Friday, December 21, 2007

Stephanie's Graduation Weekend

Raina received an easel for painting and coloring and other artsy-type activities. She loves it, and would paint everyday if we let her. When she averages five paintings per session, we quickly run out of "drying" space!
But it didn't take the parents long to realize combining recent Raina passions would be a good thing. We take her paintings, cut them into stars and diamonds and other shapes she recognizes, add copious amounts of glitter, and then make new ornaments for the tree. She's really enjoyed all of the art projects as of late. We haven't enjoyed the continuous mess -- you can never really remove glitter from your life once it has emerged -- but the end products are masteful. Yay for Raina art!
Raina came home from daycare with a "COOL" sticker on her forehead. We liked the branding.
I just liked this shot. I believe Eric is trying to stall and distract Raina before we loaded up for Nashville.
Here is a companion photograph from last xmas, at a hotel in Owensboro, I believe.
Finally, we were off. (It took the Whomptons FOREVER to get out of the house for this trip!) Raina was very enthusiastic about the journey and kept repeating all the Compton names. It didn't take long for the novelty to wane; maybe 2 hours into the journey she was ready to go home. The remainder of our trip was not as pleasant as this photo suggests :)
Raina donned festive attire for Stephanie's graduation. She also acquired her very first purse, which came with a "change purse" (really that Walgreens container), sunglasses, numerous credit cards, and a day planner. She eagerly stuffed everything she could into her new purse.
Stephanie treated a large group of family and friends to a tasty brunch before commencement. Unfortunately for Raina, a big group of adults means lots of talking and not much of interest. She quickly made her own entertainment, transforming herself into Raina Dog, and crawling, barking, and fetching with glee. She got all the adults involved in a throwing/catching game (adults toss a star to land perfectly into Raina's outstretched hands) and in stuffing the star down her shirt and laughing hysterically as she tried to get it out. In retrospect, this brunch and graduation could have been a huge disaster for Raina -- her patience could have worn thin very quickly -- but she shone like the wonderful kid she is.
This picture is too cute for words.
At the graduation ceremony, Raina had a blast climbing up and down the stairs, clapping at opportune occasions, playing with her chair, and drawing pictures. Then she got bored. Mom, Dad, and Emily walked with Raina for quite a while around the stadium, trying to wear her out so she could go to sleep. She finally succumbed about 10 minutes before Stephanie walked the stage. The ample Compton shouting for Angie, Stephanie, and Barry did not wake her. Nor did the airhorns or the entire stadium celebrating at the end. That kid was tired!
A new variation on Hop, Stop. Raina played Hop, Pop for a very long time.
Yay, the ride home! All Whomptons were happy to be headed home, although none were happy about being stuck in the car again. Interstate driving is boring. But we eventually got to parts of the highway with bridges and overpasses. The whole car did an exciting countdown to the bridge and then would scream as we went under it. The last 30 minutes of the trip were by far the best!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Winter Season and Other Stories

Raina received a stacking ring tower for xmas last year, and she still enjoys playing with it. Of course, now it's in non-traditional ways.

Raina is always very proud of herself when she creates something new, and she wants to show off her successes. This may be the sixth or seventh iteration of Mr. Potato Head that day. She's just so pleased with herself!
Raina eats either K (special K) or cereal (Shredded Oat Squares) for breakfast. This time, she brought a book to breakfast and read it to herself as she ate. She told the story, turned the pages, and everything. It was eerie to see such an adult action from the little miss.
We had a transparent piggy bank (from ages and ages ago) that stored all of our coins. Raina enjoyed playing with it, carrying it around, turning the bottom, remarking on its weight, and making it oink. Unfortunately, she dropped it one day and it split right in two. She was sad to see it go, but was VERY enthusiastic about moving all the coins into her fishy bank, courtesy of Jessie and Francis. I think it took her a good 20 minutes to move everything over. She had a really good time.
Raina joyous after her weekly bath :)
It's bitterly cold outside and we layer Raina up appropriately if she's playing. Here she's wearing a long-sleeve shirt, a sweater, a jacket with hoodie, long-johns, sweat pants, scarf/belt, sock hat, and mittens to come.
The big kids playground -- her favorite place.
Raina walks around the house and assigns possession to the most mundane, random items. Daddy's shoes, Mommy's computer, Sammy's dog, Raina's toy. She even can specify between Mommy and Sammy's library books. So when she claimed this Douglas Adams book as her own, we did not fight her. For about a week she wanted it read to her, and she happily listened to the story. She even memorized a part: "Click, hum. Click, click, hum. Click, click, click, click, click, click, hum. Hmmm." She laughs hysterically each time she gets to hmmmm.
Oh, the whistle. She overwhelmingly enjoys the pained and tormented looks of her parents each time she pulls it out.
Raina made an ornament at daycare and hung it on the tree on Friday. That action, coupled with viewing all sorts of external xmas lights and decorations, prompted us to put up our own tree. Raina's first xmas had a fully decked tree; last year, we had no lights and only ornaments above her reach. This year, Raina put all the ornaments up herself, so they are concentrated at the lower branches. In fact, the obsessive organizer in Raina kept putting all similar looking ornaments on the same branch. It took a lot of convincing to move snow-people onto multiple branches.
Raina has learned that she can move her stepstool all over the house. She frequently grabs it when we're cooking so she can see all the action. It didn't take her long to realize that the stepstool would be of great assistance for tree decorating. Her favorite part, though, was when an adult picked her up so she could reach the very top.
Raina's finished product.
And for the final piece. Krystal's mom gave us a nativity scene from Alaska, which is mostly mocking of the Inuit people. But the polar bear, wolf, and caribou additions are pretty cute. Raina was entranced.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Raina plays games!

