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smack in the middle of the great-winter-that-wasn't ava and i visited our friends in ottawa for a taste of actual winter. every year ottawa makes the most of it's white stuff with an impressive winterlude festival.

the winter weather was perfect and i think we pretty much sampled the full winterlude menu. after frolicking in joan and arno's neighborhood snow, and a quick round of sledding for ava and lucy. we started off with a twinkly nighttime visit to the ice sculptures.

the next morning we headed off to the main attraction, the "snow park" across the river in gatineau, quebec. the naturally falling white stuff isn't quite enough to power this place, and artificial-snow-making preparations start about a month before the big event.

the snow park was filled with all sorts of fun stuff. the signature attraction is the ice slides - carved out of the big piles of snow and then flooded, frozen, re-flooded, re-frozen until they achieve a rather glacier-like appearance. ava was quite enthusiastic about the slides and also very independent - she wanted to do all of them all by herself.

there was also a tubing area, with ultra-deluxe inner tube sleds, a place to try kick-sleds and an obstacle course for small people hosted by the royal canadian armed forces.

in the afternoon, joan, lucy, ava and i skated on the ottawa canal - the "world's largest skating rink". and not the largest by a few paltry inches - the ottawa canal is a 4 mile long strip of groomed ice. on the canal i learned something about ava and skates - she needs a destination. ava saw the chateau laurier looming in the distance and decided she wanted to go see "the castle", and zoom! off she went.

the next day, we wrapped things up with a winter walk through the neighborhood to the playground and then sadly said our good-byes! full photo gallery

a visit to ottawa

now that we're on the east coast "everything" (except california) seems a whole lot closer. ava and i celebrated our shrunken world view with a trip to ottawa to visit joan/arno/lucy/arthur and edith/craig/graham.

we only stayed for a weekend, but we managed to pack in a lot of fun! we started off with lucy's fourth birthday party - a cooking class very professionally scaled down to size, with a menu of pizza, fruit salad and cupcakes. clearly, canadians raise their kids with higher standards, as i've never seen a better behaved crew. nobody even spilled more then a little flour on the floor, for goodness sakes!

after the party we set out to a local pumpkin patch. thankfully, several members of our party had visited the same farm a few weeks before, so this time we only got mildly lost in the corn maze. after that we squished our way through the mud to the pumpkin patch, where ava and lucy dug for worms, and the rest of us enjoyed the sunshine. ava and lucy selected some crazy gourds to take home, which ava transformed into swans the next day.

sunday was lucy's real birthday, so we started with presents. lucy got a short taste of what it would be like to be the younger sibling while ava "helped" lucy open her presents. the clear hit of the day was lucy's new playmobil pool set (from mommy and daddy). lucy did an amazing job of sharing her newest prize posession, and she and ava splashed around for a good couple of hours.

after we drug them off the pool deck, we headed out to a nearby nature preserve, known for it's extraordinarily tame birds. lucy was a bit spooked when the little bird claws wrapped around her fingers (i don't blame her, it's a weird feeling!), but ava was totally enthralled.

finally, we wrapped up our visit with a good stomp in the leaves in lucy's front yard.

editor's note: some of these pictures were taken by joan, and some by me, and i don't remember whose are whose. throughout the weekend, we took a combined total of nearly 900 pictures, and probably said "LOOK AT THE CAMERA" about 5,00 times. lots and lots more pictures here, i had a very hard time pruning this batch!


ava's summer trip to thunder bay started off with a visit with her canadian buddies: lucy and izze, and izze's new(ish) little brother isaac. the weather was so warm this year that the girls were able to splash around in both loon lake and lake superior. overall, their favorite activity though was playing in a giant pile of sandy dirt with a big bucket of (quickly dirty) water. pristine water, beautiful scenery.... nah... we'll take the dirt please.

meanwhile, the mommies enjoyed some low maintenance moments.

my friend lucy

ava's visit with grandma overlapped with lucy's visit with her grandma, so ava had a chance to go hang out with lucy and the post family at their cottage on lake superior. ava and lucy last hung out in ottawa in may. they were pretty cute then, but according to witnesses they hit it off especially well this time around. and although i missed the visit, it was beautifully documented in photos by joan.

although the old nature versus nurture issue complicates the analysis, i'm starting to suspect that these two little ones may share some similarity in spirit. for exaple, they are both big fans of the show "little bear" and when they started talking immediately started incorporating phrases and concepts from this show into their speech. of course, "ava" sent lucy the little bear dvds to begin with, so this parallel evolution is none too surprising. odder though, is that their mutual favorite character is a rather strange and minor character : a snake called "no feet".

while they were visiting, ava taught lucy how to "fish". they both enjoyed this activity alot, and lucy kept it up after ava's departure.

in return lucy passed on to ava her "chippy" feeding skills, and by the time she left ava had chippy eating right out of ther hand!

naked baby bums

today is one of the few days of this summer that ava and i were supposed to be in thunder bay. we've had an appointment for a visit to loon lake marked on our calendar for at least six months - and today was the day! this was ava's first chance to meet lucy and izze, daughter's of my friends joan and jill. conveniently, this date was set to coincide with the pinnacle of baby cuteness. lucy is 9 months old and izze is 10 months old - don't blink 'cause they'll be toddlers in two days. today though, they are adorable little chubby-legged, babbling babies.

joan started the day off in style by unveiling the matching sundresses she'd made for all the girls. smart gal that she is, she'd noticed that i take a lot of pictures with ava wearing green, and chose ava's fabric accordingly. we tried to get the girls to pose for a formal portrait, but lucy was none too pleased about sitting on damp grass, and ava just wasn't interested in entering the frame of the picture - period. the closest we got was this

the formal portrait location was close to the lake, and as soon as ava caught a glimpse she insisted on taking off all her clothes. the little ones soon followed. i then proceded to take an awful lot of pictures of babies in their birthday suits. lots more pics here

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