Mom loving the swinging

The smiles say it all

Big swings mean big fun

Nieve was less eager to try out the big swings. She was happy in a hammock she found, and she loved the toddler swing, but she protested and ran away whenever we tried to get her onto one of the large tree swings.

Nieve was too timid at first to use the large swings but she did not mind showboating on the tiny toddler swing...

...besides, why swing when you can relax in a hammock

Eventually she mustered up enough courage to try out one of the smaller tree swings (with Ronan). After a few pushes she found her confidence and it was big grins on the swings from then on.

Swings - something that is actually enjoyable to share

A happy little girl, proud of herself for overcoming her fear of the bigger swings

Both Mom and I noted that Nieve and Ronan seemed to play wonderfully together at the farm. Ronan was his typical sweet self while Nieve predictably plotted trouble. It was a delight to watch them plan, swing and explore together.

Clearly mischief in the making

Bulldozers are best explored with a friend

After hours of swinging, playing and picnicking we had to call it a day. On the way to the car we passed by the campfire where families were making s'mores. Nieve is a raving lunatic when it coms to marshmallows so she refused to leave until she had a toasted marshmallow, something that Mom promised at lunchtime.

The sweet taste of victory - Nieve won the battle of the wills and got her much desired marshmallow

Even with the direct injection of highly refined sugar only moments before, Nieve fell asleep almost as soon as her car seat straps were buckled. Ronan looked out the window as we drove up the coast, admiring the afternoon sun glistening on the ocean. As soon as the road turned and led away from the water, Ronan joined his sister for a nap. Mom even closed her eyes as we wound our way over the coastal range, all three of them gently resting after a day packed with fun. RSV is a truly magical place.

One happy little monkey