last week, ava had a bit of an epiphany at soccer, and figured out that if you want to get the ball in soccer you can't run behind the other kids, you have to run around them and get in front. this week, i was lucky enough to get one of her first goals on video.
christmas began for ava on december 9th, when she flew up to thunder bay with grandma to begin her three weeks of "ski camp". despite her short stay in the wintery north, due to grandma's every day training camp, ava passed all the way through "level 1" in jackrabbits. when she comes back in february, she'll start level 2, and start skiing with poles.
christmas in thunder bay follows a pleasurable pattern. this year's theme for quinn's magical family christmas cake was "santa's workshop".
ava and john assembled multiple components of lego city. by the end, ava was able to nearly follow the directions for the speedboat all on her own. we all predict that daddy will be superfluous in next year's legoing.
lappe boxing day classic
ava stepped it up a (big) notch in this year's boxing day ski race. she graduated from the 200m race to the 1 KM race. the weather was mild (-2 C) and just before her race the sun came out for about five minutes. the result of the brief warming was that your skis got temporarily glued to the ground. this resulted in 80% of the kids in ava's division falling over trying to get out of the gate. ava was no exception, but she just got up and kept on trucking, finishing her 1km course in 10 minutes and 46 seconds.
the city of thunder bay outdid itself with a brand new outdoor skating rink at the thunder bay marina. the rink comes complete with a heated indoor changing area, from which you can stroll outside in her your skates right on to the ice. well done!
we conveniently picked the only cold day of the entire christmas week for our annual sleigh ride. thankfully, everybody seemed to remember how you usually need to dress in thunder bay in december, and the frostiness didn't matter much.
due to low snow and high temps the little sledding hill at the sleigh ride place was an ice track. this turned out to be a good thing - bumpy but really fun and fast.
measuring by where her runs ended, ava's little green sled was the fasted sled on the hill. so fast that i would slide down on my stomach behind her for the first 10 feet, acting as a temporary brake. at the bottom, ava quickly perfected the emergency exit. see tree coming. roll out of sled.
the grown-ups had fun too.
the white stuff
snow was in uncharacteristically low supply this december, but things picked up just before john and i arrived, and there were several good snowfalls during our visit. ava enjoyed all snowy activities, but she seemed to get a particular kick out of sledding this year, so we graduated her to "the big hill" at centennial.
in late october, auntie shannon called to say that she was thinking about coming for a visit in early december. my response: "summer's over, stupid!".
summer was so glorious, and october was rather dreary, and at the time, early december sounded drearier still. of course, little did i know, that nyc was about to rally for a spectacular sunny, fall colored november. still, thought i, as the lovely november weather went on and on and on... auntie shannon is doomed.
i wasn't all wrong. the temperature finally dove down by a good 15F the day before auntie shannon arrived. nonetheless, it was sunny and pleasant, and perfectly fine weather for showing shannon around our new home.
while ava was in school, shannon's presence inspired me to partake in some grown-up "tourist" activities. we went to the guggenheim (weird and claustrophobic) the metropolitan museum of art (so very very over the top and quirky that you can't help but adore it) and a lovely stroll through central park.
over the weekend toured shannon around the neighborhood - the bakery, the botanical garden, the park, our favorite restaurants and cocktail spots. and, mostly importantly, shannon once again got to join us for the annual gingerbread house party. monday, we headed into manhattan for a fancy dinner and stopped by the outdoor rink at bryant st. park - we all agreed that being in manhattan in december felt like being splonked in the middle of a movie set.
all in all, shannon was forced to admin that new york city really wasn't so bad after all. ; )
in early november, john hatched a last minute and rather complicated plan for thanksgiving. fly to san francisco, liberate savannah from her storage facility in san jose, take a road trip down the coast, re-jail savannah, and fly back to nyc.
the whole thing sounded way too complex for my tastes, but ava thought it sounded just fine. and, so, they were off!
and... wouldn't you know it, things pretty much went to plan. savannah was liberated. friends were visited in san francisco. a trip down the coast was undertaken. more friends were visited, and a return flight was even caught on time.
full photo journal of their trip here!
ever since john bought ava a toy pirate ship for her birthday, ava's world has been a bit pirate themed and she's very proud of her ability to "speak pirate".
this weekend we went for another visit to the children's museum of the arts, and one of their activities was a multi-media ocean-theme mural. when we got there, the talented staff artist had started it off with some cool sea anenomes (unfortunately off the picture frame, to the right), but ava decided it needed a giant pirate ship in the middle. and a flying shark.
november was often one of my favorite months in san francisco, but i wasn't expecting it to be a favorite here too! with the exception of our one freaky day of snow in october, both fall (and winter) have been slower to arrive then i anticipated, and november has been a beautiful month of coolish weather and sunny skies. i keep thinking every day might be our last nice day of the season, so ava and i have been making the most of them with many meandery afternoons in the park.
there's a difference between being proud of your kid, and completely amazed. kids give you plenty of opportunities to feel proud. they learn to walk, talk, read "sam sat on the cat", ride their bike, etc. each of these are notable accomplishments, and you will be proud (and you should be!). but, big picture, you're not exactly surprised. clearly, it would be a great deal more surprising if they did not cross these milestones.
and then, every once in awhile, they do something that truly, well, amazes you.
today was one of those days.
after maybe 8 sessions on her bike, 7 riding around a flat astro-turf field, and 1 riding around a flat paved school-yard, ava rode her bike... 1/2 mile up the sidewalk to the park, 3 miles around the park loop road including one quite sizeable uphill and 1/2 mile back down the sidewalk home.
umm... what just happened?
see below for random 20 second snippet of her journey.