We Whomptons LOVE playing games: card games, board games, sports games. Raina plays too. She has a Memory game that we play together, a CandyLand game which has had limited success, and a bunch of Raina imagination inspired games. Eric routinely builds pillow/blanket forts for Raina, we play hide and seek versions all the time, and Raina happily "plays video games" with daddy, which mostly involves her holding a controller while Eric plays. We've also played some great games outside; we chase in the leaves, roll around, hide, etc. The best was trying to catch falling leaves (from trees) before they hit the ground.

Raina has become more of a gaming ringleader as of late. Last night, she played "Ba-Doop" with Eric, PattyCake with Krystal, Ring a Round the Rosie with both parents, and then she taught us a new game, Hop Stop. Raina decided to play this game, but we didn't know it, so SHE TAUGHT US how to play. Amazing!

Thanksgiving at the Whomptons

Because Krystal and Eric have family in Kentucky and Nashville, which are somewhat close to Saint Louis and certainly close to each other, the Whomptons traditionally travel for the holidays. And we travel to both sets of families, which means multiple Thanksgiving meals, multiple rounds of opening gifts, endless streams of pecan pie, and ridiculous amounts of NPR and bad xmas music. We decided that, this year, the Whomptons would celebrate Thanksgiving in Saint Louis, and we invited all of our families to travel to see us. We were very surprised when all family members said, "um, okay, see you then," and suddenly we were hosting 16 people for Thanksgiving.

Now, our house is not equipped for 16 people. We can barely seat 6 people in our living room, and our cheap KMart table seats 5 people if we all squeeze. But the prospect of combining the White and Compton families together was so exciting that it determined to make it work.

- immediately ordered more plates, bowls, and silverware
- sat down and planned the menu, the shopping list, and the week's schedule of cleaning, cooking, and Raina care
- practiced making food we'd never really made before. We made a practice turkey, pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, a fruity bundt cake (which did not make the final cut), and some other things. We then made insane modifications on all things and hoped that our recipe changes would work on the big day. Here's the pumpkin cheesecake.

- pondered, "Good God, what have we gotten ourselves into?" and
- went shopping for a real dining room table. We didn't expect one to seat 16, but 10-12 would be nice. Krystal and Sammy fell in love with a lovely walnut table, but Eric was opposed. After another few weeks of very painful searching, we returned back to that same store, and Eric suddenly saw the light. We ordered the table and delighted that it would be delivered the day before Thanksgiving. Success!

Over the next few weeks, we learned that our numbers had dwindled. First, we lost Stephanie, then we lost all 6 members of Josh's family. It made life easier to plan for a smaller number of people, but it made life more exciting to plan for everyone. All of our cooking and cleaning was worth it because our families were here.

What was most surprising was the relative lack of leftovers from that weekend. Krystal was in charge of consuming the chocolate-pumpkin cheesecake, so that took a while (no one else wanted it, apparently) and we have some turkey. Everything else was essentially gone. Krystal was disappointed to learn that she had to make another big meal so we'd have leftovers and "instant-meals" for this week.

We also learned a very important fact: Apparently the combination of Krystal and Emily is not the catalyst for continuous Compton family photos. For the first time (possibly ever) we did not take family photos. I guess it means we're double-due come the winter holidays :)

However, the camera came out plenty that weekend. Here are some nice shots of the White-Compton-Whompton families.

As you might well imagine, Bill's camera emerged many a time over the weekend. Here's Raina delighting in looking at the pictures and identifying who is in them. She just kept saying, "Raina, Raina, that's Raina too" over and over again.

Raina enjoying her Thanksgiving meal. She had to eat it in two stages.

For some random reason, Eric enjoyed putting advertisement inserts down Raina's pants. Admittedly, Raina thought it was hilarious too.

