ava's blog

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pooped

today was ava's first full day at her new daycare. she has been adjusting to her new settings extremely well, but unsurprisingly she did not take a nap on her first full day. combined with a lengthy post-daycare visit to the hospital, and the poor little muffin was plain tuckered out. she kept trying to fall asleep on the car ride home and i kept tweaking her toes to keep her awake - she was so out of it she couldn't even scream in protest. by the time we got home, i felt bad for her, so we indulged in a very rare treat : dinner with ducky in front of the television.

ode to my home town three

unfortunately, ava's grandma is very ill. fortunately, she's getting better every day. to help her along the way, ava and i have unexpectedly relocated ourselves to thunder bay until the end of august. although the whole situation is obviously quite unfortunate, and we both miss daddy very much, there are few places as nice as thunder bay to be in late summer.

things i have appreciated about my home town (and the people in it) on this visit include :

  1. local friends started calling me in san francisco with offers of assistance within an hour of me finding out that my mother was sick. (small town = efficient gossip network)
  2. it took me all of 10 minutes with a phone book to locate a daycare for ava for the summer. added bonus : it's the nicest daycare i've ever dreamed of.
  3. when ava and i arrived at grandma's house, there was a baby pool waiting for us on the back deck. (seriously, how cool is my mom's neighbour!)

in addition to serving as a grandma entertainment device, i've been trying to make sure that ava gets to spend some time experiencing summer the way it's meant to be enjoyed : naked and with water (if you're two that is!). ava's been having a grand old time romping around the backyard, blowing bubbles, hopping in and out of her pool and squishing the poor cat.

babyfest

i have very few (okay, exactly one) direct friends with children who live in the bay area. however, the number of "one degree of separation" friends-of-friends who have children born within six months of ava is quite high. now that they are all mobile, talking and fun to hang around with, shannon, arantxa and i having been trying to organize some sort of multi-baby outing for awhile now. we finally succeeded today, taking a trip to the discovery museum with evan (five weeks younger than ava) and his mom kelley, and ronan (six weeks younger than ava).

ronan is the son of shannon's neighbours, and a last minute addition to the festivities. shannon wandered by her neighbours 5 minutes before departure and asked to borrow ronan for the morning. wise parents that they are, they responded "hell - yeah", packed him a diaper bag and buckled him in to kelly's car. ronan experienced such high anxiety about this situation that he drifted off to sleep for the drive over. when he woke up, he initially looked a little dazed and confused, but got more and more enthusiastic throughout the trip.

ava is typically very opinionated about where exactly she's going to go, so getting her to follow along with a group can be challenging. we did very well on this expedition though, by bribing her around with "crunchies". "crunchies" , in ava's world, means "snack food with a high fat and/or salt content that mean mommy won't give me very often. i have better luck with daddy." in this particular case, it meant an organic, baked and much healthier version of "cheetos" that kelley happened to bring along. ava was a big fan, and consequently was a docile little angel the whole morning. see full, annotated gallery here.

fourth of july

it was a typical fourth of july in san francisco. i awoke to the pitter patter of accumulated fog dripping off the trees. i expected this though, and had a fog-free adventure planned for ava and grandma. we started the outing with a visit to a lovely little neighborhood playground in belvedere. belvedere is a tiny little city on an island across the golden gate bridge with an entry level housing price of around $2.5 million dollars (i just got curious and looked that up). the trickle down effect of all that property tax revenue is a very nice playground with immaculately groomed lawns and playground-owned cars and kettler trikes scattered about for anybody to use. i think we might just come back.

after that we continued our journey north towards the sun, to the marin county fair. the big hit for ava was the "great american petting zoo", which featured some standard petting zoo characters like goats and sheep. and then some unexpected entries like a wallabee and a llama. we wandered around the rest of the barnyard, watched the chinese dragon dancers and then headed home for naptime. next year we'll come back and try out the rides!

swimming lessons at la petite baleen

today was ava's fifth swimming lesson at la petite baleen, and her behavior has improved to the point where i am willing to talk about it. there are many things i really like about la petite baleen. the first is the location - right on the bay, in the presidio, at the end of crissy field. see view from the parking lot to the right. not bad. the second thing is that they are pretty hardcore. these folks believe in the swimming version of "cry it out" - this means that no little bodies escape from the pool for the duration of their 30 minute lesson - no matter what. however, this very strict rule is balanced by a huge amount of compassion, patience and good humor from the instructors. ava's instructor said to me on the first day : "if we let them do what they want, then they learn to manipulate us, see?". hmmm . . . yup . . . got it. okay, you seem to know what you're talking about - we'll give this a shot, your way.

the first class ava screamed at the top of her lungs the entire time, while trying to climb my body to get out of the water. picture her hanging on to my ears for dear life. the second class, she was much improved, and only screamed during the "boat" part of the program. the third class was just plain bad luck. it was an unusually cold day, and therefore daycare was running on a slightly altered schedule. ava wasn't playing outside where she usually was, and we wound up leaving daycare through the "wrong" door. omg. meltdown. must never vary from the routine. never, ever, ever. i never really got her calmed down from the door episode, so she just carried on with the meltdown all the way through her swimming lesson too.

ava cheered up quite a bit for lesson number four though, so much so that her instructor was pretty much jumping up and down for joy. lesson number five was another incremental improvement. still objecting to the "boats", but she's lowered her objection to a dull moan, rather than an ear piercing scream. and, cracking some smiles now and again too. at today's lesson we were also fortunate enough to have grandma along to snap some pics. more pics here.

hidden villa farm

grandma has arrived for a mid-summer visit, just in time for our worst period of summer fog, combined with a lovely smoky haze from the numerous wildfires burning in california. we're going to try and escape at least the foggy part a few times this week, and began that goal with a trip to hidden valley farm in los altos.

i couldn't find much information online about hidden valley, so didn't really know what to expect. it turned out to be a sprawling complex of gardens and barns, full of veggies, fruit, flower and animals. really nice even in our current period of drought, and must be extra-ordinary in winter / spring when the multiple creeks are flowing with water.

ava still has a cold, and isn't quite herself, but we still had a good time. highlights (from ava's perspective)

  • the "grape vine house" in the organic garden
  • the cat in the organic garden
  • the baby goat that kissed me
  • eating fresh blackberries

low points :

  • when stupid mommy tried to take my long-sleeved shirt off. who cares if its 85 F in the shade? i like my whale shirt!!!
  • smacking my head really hard on the fence trying to pet the baby goat
  • when stupid mommy tried to trick me into putting on shorts after my diaper change. it's just not proper for a young lady not to cover her knees!

more pics

behind the scenes with photographer john quinn

today we took a trip to central park in san mateo, for ayan's annual photoshoot. i think ava really enjoyed not being the center of photographic attention, and i enjoyed not being the baby wrangler. we both puttered around and watched the madness, and i took a few shots and videos of "life behind the scenes". here's my favourite pic from the shoot, see the full gallery here

click read more (below) for live video footage of the photographer in action.

bath monster

ava's had a cold all week. as baby illnesses go, it hasn't really been remarkable, or even particularly annoying. it has had a weird side effect though - ava is a little more cantakerous than usual and has suddenly decided that she hates taking a bath! i think tomorrow we might try the shower instead.

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