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Ava is 3.5 Years Old

I miss the old format of describing Ava.  In honor of her turning 3.5, I thought I’d write one.

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava has great motor skills.  She’s very close to being able to brush her teeth on her own, she just needs help with the back parts of her teeth.
  • Speaking of teeth, Ava likes to have intricate routines.  When I brush her teeth, it’s three turns for brushing, and four mouthwash rinses using two different mouthwashes.
  • She’s taken an interest in other kids.  When we go places she asks if her friends will be there.  The other weekend we went to a place with a bouncy house.  She really liked this girl there about her age and started holding her hand.  I’m working on finding more friends for her.
  • Ava is getting really good at drawing. She makes pictures of people with identifiable features. She’s working on their expressions, so she’ll use eyebrows to show anger and mouths to show happy smiles. And she concentrates so hard when she draws! We try to feed her interests and respect her needs. I remember getting so mad when I was little and people didn’t take me seriously, so I understand.
  • The picture below is Peach Cat, which is Ava’s name for Princess Peach from Mario Odyssey.


Foods and Liquids

  • Ava loves potatoes in every form.  Last weekend she had mashed potatoes for dinner, then french fries for lunch, then potato pancakes for dinner.  Then she demanded more french fries.
  • I think spaghetti is a close second.  Every time I put a soup in front of Ava she says, I don’t like [color] soup.  I like the red one, i.e. spaghetti.
  • Ava will eat any food that is created with egg beaters because she thinks it’s dessert.  She ate a ton of sweet potato souffle, even though she doesn’t like sweet potatoes, because I made the dish with an egg beater.  It will be interesting to see how I can make quesadillas using egg beaters.



  • I love daylight savings in the fall because it means Ava starts going to bed at a reasonable hour.  I was able to push her bedtime back to about 9 p.m., which is glorious and she naturally wakes up between 7:30 and 8:00.  Before daylight savings her regular bedtime was 10:30 and I had to wake her up at 8:30.  Do not wake Ava up, it might ruin the whole day.


Language Skills

  • Ava’s language is amazing.  She says some very charming phrases like when she ran down the halls of the library saying “I’m running amuck!”
  • Ava is obsessed with the characters from Mario Odyssey: Mario, Bowser, and Princess Peach. She can talk about these characters for 30 minutes and she often wants us to act out different characters and tell you what the characters would say.

No Papparazzi


2017 Garden

Gardening was so much fun this year.  We had our usual cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes and we added melons, tomatillos, and herbs.

Pro-tip for planting melons: that one little seedling will result in many melons, so you don’t need to plant four seedlings for each type of melon in the garden.  I think I’ve eaten enough melons for the next two years.  I did enjoy watermelon gazpacho and watermelon feta salad, though.  Watermelon gazpacho used watermelon, cucumbers, basil, and jalapeños from the garden, so it was the ultimate dish.


Peppers and tomatoes, on the other hand, can be combined in infinite ways and I’ll never get tired of them.



Tomatillos are amazing and I’ll use them so much more now.  I made salsa; a recipe that is described as a mole, but was more like a soup; and a dish with shrimp and tomatillos.  So good!  The dish below is tomatillo salsa, poached egg, smoked trout, and homemade potato pancake.  It’s a very simple amazing recipe.


I also filled planter two boxes up with herbs.  When we were receiving a CSA I discovered that fresh herbs make all the difference.  Dried tarragon doesn’t taste like anything, but fresh tarragon has a wonderful slightly licorice flavor.  I filled the planter boxes with rosemary, basil, tarragon, thyme, lavender (which never produced, but maybe next year), and oregano.  The results were amazing.  You don’t need butter and cheese when you can get flavor through herbs.

The herbs are also nice because I make homemade kombucha and it tastes amazing with herbs.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had basil blueberry kombucha or cherry rosemary kombucha.


I’m sad that the season is over, but now I can make all these hearty meals with mushrooms.  In the summer we are so overwhelmed with garden vegetables that I don’t like buying produce from the store.  All winter I can buy guilt free.




Halloween was interesting this year because Ava doesn’t like costumes.  She thinks if you wear a costume it means you will become the thing represented by the costume.  She didn’t even want to be a kitty, until we explained that candy was involved.  Then she was not only okay with it, she wanted me to take a picture of her tail.



Jon went as David S. Pumpkins and the neighborhood went crazy.


Jon took Ava to trick-or-treating of the businesses from 4-6 and then we all went trick-or-treating after dinner.  We made a full circle up the street, down the opposite side, and up back to our house.  Ava walked up to our house and Ava said, “Open the door please.”  Jon responded, “We can take you to another street!  Do you want to keep going?”  Ava replied, “No, I’m all done.  Open the door.”  And with that she was done.

Pipe cleaner spiders


That night Ava had three pieces of candy and spun in circles for 30 minutes until she crashed.


