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Cassidy Anne Cvengros
By Maire Farrington
Noe Valley newcomers Dave and Sam Cvengros moved here from Chicago when Dave accepted a position at Barclay's Global Investors. Dave arrived first, in December 1999, and stayed with a friend on Diamond Street.
Since the couple were expecting their first child, "I looked all over the city for a community that seemed friendly and had a lot of babies," Dave says. "It just so happened I found an apartment across the street, in this neighborhood, which was perfect for Sam and so welcoming."
Sam soon followed, in late January 2000, arriving at their new abode when she was 51/2 months pregnant. "I was telecommuting and traveling a lot," says Sam, who works for a public relations firm (the "milk mustache" campaign being one of her projects). "Then I had preterm labor in March and was on bed rest for five weeks."
Daughter Cassidy Anne Cvengros arrived at 6:43 a.m. on April 24, 2000, at California Pacific Medical Center. Though a few weeks early, she weighed in at a healthy 6 pounds, 7 ounces. "The birth was wonderful," says Sam. "It was such an easy birth, I feel really blessed.
It wasn't until after her birth that Cassidy's parents chose her name. "We spent the whole pregnancy debating names," Sam relates. "Everybody thought it was going to be a boy, so we were really focused on boys' names. Cassidy was the first name that we both liked."
Cassidy (who also answers to "Shortcake") has light brown hair, blue eyes, and a wonderful toothless grin.
"She's a real flirt," says Dave. "When she's feeding on the breast, she'll stop and smile and look up at Sam." Dad will then engage in a pretend conversation, speaking for his daughter: "Hey, bartender, let me tell you about my life. My dad never changes my diapers -- it stinks!" And, says Dave, "we like to say that Cassidy's already said her first word. It's 'apu.' We believe it's French. If anybody out there knows if it's French or not, let us know."
Sam, 30, and Dave, 33, met on an airplane in 1996 while Sam was living in New York and Dave was based in Chicago. "Sam had this New York keep your nose straight ahead don't make eye contact self-protection kind of thing," Dave recalls. "I tried to start up a conversation, and she wouldn't talk to me." His sense of humor soon won her over, and when he discovered they were scheduled for the same return flight, Dave arrived early and arranged to sit next to Sam.
"We dated ever since," Sam says. "Then I moved to Chicago a few months later to be with him. We got married the following year."
Now the proud parents are having fun exploring their new neighborhood. "We're really happy here," says Sam. "For being newcomers, we feel a real sense of belonging and community. It's very easy to talk to people on the street and at the coffee shops." She especially appreciates the connections she's made through Natural Resources on Castro Street. "I have a nice support group of 25 other new moms that I can relate to. That's been a godsend."
"We like to take Cassidy on really long walks in Noe Valley, all up and down Church and Sanchez," says Dave. Sometimes the family dog Steve, a Maltese, rides underneath the stroller in the grocery compartment. Mom and Baby occasionally escort Dave to the BART station on weekday mornings and then stop off at the Diamond Corner Cafe, where Sam writes while Cassidy catches a few z's.
The couple bought a camper van when they moved to San Francisco so they could continue their active lifestyle with baby in tow. "We've done a lot of wilderness camping, even though it's hard to do with an infant," says Dave. "We've driven all over California since she was six weeks old."
The threesome have made weekend jaunts to the Russian River, Pt. Reyes, Half Moon Bay, Big Sur, Sacramento, and Sonoma Valley. "We bring the dem-ographics down in the trailer parks," Dave quips. "It's like, here's two 30-year-old people, and everyone else is in their 60s and 70s."
Back home on Diamond Street, Cassidy keeps herself amused with her picture books and automatic chair swing. And, says Sam, "she loves the light fixtures on the ceiling. It's the weirdest thing. She'll stare at them, and then you see a little smile and you hear a laugh. And you think, What is she doing? I always think that it's my grandmother or a guardian angel sitting up there talking to her."
Dad notes that Cassidy seems to have inherited his ability to concentrate. "When I focus, I really focus. I get hypnotized by what I'm working on. And Cassidy will look at something and keep on looking, and suck in all the information."
Mom agrees. "She's a real thinker. Lots of people say that about her. She always has a crinkled brow."
Dave sings to his daughter, who enjoys his rendition of "Old Man River" and Woody Guthrie songs. "One night, Neil Young was on the stereo, and I was singing along and holding her," Dave says. "The only light was the green light from the stereo and she reached up and put her hands in the air, and I could see her really looking at her hands and squeezing them together. I just watched her discover her hands, and I thought, Damn, it's unbelievable. It was a special moment."
Although Cassidy tends to be very alert and active during the day, "she's a horrible sleeper, so I don't have a dream baby," says Sam. But, Mom adds, "she just started to laugh -- which is a wonderful stage. It makes you forget all the sleepless nights. You just melt."
One of the sweeter moments for Dave is when he gets up early to go into work and Mom and Baby sleep in. "They'll have the same body position," he says. "Cassidy might have her arm underneath her head and her right elbow sticking out, and Sam's sleeping right next to her in the same position. I just look into that bed and I count my blessings. And I say, I'm the luckiest guy in the world. My family has been the best thing that's ever happened."
Sam shares the sentiment. "She's really changed our life," she says. "I see the whole world differently. No one could have ever prepared me or my husband for how wonderful this experience is."