thunder-bay

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ducky on ice

we arrived in thunder bay just in time for nightfall on christmas eve. after opening presents on christmas morning, ava made her first venture outside into the land of cold and snow. ava was much more enthused by snow this year. still, on our first venture out into the cold she requested that ducky come along too. she very rarely requests that ducky come on an outing anymore - i guess she was feeling a little apprehensive! of course, ducky had to get dressed properly for the occasion . .. just like ava . . . in hats, mitts and a coat. fortunately, the coat was long enough that it covered his feet, so she forgot to demand that ducky wear boots too!

blueberry picking

ava has a strange aversion to the forested parts of grandma's property - it's really quite difficult to get her to take a step off of the lawn. i haven't really bothered trying to cure her of this paranoia since a) there is plenty of lawn to go around and b) it's kind of nice to know that when i'm not watching, she's not likely to run off into the woods! today though, i managed to lure her into the woods twice. the first time was to "look for raspberries", which i knew very well we weren't going to find. the second time was with grandma, to "pick blueberries", and this time it was a genuine expedition. there aren't many blueberries directly behind grandma's house, but there are a few - we found about 15 blueberry-bearing plants, with about 50 blueberries for ava to munch on. blueberries like to grow in areas where the woods is in transition between being a field, and being a forest. this means lots and lots of knee-to-thigh high undergrowth composed of tall grass and short bushes. ava won't have anything to do with walking through vegetation that's as tall as she is, so i had to airlift her from blueberry plant to blueberry plant. but, by the time we got back on the main path, and were headed home, she had clearly decided that maybe the woods wasn't so scary after all.

canoeing

grandma took ava on her first canoe ride today. the expedition was led by my mom's friend howie, who is an expert not only in all-things-outdoors, but in dragging along small children for the ride. howie has two grandchildren of his own (7yrs and 4 yrs) and outfitted his kayak with a special "outrigger" kids kayak for his grandkids to ride along in. for canoeing, howie supplies those small fold-up canvas camping chairs for the kids to sit in. genius - i tell you! when i was a kid, i distinctly remember being made to sit on the cold, wet bottom of the canoe, and having my mother continually drip water on me from her paddle.

at first, ava wasn't too keen on her lifejacket. then we discovered that it has a whistle tied on to it, and life was good again (bless you mr. clever lifejacket manufacturer). once we set off in the canoe, ava was great. i thought for sure she'd try to climb out of the canoe, but 95% of the time she sat in her little chair and took in the scenery perfectly peacefully.

homesick

when you have a two-year old, it can frequently be difficult to tell whether they are trying to tell you something important / deep . . . or whether they are just spewing their usual stream of consciousness nonsense, and you are just over-interpreting. as i relate ava's summer adventures to john, he's been occasionally accusing me of the latter.

over the summer, ava's had several episodes where i suspected she was trying to communicate the concepts that a) she has another home, in california, and it comes with a daddy and b) she misses them. however, this completely contradicts ava's typical attitude which goes something like : "if you are not standing directly in front of me, i could not possibly care less whether or not you exist". for example : the number of times she mentioned mommy for the 10 days that i was in thunder bay and she was in california with daddy : one.

yesterday, when we pulled up to daycare, ava looked disappointed to see where we wound up and said "i go home!", "i go home!". since she hadn't seemed very sad about leaving grandma's house, i was a little puzzled. this morning, she made her point a little clearer. as we were leaving grandma's house, she said "bye bye grandma" and went outside happily. then she stopped, looked a little sad again and said "i go home! i go home!". we drove to daycare, and when i parked the car she looked really sad again and said "i go home . . . daddy! daddy!".

of course, ten seconds later she hopped out of the car and started chasing a seagull with a big grin on her face saying "chick-chick-chickadee!" (ava's got some inter-species bird identification issues.)

grandma at the beach

grandma is still feeling better every day, and this weekend requested that we go on an expedition to the beach at lake mary louise. it turns out that ava is a huge wimp about even slightly cold water, and pretty much refused to do more than dip a toe in. she liked playing around in the sand though, and spent some good lounging time with grandma.