Inside Out

Watching animated movies with Ava has always been more of a duty than a joy.  But I love the movie “Inside Out” and I thought Ava was old enough to enjoy it so we watched it last weekend.  For people not familiar with the movie, it’s about an 11-year old girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco.  The movie is shown from the perspective of her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust.  The moral of the movie is that we need to feel negative emotions and we can’t pretend that things aren’t difficult by only pretending to experience joy.


Ava was hooked as soon as she saw Anger blow fire out of his top.  She thought he was so funny.

DSC_6507 (1)

Jon bought a toy Anger and she was initially scared of him because she thought he was real.  After Ava and Jon talked about it, she started treating Anger like a baby and made a bed for him.  She also makes care packages for the other emotions.


Jon also bought these wonderful books that each cover one of the emotions.  Each day Ava wants us to narrate for at least one of the emotions.  She’ll ask, “What’s Anger saying?”  The first day was Anger, the second day was Sadness, and the subsequent days have been mostly Fear, but with a little Joy and Disgust mixed in.


It was so fun to watch the movie with Ava because she follows the plot line very well and asks a lot of questions.


Ava is such a charming little girl.  But don’t call her a girl.  She’s really a kitty and she gets mad if you call her anything but a kitty.  She can’t even handle this TV show Super Why where they refer to the audience as Super Readers.  She tells the television, “No, I’m a kitty.”  When people ask her name she says “Kittycat [Last name].”  Sometimes she says “Kittycat Ava Michelle [Last name].”  But never only Ava.


Ava is obsessed with space.  She’s always asking what earth, moon, sun, and Venus are saying.  She also talks about Mars, Neptune, and Uranus.  She’s quickly learning the positions of all the planets relative to the sun.  She also loves the joke that moon eats cheese.  She always asks “What kind of cheese?”


Ava does not want anything to change.  The other night she said right before she fell asleep, “I want to stay little.”  Ava can’t stand any story that involves a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.  She can’t even stand the ending to The Pout Pout Fish where the pout pout fish becomes a kiss kiss fish.


Ava Happenings

Hello!  After Ava turned three and I stopped doing the monthly posts, it became a lot harder to come up with topics even though I have so many Ava stories!


Ava has been taking swimming lessons.  She loves the water and she often cries in the morning if it isn’t a swimming lesson day or she has to wait until after lunch to go swimming.  When she swims, the teachers’ biggest problem is that Ava tries to swim away from them and swim on her own.


Next week Ava is starting ballet lessons.  Every time she sees ballet on television she starts doing the moves, so we thought she needed some ballet lessons.  We bought Ava the ballet shoes, put on The Nutcracker, and Ava danced around the room until bedtime.


Here are some Ava quirks:

  • Ava has strong opinions about what clothing she wears.  She feels that all shirts should be long-sleeved shirts (“Does it goes all the way down?”).  When the temperature is above 95, though, she begrudgingly wears t-shirts.  She also prefers pullups to underwear even though she’s fully potty trained.
  • Ava has been having a lot of tantrums.  It used to be that she got upset because she couldn’t express herself.  Now, I think she does it to relieve strong emotions.  She’s much more likely to tantrum before bed.
  • Ava is really into baking.  Someone in the house has a birthday every day and she makes them a cake with flour, sugar, water, and spices.  She’ll taste the spices so it’s improving her palette.  Teddy Roosevelt usually has several birthdays a day.


The Beatles

I’ve never known many nursery rhymes or good songs to sing to Ava at night.  I can sing the entire album “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails, but you wouldn’t understand half the songs if you had to omit all the “fucks” from the lyrics.  So it’s very lucky that I also know a lot of Beatles Songs.  Even more lucky, Ava loves hearing Beatles songs.  The first song she ever memorized was “In My Life.”


As Ava learns about language, she has started to ask about the song lyrics I sing during bedtime.  In the Beatles song “I’m So Tired,” John Lennon sings “I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little piece of mind.”  Ava wanted to know why the singer would give a “piece of mind.”  We had a long talk about what an expression is and how the song is about a man who needs comfort.


We also talk about the meaning of songs.  Ava was really worried when I told her that “Yesterday” is about a women who doesn’t love a man anymore.  I explained that they were just dating and not family because she was worried that it could happen to her.  We spent a long time talking about how family never leaves.  In terms of meaning, Ava much prefers “In My Life” because I explained that it’s about how a mom realizes that all her relationships mean nothing once she has her daughter.


I think I need to stop singing “Norwegian Wood” because there’s no delicate way to explain to a three-year old that the song is about how a man is scorned because a woman won’t sleep with her so he burns her house down.


Cape Cod

Ava has now visited both coasts!


We spent 11 days in Cape Cod in a little house on a pond in Orleans, MA.  The pond was great because the temperature was wonderful, unlike the Atlantic ocean, which was way too cold.  Fortunately, Skaket Beach is perfect because the water is very shallow.  The shallowness means it’s safer for kids and the water is warmer.  Also, no one is at the beach when it’s a little cloudy out.


Skaket Beach is on the side facing the mainland so it makes for gorgeous sunsets.



