Sunday, November 30, 2014

Halloween in Pacific Grove

Neymar Jr. and a unicorn, holding hands

This year we decided to spend Halloween weekend with a group of close friends near the beach in Pacific Grove. In addition to the buzz that comes from staying in a new place, Ronan and Nieve were excited to be able to show off their costumes to more than just Mom and I.

"Tudo Passa" - Everything Passes

Ronan loved his diamond tattoo the most

Ronan decided to go as Neymar Jr., a popular (and very fun to watch) Brazilian footballer who plays for FC Barcelona. This made things easy for us parents, as getting a soccer kit is relatively easy (and cheaper than we expected). The only real effort went into the faux tattoos, which we applied using some of Mom's eyeliner.

Every detail on this unicorn was required to be exactly just so

Nieve's costume required a larger time investment. She was intent on being a unicorn, and was specific about the exact design details.

A very pleased (and colorful!) little unicorn

First, she wanted not just any horn, but a gold one. I'm surprised she did not demand platinum. Second, her mane and tail *must* be the colors of the rainbow. Thankfully Mom found yarn that fit the criteria.

Boots? Check. Rainbow mane & tail? Check, check. Nice purple bow tied in the tail? Check. Looks like we're good to go.

Third, boots were important, though this was a compromise as the hoof design she originally wanted was far too involved to do. Finally, she wanted a specific purple ribbon to tie into a bow onto her tail; it was of the utmost importance to look perfect.

Applying the final touches for the face paint

The costume and the costume's creator

Finally, she wanted to do face paint, and insisted on doing it herself. I'm not sure it came out exactly how she had envisioned it, but she was happy enough with it so in the end we were left with a small smiling unicorn.

Never have I seen someone so happy to find a pile of washed-up kelp

Super Nieve!

On Halloween night the steady rain and thunder, and very few people answering doors, made trick-or-treating a bust (except for a handful of homes). However the next day the clouds gave way to sunny skies and warm temperatures, so our group took to beach to explore the tide pools.

A flying Ronan. Not that atypical.

Nieve, showing off her pipes

As always, the kids had a blast climbing over the rocks, playing in the sand, and looking for anemones. Ronan convinced Auntie Alyshia to help him build a flotsam fort near a pile of old concrete. Nieve was being Nieve, telling other tourists what they should/should not be doing, and what they might expect to find in the tidepools if they, "look hard enough."

A happy Nieve, running down a path in the butterfly sanctuary

What all the fuss was about

We also had time to make a stop at the Monarch butterfly sanctuary; some docents were out with scopes and the kids were able to spot thousands of butterflies clumped together on the higher branches of some trees.

Kids in need of some downtime: I cannot overstate how unusual it is to find these two sitting quietly together (without a television being a part of the situation)

All the excitement and activities of the weekend made Ronan and Nieve want some downtime. One of my favorite moments was finding them quietly snuggled together on a small bed in the room they were sharing, reading a comic book in the afternoon sun. Neither looked up when I took a photo of them, and it was a good hour before they came down to the common area to socialize. It was a fitting end to a very fun weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pumpkin Patch, 2014 Edition

We make them do it every year... a photo at the pumpkin patch

Every year in October we make a trip to a patch to find perfect Halloween pumpkins. We used to make a day of it and head over to coast where we'd get pumpkins and spend the rest of the day playing on a beach. The past couple of years, with the addition of multiple soccer games and other weekend-consuming commitments, we've kept pumpkin hunting to a local affair.

One requirement of pumpkin selection - you must be able to carry your pumpkin to the cart...

...thus Nieve's pumpkin was noticably smaller than Ronan's

The local patch, Webb Ranch, is pricey but well equipped. They have a large selection of gourds to choose from, some food vendors for the hungry, and lots of activities to keep kids entertained.

Ronan loves the pumpkin-headed horseman... he *asked* me to take a picture with it

Staged pointing always make for dynamic images. This may become a new pumpkin patch tradition.

Due to a compacted schedule, we only had a half hour to play but the kids made the most of it. Ronan did the haunted house and Nieve chose a pony ride. They also had to try the bouncy house on the way out; after a few minutes of jumping we had called it quits and whisked the kids off to soccer game #1.

A happy Nieve on a horse

A happy Nieve posing on a horse

A happy Nieve petting a horse. Yes, Nieve loves horses.

It was a successful trip - we all found satisfactory pumpkins and I was able to capture the obligatory photo of Ronan and Nieve goofing around amongst the orange squash. Hopefully next year we'll budget a bit more time and be able to venture all the way to the coast!


This is the pumpkin Ronan really wanted. Unfortunately, it did not pass the "must be able to carry" test. So instead he got this photo.