Thursday, December 25, 2008

Raina meets Santa

Raina met Santa when she was 1.5 years or so, and she was traumatized by the experience. Raina at 3.5 years was much more serene.

Raina and baby toys

We have been prepping some for Kid 2's arrival: we talk about the baby with Raina, we're deliberating names, we convinced Raina that she wanted to switch bedrooms, and we evaluated our toy status. Raina's favorite toy when she was very young was a little baby gym, complete with dangling things that she could grab and kick. She spent a lot of time playing there, but we gave it away (or returned it to its original owner, I don't exactly remember) and now, with Kid 2, we are lacking the best toy for her. I researched online and discovered that I could buy another one for $60 -- not exactly desirable, because we don't even buy ourselves toys for $60 -- so I have perused craigslist diligently for the last few days hoping to find it. Not as many people are willing to get rid of these, or they go very quickly once posted. But I finally found one, almost identical to Raina's although slightly better, and I grabbed it for a cool $15. Hooray!

The great and funny thing is that Raina has been playing with the baby gym continuously for the last two days. She wanted to find all her old baby toys and equip it, and she has stationed her lovies with it at various points so they could play too. We also acquired a baby sling, which Raina has enjoyed practicing with by carrying her baby doll around the house.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Developmental Milestones

Raina recently interviewed for a JK spot at MICDS, which meant that she did some sort of evaluative testing while her adult parents tried to explain how the family dynamic works. We can only hope that Raina did a better job showing off than we did!

The next week, Raina's Parents as Teachers evaluator came to visit and she continuously remarked about how savvy Raina was with all the activities: building block structures, matching shapes, counting, etc. Then Vicky left us a pamphlet about what we should expect a three year old kid to do, by the end of being three, and we totally understood her shock.

A few examples:
- The child should be able to count three separate things. Raina has been counting her ten fingers for over a year, and she counted her Halloween candy up to forty-two.
- The child should be able to count up to eight. Raina can count up to at least the forties without difficulty.
- The child should be able to work eight-piece puzzles. Raina has been doing 48 piece puzzles for a year now.
- The child should be able to list and identify four colors. I have no idea how long Raina has been able to do this -- maybe since she was one and a half or so.

I was stunned by the list, or, more accurately, by how far Raina exceeds them. Of course, the teacher in me immediately started questioning how the "average child" was determined and concluded that gender differences must have been completely ignored. All of these things that Raina is good at are skills that girls develop before boys do. Raina missed a checkmark off the gross motor development (she cannot stand on one foot), but I bet most boys conquered that one a long time ago. It makes me wonder if most girl parents are left feeling that their child is brilliant, whereas most boy parents are left feeling alarmed and concerned because their boy has not met the "appropriate language or fine motor development level" for an "average three year-old." The situation is sad.

Regardless, we learned that Raina cannot stand on one foot, so we chalked a hopscotch in the basement and let her practice jumping and landing on one foot. It's pretty amusing to watch, but I know she'll get better once her body and brain make the connections.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Holidays and Consumerism Galore

Raina's daycare was closed on Thanksgiving and the Friday after. Raina completely understood being closed on Thanksgiving -- family was coming for the Feast of Friendship -- but she didn't quite comprehend the Friday part until her teacher explained it. Here's what Raina learned:

Thursday is Thanksgiving. Friday is Shopping Day!

And suddenly it all made perfect sense to her. She, however, had no interest in actually going shopping on Shopping Day, so I had to buy pots all by myself.

Immediately following Thanksgiving began the Winter Holiday Indoctrination period. I'm being generous by saying "Winter Holidays" because, I'll be frank, Raina's school is all about teaching Christmas in the strictly consumeristic style. But they also spent a day a piece on Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, so it's all perfectly diverse and acceptable (to them). Anyway, Raina transitioned into wanting our Christmas tree to go up, to see Christmas decorations all around, to hearing and singing Christmas songs, to making Christmas ornaments, and to discussing Santa and presents. They even watched the Grinch Stole Christmas movie, which thoroughly terrified her, because she was worried that someone would steal our Christmas tree. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

So the Whomptons have changed the language within the house. We have a Holiday tree with holiday lights, we ignore Santa completely, we sing a lot of Jingle Bells and Rudolph, and we don't discuss presents at all. We've had small conversations about how different people celebrate different things, but haven't delved into my full American consumerism rant just yet. Needless to say, Raina is not receiving Christmas presents from us and we have standing agreements with family members to not give her presents either. I'm hopeful that Raina will learn that presents are happy surprises which her parents and loved ones will give her occasionally, as opposed to on designated "gimme, gimme!" days scattered throughout the year.

On the flip side of this, we're doing some minor giving / sharing work with Raina. Raina is in charge of putting the change into the Salvation Army collections, and we talk each time about all the good things that happen because of our sharing our change. Also, we "adopted" a second grade boy who wanted books as a gift, and she and I had a good time at Borders choosing all the books for Anthony. Yes, I know that giving gifts around the winter holidays increases the consumer tendencies, but how do you say no to a boy asking for books?!?