The other beach in Orleans is Nauset Beach and it was way too fucking cold.  It had fun waves, but Ava got cold so quickly she insisted that I hold her while we were in the water so only her toes would get wet.  As a result, we went to Skaket Beach about 10 times as compared to a single visit to Nauset Beach.  It’s hard to beat these views.


Although we spent most of the time in the water, Ava and I also visited a couple of museums.  She liked the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.  I found it a bit puzzling because the people who worked there don’t seem to understand that the people who designed the museum designed it for kids. The employees went around telling kids not to touch things.  I’m still confused about why they had these big bins with fish and plants and step stools for the kids and yet they got mad when the kids would stick their hands inside the bins.  But Ava didn’t mind and she had the best time.  Especially in the shark cage.


And with the bird exhibit.


Ava was less thrilled about our visit to the Cape Cod Museum of Art, but I think it was a valuable experience.  I would show her different artistic techniques and explain how she had used similar techniques.  Art is really important to Ava so I hope she’ll develop a love of art history.


I already miss Cape Cod.  Although I’ve been living in the West for over a decade, it still doesn’t feel right because everything is so dry.  It felt right to be living in a lush environment.  Ava liked all the animals and insects.  She saw her first lightening bugs, caterpillars, and toads.  This little toad lived in a stump right outside the house.  We would check on him several times a day.




In some ways I’ve felt like Ava has been three for months, but the night before her birthday I was incredibly sad to no longer have a two-year old.  I love how she’s growing up and our conversations, but I miss baby Ava.


Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava likes to copy our behaviors, so we’re trying to get her to be a helper.



  • I don’t want to jinx it, but Ava is potty trained.  She’s been wearing underwear with very few accidents.  One day her nanny put her in underwear and Ava went with it!  I had been hesitating because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to deal with the pee, so I’m super grateful to Ava’s nanny.
  • Ava thankfully likes to wear a sunhat.  We went to a shaded area and she said she didn’t have to wear her sun hat because it’s a sun hat and not a shade hat.
  • Ava loves stories.  She especially loves stories that involve herself.  I used to tell her stories where she’s the main character and after I finished, she’d always say “Again!”  Now Ava has started interjecting details and telling her own stories.
  • At night I sing songs about an animal in the bed that rolls over and a mother animal looking for her babies. The type of animal changes every night or  there’s a new activity.  Tonight ducks were eating macaroni while they played.  There’s also often a new animal on the bus that I have to sing about.
  • Ava has been extra interested in our Worf cutout lately.  She likes to draw pictures for him and read to him with her nanny.


Foods and Liquids

  • I think Ava’s favorite food right now is French fries.
  • Ava’s favorite drink is kombucha.  She calls is “bucha.”


  • Sleep is pretty consistent.  Ava usually naps about once every 1-2 weeks.  I prefer for her to not nap unless her skipping naps starts to wear on her and she seems chronically grumpy.

Language Skills

  • Last month Ava was obsessed with the word “macaroni.” I can’t tell you how happy she was when one of her books had a part about Macaroni Penguins.  Ava already loves penguins so  Macaroni Penguins are the best!
  • Ava’s newest word is “muggle.”  She has no experience with Harry Potter so I think it’s just a word that she enjoys the sound of.  The other night she described a muggle as a grey thing with pink eyes and green hair that eats fish and drinks milk.  It moves using slime and at night they all sleep in the pockets of our clothing.  I drew one for her – what do you think?


  • Ava didn’t think it was accurate.  I was rather disappointed.  I thought we had the makings of a fantastic children’s book.






Ava had a great Easter.  We gave Ava an Easter basket first thing in the morning.  We tried to make it healthy by adding egg-shaped fruit to the basket like a kiwi, a mango, and a papaya.  Ava was more excited about the chocolate, though.  And the plastic duck, especially the plastic duck.


After breakfast we attended our street’s annual Easter egg hunt.  These events are the reason that we live on this street.  Everyone participating in the hunt dropped off 15 eggs on Saturday.  The hosts combined the eggs and planted them on the street.


Last year Ava enjoyed picking up eggs.  This year Ava was more interested in the contents of the eggs.  So much so that she found four eggs and wanted to open them instead of continuing to hunt.  Then ten minutes later she realized there were more eggs to search for.  Fortunately, someone put a ton of eggs in a bush next to our house so we pilfered from there.  Last year there was no candy in the eggs, this year it was about 70% candy.  Ava approved.


One person who filled Easter eggs does not understand child safety, though, because they filled some eggs with magic capsules.  These things look like pills, but when you put them in water the gel capsule dissolves and this foam inside expands to look like an animal.  That’s an incredibly dangerous thing to have around toddlers.  If a kid ate one, they’d end up needing surgery!  Fortunately, when we explained this to Ava she understood and didn’t try to eat them.  Instead, she focused on the Easter eggs that included balloons!


We’re still using the Easter materials.  Ava enjoys mixed media and she’s been taping the plastic eggs and the grass that comes in Easter egg baskets to paper.  After Easter we went up and down the street trying to find more grass for her to use, which was delightful because we helped Ava with her art and cleaned up the neighborhood.



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