Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rancho Siempre Verde, 2013

Ronan's annual cozy coupe photo... here's the photo from 2009

Two weekends ago was our sixth annual pilgrimage to Rancho Siempre Verde, a wonderfully fun Christmas Tree farm south of Pescadero off of Hwy 1 (here's the post from our second trip in 2009). Friends Janet, Sandy, and Emily, as well as Poppy and Auntie She all joined us for the tree hunting, swinging, picnic savoring, tractor-riding, and general farm wandering.

Nieve's annual cozy coupe photo

Tractor tire swing!

Nieve had a blast finding different swings and riding them. We knew she had a blast, as she wore an ear-to-ear smile every time she took flight. Our endurance for pushing her ran out far before her enthusiasm did.



Nieve was not the only one who enjoyed the swings. All of us took turns, playing, giggling, and the occasional fall. On the larger swing, Poppa, Auntie She and Mom were one small slip away from sending all three of them to the emergency room.

Mom, Poppa and Auntie She all enjoying a ride... after an almost disastrous start to their swinging

Ronan showing a little sass whilst swinging with Auntie She

Also like last year, the kids loved playing on top of (an in) the haystack; they climbed, crawled, jumped, and ran around with a dozen other like-minded children. Rather than simply crawling through the tunnels Ronan was more interested in jumping off the higher sections, leading to (superficial) injuries of other children who watched his antics and made the poor decision to copy him.

Nieve in the haystack, slightly annoyed by the prickly hay

Learning to span a gap - Ronan called her, "Nieve the Bridge"

The Art of Flight, by Ronan, Part I

Nieve would not be left out of the 'jumping' from the haystack

A trip to RSV must also include the exploring machines, which Ronan promptly led as soon as lunch was finished. Both kids love sitting in the drivers seat, pretending they are flattening mounds with the bulldozer or digging deep ditches with the backhoe. The two of them were having so much fun that Emily had to climb up and experience it for herself.

Ronan asked for this picture to be taken - he wanted a portrait through the grate with the John Deere badge visible

Goofballs at the helm!

Emily and Nieve enjoying the bulldozer together

One fun new experience this year was enjoying apples picked right off of a tree. Normally the fruit is off limits to visitors but we lucked out when a ranch hand let the kids harvest their own apples and enjoy them amongst the orchard. We also learned about tayberries, a rust-resistant raspberry/blackberry hybrid that apparently has an delicious flavor.

Yum. Apples right off the tree!

Auntie She (unsuccessfully) trying to steal some of Nieve's apple

Fresh fruit makes Ronan a happy boy

Janet chuckles while Mom finishes off Nieve's apple

Then there was, of course, the harvesting of our Christmas tree. The pickings were slim this year (RSV was highlighted by Sunset Magazine and saw a large spike in customers last year) yet we found a tree of the perfect size and shape for our living room. Nieve helped to cut it down and Ronan helped to carry it back to the car.

Nieve: "Daddy, I want the saw." Me: "Here you go, sweetheart."

Family portrait in front of the tree

Of course we had to get in the tractor ride and one final swing before calling it a day. Ronan and Auntie She chose a swing to showboat at - at one point Ronan was a good twenty feet off of the ground, grinning a fools grin the entire time.

The crew was getting tired by the time we did the tractor ride

Ronan's antics provided more entertainment for other RSV visitors

The Art of Flight, by Ronan, Part II

By mid afternoon even Ronan was ready to call it a day. We said our goodbyes, ensured the tree was properly fastened to the roof racks, and headed home. A big thanks to everyone for joining us on our annual trip - we look forward to doing again next year!

The remnants of the crew - tired but happy and ready to head home

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Locks of Love

Nieve's hair on Saturday morning, an hour before getting it cut

The inevitable happened yesterday - Nieve got her first haircut. Mom and I were admittedly surprised that Nieve pushed for short, manageable hair, especially as she's shown staunch resistance against anything that might make our lives as parents easier.

A fairly impressive braid, given Nieve is only three and a half years old

Mom (and to a lesser degree, me) had resigned to continuing the hours of tugging, brushing, braiding, fixing, re-doing, and more brushing that is required to keep Nieve's long hair from becoming an insolvable tangled mass. Yet when Nieve made the decision to go short it was us parents who fretted with anxiety about the change.

A stone-faced little girl, ready to get on with the haircut

And so it begins...

We asked Nieve more than a dozen times over the past couple of weeks whether she really wanted to get it cut, and every time she responded with a "yes!" of such conviction that we had no choice but to do it. I'm pretty sure Mom was silently preparing herself for a disastrous, inconsolable Nieve meltdown once the haircut was done. Just how do you explain to a three year old that the only 'revert' option is to wait for the two years it will takes to grow?

Major hair removal

Progress is being made

A midpoint review - Nieve holding up the bulk of her removed hair

But we like to let our children guide their lives as much as is reasonable, so off to Jenny (the family hair stylist for the past decade or more) we went to let Nieve realize her wishes. Jenny, of course, was fantastic. She has been waiting for the day she could work on Nieve's thick, long hair, and she knew exactly the cut to put on little girl that carries a much larger sense of self and style than belies her petite body.

Some of the finer details are now being attended to

A little blow-drying to finish off the style

When it was all over, Nieve was visibly delighted with the results. She was all smiles, throwing herself adoring looks in the mirror. She couldn't resist from continually touching it, or moving loose strands of hair over her ears.

Happy? Oh yes, clearly happy.

Ta da!

The process and end results were, by all account a big success. My only reservation is the short hair makes Nieve look far more mature, almost like a tiny woman with clumsy movements. Like most parents, I'm not yet ready to let go of Nieve's pre-school years. The kids are growing far too quickly for my tastes.

Fine. Perhaps not entirely like a tiny woman.

It's a great haircut to climb in

We spent the rest of the day playing in San Francisco and two separate, clearly knowledgeable women both asked, "Did she just get her hair cut?" When I confirmed their observation they replied, "Oh, how darling! It's magnificent!" Those were two of the few times I've seen Nieve blush.
A cut to conquer play structures

So we are happy that Nieve is happy. The bedtime routine is now much shorter (no drying the hair after bath or fighting knots or braiding), Nieve still steals glances of her reflection in mirrors, and it's fun to watch her hair bob about when she runs. And the icing on top of an already sweet cake - Nieve is donating her cut hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for disadvantaged children.

A happy little girl with a sporty new 'do, perfect for being active