Emily hung out with us longer than anyone else. She took Raina to the big kids playground, played many games with us, gave us the first few seasons of Buffy, escorted at Hope, and played endlessly with Raina. Can you find her in the next two shots?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving at day care

The wednesday before thanksgiving Raina's daycare had a thanksgiving party. It included a relatively extensive buffet which all three of us hastily devoured. When the meal was complete and it was time for Krystal and Eric to leave, we got up and asked Raina to come over and give us a hug. While she was doing this another kid (Jaden) chose to go sit in the chair formerly occupied by Raina. When Raina discovered this she logged a formal complaint by fussing to her parents. But there were many other chairs to choose from and she was done with her lunch so it didn't seem to be necessary to try to get her chair back. Raina, upon discovering her parents were not going to retrieve her lost chair, broke down into a crying mess about it. At this point the Whompton parents are pretty unified that she does not get what she wants when she reaches this stage of fussing due to traditional anti-terrorism arguments. But then her favorite teacher, Jen, came over and asked what was wrong. Raina gladly gushed and whined her complaint to her new audience. And to our horror, she immediately turned around and demanded that Jaden move to a different chair. We immediately suggested that that was not necessary and then were horrified when Jen responded by saying "When she gives me that sad puppy dog face, I can't help but give her what she wants". AHHH!!! Our daughter has her 2 year old room teacher totally wrapped around her finger. Jen has told us that Raina is her favorite before, well at least we tell her no at home.

They are always smarter than you think

Raina was eating her lunch today and was wandering out of the kitchen into the living room. Her daddy told her as she entered the living room, "Raina, stay in the kitchen while you are eating." Raina looked at her daddy for a moment and then looked over at her mommy who was digging into a large piece of cheesecake while sitting on the couch just a few feet away and then said "But mommy is eating in the living room?" Both parents then hung their heads knowing we could no longer have double standards, because Raina is smart enough now to use them against us. Krystal finished her cheesecake in the kitchen.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween inspired pictures

During flag football and at other occasions, Raina was fascinated by a whistle. She really loved to blow it and make ridiculously loud sounds; it didn't take us very long to picture Raina as a referee for Halloween. We bought some black duct tape, got her a whistle, made a red card, and tried to prep her in appropriate officiating behavior. She'd raise her hands and say touchdown, but was intermittent in throwing the red card and saying "you're outta here!" Here is Raina watching for other people dressed like her.

We thought Raina's costume was adorable and perfect. We practiced it on the Sunday before Halloween and she refused to take it off. We had to bribe her with another costume to get the ref costume off. Unfortunately, come Halloween, Raina refused to put her ref costume back on, and so she went out in the same costume she wore last Halloween. We have the pictures to immortalize that we're not complete slackers. It's just unfortunate that, at age 2, she's already recycled her Halloween costume.

Here she is, all decked out in her "purple" costume. Eric brought this outfit back from Thailand last year. It fits perfectly now.

Each day we come home, we load up in the stroller and take Roxanne out for a walk. Raina knows she should wear a hat when outside; lately, she has switched to her winter hat and mittens. I believe it was 70 degrees outside on this day, but Raina wanted winter wear. She's pretty cute in it.
The little miss is all geared up for trick-or-treating. Raina was very eager to go, and got rather impatient with her parents at the end. The camera's batteries died and mommy had to put her costume back on. But, finally, we set out.

Raina's response to the command, "Say cheese!"

Weeks ago, the Whomptons celebrated autumn's approach by picking pumpkins. A few weeks later, Krystal panicked because we hadn't carved the pumpkins yet and we had to get it done before Halloween. We had a lovely afternoon carving pumpkins. Then the poor jack-o-lantern sat outside for WEEKS because Krystal was totally mistaken about how much time actually remained until Halloween. Anyway, Raina originally designed this pumpkin to be "happy" but, after multiple weeks of decay and then mold and insect growth, the pumpkin became quite desiccated and, in Raina's words, "scary." She became quite terrified of the pumpkin, and all through Halloween, she kept saying, "I don't like the scary pumpkin." Even now, when looking at the picture, she says "scary!" and turns away for a protective cuddle hug.
It totally mushed when we put it in the trash. A fun and disgusting experience all around.

Raina went to multiple houses for trick-or-treating. Each time, we prepped her on the whole procedure but she never responded to the people with "trick or treat" or even a smile. Instead, she retreated to a parent's arms and only emerged when the candy bowl came out. Raina was confused with the first person: she tried to give back the candy she had in her bag. Maybe she thought it was a candy exchange? After that initial encounter, though, she was quite an expert and she knew that she could get more and more candy by looking cute. Also, we asked her at the end of each house, "are we done, or do you want to go to one more house?" She always said another house, but then became trepadacious when approaching the house. However, as soon as she saw the candy bowl, she was all smiles.
postnote: Raina didn't eat the candy she collected. We came home and told her to empty her candy into the candy bowl. She happily did, and then we gave out all her candy to the other trick-or-treaters. She had a lot more fun playing with her Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF coins.

The latest Whompton family photo. If I remember to do it, I'll scan and post last year's version of this picture. You'll note that Raina and Krystal are happily in costume, and Eric is just wearing a polo and khakis. Eventually we'll get him in costume.

This woman recently moved on the street and her house was completely decked out. She carved her pumpkins: one had a cat and the other had two rats. Very cool! She was also the only other adult dressed up in costume.

After finishing trick-or-treating, we retreated home to answer the door, distribute candy, hear atrocious jokes, and paint pumpkins.

Raina was partial to the greens, blues, and purples when painting.

I just think she's cute in her ponytail.

Pictures of Raina and Roxanne