grandma

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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!

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

fifty six cookies

while ava was in thunder bay for christmas, she did a lot of cooking with grandma. they made homemade bread, three kinds of cranberry sauce, carrot soup and numerous other things. ava perches atop the kitchen stool, and grandma arranges herself in such a way as to keep ava from unexpectedly jumping off.

we all pitched in to make the christmas cookies. ava was of dubious value during the cookie rolling stage, but she really enjoyed the decorating. we had to form an assembly line just to keep up with her. john and i iced as fast as they could, ava provided the sprinkles, and grandma kept the whole line moving, delivering fresh cookies to be iced, and whisking away the final products before ava could decide it was time to take the sprinkles off again.

in the end ava decorated fifty-six cookies (i was so amazed, i had to count).

bay area discovery museum

today grandma and i took ava to visit the bay area discovery museum. i've known of it's existence for ages, but somehow managed to never quite grasp a) the incredible location and b) how much fun it would be for ava. i blame most of this on the lousy pictures on their official website.

to visit the bay area discovery museum, you cross the golden gate bridge, take an immediate right, and keep winding your way down the hill, always turning right, until you've done a big circle and wound up almost directly underneath the golden gate bridge. it's worth a visit just for the bridge view alone. inside the museum one of the features is a gigantic toy train set featuring a miniature version of the bridge.

the museum consists of seven exhibits, one of which is designed especially for small tykes, with a maximum height of 40 inches. in tot land, everything is soft and padded, the kids all wind up dressed up as insects and there are large buttons on the walls that make the most surprising things happen.

other exhibits are targeted for an older crowd, but every room contains a creative solution for keeping the wee ones amused. ava particularly enjoyed bay hall which contained the train, as well as life-sized fishing boat, that rocked back and forth dramatically and included an elaborate setup for fishing

art class

grandma has been taking ava to a weekly toddler art class at the randall museum. the whole notion of our little baby going to "class" was a bit of a turning point for john and i. we paused to have a bit of a "moment" over that one.

i have to give it to her, ava did a great job at posing as a serious artiste, and she did do some good drawing with the crayons. however, her painting leaves a little to be desired. amazingly, she seems to understand the whole process : dip paintbrush in water. dip paintbrush in paint. wave paintbrush over paper. the only problem is, she insists on holding the paintbrush upside down.

return of mommy and daddy

while mommy and daddy were in baja ava and grandma had a grand old time. grandma built ava a playhouse, which was subsequently upgraded to include a door, carpeting, curtains and birds chirping in the window. on the day we returned ava and grandma bought mommy some flowers and ava got all dolled up to greet us. gosh, doesn't she look happy to see us? (alright, alright, really grandma took this picture about 2 minutes before we actually got there.)

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.

extended fun with grandma

lucky ava, grandma has come to visit for two whole months! although grandma spends every possible moment here with ava, she also has her own space too. grandma is subletting an apartment at the crossroads between three san francisco neighbourhoods : the sunset (where we live), cole valley (very yuppie) and the haight. those of you who are familiar with both my mother and the history of the haight-ashbury neighbourhood may find the contrast somewhat amusing.

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