golden-gate-park

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flower bingo

in honor of all the beautiful flowers in our neighborhood, i made up a new game for ava. i call it "flower bingo".

first i took a bunch of pictures of flowers. then, i printed them out and assembled four pictures on a square of cardboard. gave ava the cardboard, and set her off to "match" the flowers on her card. stickers to mark off the matches, and a jelly bean to celebrate a full card.

ruins

it was a beautiful spring day today, so i took ava on an after school "adventure". we "climbed a mountain" to visit "castle ruins". e.g. we hiked to the top of strawberry hill and checked out the ruins of the sweeney observatory. (note - until writing this blog, i had no idea what exactly the ruins were, so i wasn't exactly lying when i told her it was a castle.) strawberry hill really is quite a climb, and i fully expected to be carrying ava most of the way. to my surprise the little legs just kept going and going and going . . . all the way to a nice picnic at the top.

bouldering

in between playdates, i finally managed to take ava to one of my favorite corners of golden gate park - the aids memorial grove - a beautiful stand of redwood trees, with a winding dry creek and large boulders. i took the opportunity to introduce ava to the sport of bouldering - and of course captured her first ascent of a terrifying 2.5' high V-10. notice how she carefully inspects the problem before starting out. (and if you feel like there is a gap in the photographic sequence it is NOT because mommy ran around to the other side of the boulder to give the climber a boost. cross my fingers.)

at the top, ava celebrated and declared herself "princess of the world". i'm not kidding.

plethora of playdates

martin luther king day marked the conclusion of the longest stretch of beautiful weather in the bay area that i can remember. while the midwest froze solid, we basked in 13 straight days of blue skies, blazing sun and near-perfect surf. by the end john said "you know - there aren't even that many people at the beach anymore. i think they're all tired."

unsurprisingly, the wonderful weather motivated everyone we knew to suggest a park expedition of some sort. ava got to see every little buddy she has - some of them twice. we went for a stroll at the tea garden with delilah, pushed carina on the swings, blew bubbles with paulo, painted with the twins and met half her school at the playground.

california academy of science

with the opening of the california academy of arts and sciences, the city of san francisco put the finishing touches on their design the perfect neighbourhood for ava project. the academy opened on september 27th to much fanfare. on opening day we were (literally) trapped in our neighborhood - there was nothing but gridlock for miles on all streets in all directions - and there was a mile long line of people standing to wait for a ticket. needless to say - we didn't even try.

this afternoon though, curiosity finally got the better of us, and we decided to stop by an hour before closing time. it was still a zoo, and we skipped the most popular exhibits and decided to go check out the aquarium. also crowded - but so beautiful you couldn't help but love it anyway. every tank is a work of art, and every little creature in them too. ten points to ava for correctly identifying the tank full of jellyfish-standing-on-head - which mommy assumed were some sort of weird anemone. unfortunately, ava skipped her nap today (i gave up and pulled her out of her crib when she started singing a song about the poo in her pants), so she kept trying to take a little snooze with the fishies. full gallery here.

water play

ava was slow to warm to the whole "shovel and bucket" sort of playing . . . and i was slow to grasp the idea that this was essential training for that whole "food on utensil and into mouth" activity. we've both got the hang of it now though, and ava can shovel her sand around with the best of them.

errr . . . on the other hand, i'm not exactly sure what "dumping sand on forehead" is training for . . . i'm not sure i want to know . . .

this video was taken in the "stream" that flows into the sandbox in the koret children's playground.

bamboo forest

every day after daycare, ava and i go to the arboretum. the arboretum is full of little "micro-environments", each very different from the next. when ava was little, and i got to decide where we went, we visited many environments every day. now, she tends to obsess about a particular area of the garden for a month or so, and then finally agrees to move on.

one of my big accomplishments for the week was to manage to drag ava 20 feet off her usual route to accommodate a visit to the miniature bamboo forest. it was pretty windy today, and in this picture ava is watching the towering tops of the bamboo 50 feet above us, blowing around quite impressively.

watch ava play "night night" in the park.

independence

ava and daddy's tour of the park usually includes two of golden gate park's playgrounds. they end at the "little playground" where ava likes to show off her ability to do a "lap" all on her own (see video).

at 20.5 months, ava is suddenly coming down with a case of "i can do it myself!". at the arboretum, there is a stone courtyard wall that ava likes to clamber on. the wall is about 3 feet high and there are a variety of different ascents. ava mastered one of the more difficult routes today, accepting my usual "spotting" without complaint. after one successful ascent though, ava decided that she'd had enough of mommy's hovering hands. she pushed me away and said "bye bye!" quite firmly. i conceded a distance of a few feet, but then snuck up on her again once she was a foot off the ground. after completing her second ascent (and noticing my trickery), ava came up with a new plan. this time, she dragged me over to the nearest bench . . . "mommy sit down . . . mommy bench . . . " and then stomped off a few feet . . . "bye bye" . . . and went back to her wall, casting the occasional glaring glance over her shoulder to make sure that i stayed parked where she left me.

if you listen closely you can hear ava saying "big step", "big step" to herself as she goes up the stairs.

childrens garden

grandma and ava spend nearly every afternoon in the children's garden at the strybing arboretrum. the children's garden is located in the wildest and most distant corner of the arboretum, surrounded by a natural california landscape and much too far a trek from the entrance gates for all but the most motivated garden visitor. hence, they usually have the place to themselves.

the garden hosts a good selection of veggies and ava has learned how to extract and "count" the beans from a pod, to identify all the veggies, to help the gardeners keep the garden organized and to spot every passing airplane and hawk.

dandelions

shortly before her september trip to thunder bay, the dandelions in the park started going to seed. i picked a couple one day and showed ava how to blow the seeds off. to my surprise, while ava was in thunder bay, her grandfather reported that she was picking dandelions and trying to blow the seeds off.

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