Sunday, July 23, 2006

What did she say?

Yesterday afternoon, while Gwen was out trying to find lighting fixtures for our soon-to-be-completed kitchen and dining room, I was hanging out in the basement with Madison and Ava. We were playing with a toy called Kid K’Nex, a really great collection of plastic pieces, eyes and wings that can be connected to make any number of imaginary animals, birds, bugs, aliens – everything is fair game with Kid K’Nex.

We have a few different sets and each one comes with a visual map of the various creature possibilities. Ava took a look at the map for the set she was playing with, featuring probably two dozen distinct figures, and as she waved her hand across the field of possibilities said, “Dad, I want you to help me make all these things.”

Before I could even answer, Madison – who is always watching, always sizing up the situation and keeping a close eye on all the angles – said, “Daddy, are you really going to help Ava make everything on that page?”

Without even really considering the question I mumbled some kind of hedge, something like, “Oh, I don’t know if we’ll get through all of them,” at which point Ava practically yelled, "Dad! I’m counting on you!"

It’s one of the interesting things happening in our family at the moment, the verbalization of Ava’s amazing personality. Virtually every day she comes out with something, often unprompted and always completely unscripted, that just blows us away.

Ava runs full throttle all the time, no matter where she is, no matter what she’s doing, which has resulted in more than her fair share of skinned knees. A few weeks ago she was going full gallop down the street and she lost her balance and face planted, badly ripping up both knees in the process. I wasn’t there, Gwen told me about it, and when I asked Ava about it that night she said, without hesitation, “the ground was tricking me.”

She is prone to telling people who are frustrating her or not acceding to her wishes that they are being “rude.” When I took my shirt off at my parents’ pool a few weeks ago so I could carry her into the water - the only way she’ll go in at this point - she proceeded to announce to the entire group, in the cutest most good-natured voice possible, “Hey everybody, look at my Daddy’s boobies!”

This morning Gwen was off to another lighting store, so the girls and I went food shopping. I love taking them food shopping on the weekends, we get one of those enormous carts with the big plastic anti-bacterial (yeah, right) seats on the back and munch on bagels while we wander the aisles and collide with other shoppers.


[The latest advance in inmate transport at Pelican Bay? No, someone's idea of a safe and comfortable way to get through a supermarket with small children.]

As we pulled up to the store we were all chatting and Ava made some comment that prompted me to ask her how she got so smart. She gave me a satisfied look and said, “the rules inside my mouth help me talk like that.”

Madison’s been on a little kick asking me about my work and office lately. This began a couple of days ago out of nowhere, she wanted to know whether or not the office I go to now would be the one I would go to for the rest of my life, whether or not I’d switch to a different office or – this was the option that really appealed to her – stop going to the office at some point and just stay home with them. She also thinks it would be good if I was a salesman in a paint store, but I’m dismissing this because she got the idea while we were parked outside a Sherwin-Williams store waiting for Gwen.

Ava was around for these little conversations and this morning on the drive to the supermarket, unprompted, said (this is a direct quote, I wrote it down) “When I was a Dad I worked in California and you couldn’t touch the walls and you had to wear gloves and shoes because there were staplers and it was dangerous. Dangerous, dangerous.”

We’re heading to the beach tomorrow for a few days, my parents rented a house and we’re all converging on the free accommodations and looking forward to the family time together and the next sentence out of Ava’s mouth.

We have to be back by Friday because our granite countertops are being installed. We are dangerously close to posting an “after” photo of the kitchen, to follow the demo shot that was added to this site in June. Wish us luck, we’re starting to get excited about being able to cook in our home again. We’ve eaten so much pizza over the last six weeks that I’m getting sick of it, which I did not think was possible. Ava’s favorite food in the world is scrambled eggs, which cannot be made in a toaster oven or microwave, so I sometimes think she’s been marking this time more closely than any of us. In honor of Ava, the menu for our first meal in the new space has already been decided.

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