ice cream

one of the many great things about having a grandpa in action is that he suggests fun activities . . . like taking ava out for an ice cream cone. hmm. . . good idea . . . come to think about it - ava's never had an ice cream cone before! that probably sounds like child abuse to anyone that does not live in san francisco - but the sad truth about ava's home town is that it's very rarely hot enough to desire an ice cream cone. consequently, we're not exactly flush with ice-cream providing establishments.

despite her late entry to the ice-cream eating game, ava tackled her first cone quite professionally. about halfway through, she obviously got full, but was too enamored with the whole idea to let go of the cone. finally, i drew on her puzzling love of putting things in the trash, and we made a little celebration of tossing the remainder of the cone in the garbage.

a note to our canadian readers: yes, of course, san francisco is in california, but NO it's almost never hot. san francisco is an aberrant blip of bad weather surrounded by an entire state that is almost always sunny. in the summer, we typically have about 6 straight weeks where we never see the sun, and instead are buried in horrible freezing fog and wind. and no, you never see this in my pictures, because when it's foggy i instantly become too lazy and depressed to get out the camera. and yes, i'm tired of explaining this.

my grandpa

with grandma out of commission for much of the summer, grandpa stepped up to the plate for many rounds of active grandparenting. ava thought this was just dandy. when grandpa picked her up from a friend's house one day, as soon as she saw him, she sprinted towards him and jumped into his arms. apparently they had alot of fun that day, because the next day, ava stomped around the house sulking and demanding "my grandpa! my grandpa!". on other occasions, we've revisited places most recently visited with grandpa and ava expectantly searches all over for him. even funnier, she went looking for him at the grocery store, because she went to the grocery store with grandpa last time she was in thunder bay!

i'm sorry kitty

ava adores grandma's cat, but, of course, has a very special way of expressing this. over the summer, i've found ava :

  • lying on top of the cat
  • washing the cat with the garden hose
  • "brushing" the cat with a plastic rake
  • "feeding" the cat dirt and rocks
  • trying to put clothes on the cat

today, the cat finally had enough and fought back. ava and the cat were in the living room, and ava came running into the kitchen displaying a small wound on her forearm saying "bite you! bite you!" , "cat did it!". since ava was actually distinctly non-hysterical about the incident, i decided that perhaps there could be a moral to the story. so, i proceeded to explain that the cat was old, and ava needed to be more gentle, etc. ava listened rather solemnly and then said "i'm sorry kitty . . . "

(icing on the cake : over the summer she's picked up a distinctly canadian accent on the word "sOOOOrry"!)

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

car trouble

ever since arriving in thunder bay, ava has been on a miraculous good behavior streak. there have only been two exceptions to her default angelic behavior

  1. she's been quite the screamer at bedtime.
  2. she's become a control freak in the car

ava has always been a fan of (ridiculously lame kids) music in the car. it didn't take long after her first word for her to start piping up "music! music!" from the back seat. in the last few days though, she's crossed another milestone - now she demands specific songs. this is fine - as long as i know what's she's talking about. i've figured out what she means by "baby music" and "tick tock! tick tock!" - but a few other requests have left me sorely baffled ("ducky music!" "girl music!"). and if i can't come up with the right track in 15 seconds or less, there is a terrible meltdown in the back seat.

having figured out that she can (remotely) control the cd player, ava is now attempting to control the rest of the vehicular operation too. she has developed opinions on

  1. whether or not the sun visor is up or down
  2. at what speed the windshield wipers are wiping
  3. who gets to hold the keys
this last item is particularly difficult to negotiate. i swear we had the following conversation today
  • ava : my keys! my keys!
  • cailin : i need the keys to drive the car. if i give you the keys we can't go anywhere.
  • ava : i'll give them back!
  • cailin : i can't give you the keys because the car will stop
  • ava : stop! . . . a minute . . . stop!

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