The good thing is that Raina, right now, has no expectations that Santa will be depositing a huge number of gifts under our holiday tree, and I hope that we can keep that going for years and years. Or at least through this holiday season!

Apparently Raina did have Santa expectations. She met Santa at daycare and told him that she wanted something princess oriented. (I think it was a Cinderella doll.) Christmas day passed and she did not receive said item. Maybe three days later, she asked when it would be Christmas. When I told her it had already happened, she said, "but I didn't get my Cinderella doll!" That conversation was slightly uncomfortable, but it was okay. The next one was worse.

Raina returned to daycare after winter break, and her teachers made the day's journaling assignment "What did Santa bring me for Christmas?" Well, Santa did not bring her anything, and that's what she said for her journal. Her fellow classmates were shocked and some even said, "Raina, were you bad?!" At this point, Raina got a little upset -- she prides herself on being good and she was a little distraught that Santa may have thought her bad -- and the teachers immediately changed the subject.

The conversation with Raina that night was more difficult. How do you explain to a kid the real reasons behind the no-Santa and no-extravagant gifts policy of the house? It didn't matter that she had received a number of presents that week; none of them had come from Santa and that was her concern. So we told her that we don't have a chimney so Santa doesn't come to our house. That appeased her for this year; we'll have to be more thoughtful in advance for next year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving Stories

Raina switched daycares and almost immediately started singing a strange song about a turkey every night when she was at home. Her parents finally figured it out when we all went to see Raina's "Feast of Friendship" performance on Wednesday. Raina had created a little Native American constume (as had her classmates) and she, with the other 4 and 5 year olds, sang three Thanksgiving themed songs. The best was, by far, the turkey song, and Krystal and Samantha have had it stuck in their head for days.

What's funny and sad about this is that the kids and teachers worked on the song for over a month, but it has a total of four lines. Here they are:

Turkey is a funny bird; it's head goes wobble, wobble.
All it says is just one word: "gobble, gobble, gobble!"

This was her very first school performance, and it was precious.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

what makes Raina happy.

Krystal asked Raina today "what makes you happy?" Raina thought for a moment and responded with "Coloring makes me happy . . . My family makes me happy . . . Cuddling with you makes me happy" Krystal then followed up with the question "do you like making people happy?" She replied that "that makes me happy too" followed by a huge smile.

Also today Raina played on the piano and made up songs titled "I love my daughter" and "you are my sweetheart". These titles were entirely chosen by Raina.

Raina went on a trip to the mall with her mom today. On the way, Raina entertained herself by spelling things without any prompting. Where she learned to spell the words mom, dad, rain, and cat, we don't know, and she wouldn't tell us when prompted.

Monday, November 3, 2008


A few weeks ago, Raina came home and said "Mommy, I want to be a pink snake for Halloween!" We were surprised by this declaration, but figured that she'd forget and we'd be able to do something easy, like make her a princess or something. No luck. Raina remained adamant about being a pink snake, so the Whompton adults struggled to piece together her costume. It was not easy. She had pink overalls, and plenty of pink shirts, but that wasn't going to sell anyone on her being an animal -- especially a non-pig animal. We found her a fleece hat and mitten set and added those to the ensemble, and discovered a sparkly pink cat tail. In the end, she looked nothing like a snake, so we prepped her to HISS! at everything and to explain what her costume was when people asked. And ask they did!

Raina had a Halloween party at school, which she enjoyed immensely, and she was overjoyed to go out and trick-or-treat again that night. She was literally jumping with excitement and we adults did not move fast enough for her.

We trick-or-treated up and down Sparrowwood, which was about 10 houses, and then hit a magnificently decorated house a few streets over. (Since our neighborhood has older residents, very few kids go door-to-door anymore. Raina cleaned up on the candy front even though she only went to 10 places.) She refused to knock on the doors, but she was pretty good about saying trick-or-treat and thank you. She was very cute and gracious.

One of the neighbors peered at Raina's costume a lot -- had Raina spin around to show off the full ensemble. And then he proclaimed "I think we have a snake here!" And the daughter said, "Yes, Dad, a pink snake!!!" Eric and I were floored, Raina beamed, and we immediately demanded how they knew. They leaned over and whispered, "your sister told us," which caused much raucous laughter by all.

Raina came home after and counted up her loot: four spider rings, seven gummy things, four straight sugar things, two honey-suckers (lollipops in normal speak), and thirty-eight pieces of chocolate. She's slowly going through her sugar bounty. At her present rate, she'll still be eating on them at winter break time.

The next day saw the Whompton adults hitting all the local stores in a desparate search for half-priced candy. We bought a lot, plus half-priced Halloween decorations and a tiger mask and pumpkin container for Raina. She asks daily if she can go trick-or-treating again, this time in her tiger costume. She doesn't like hearing that she has to wait a whole year before she can do it again. This was the first year that Raina really understood what was happening, and she wants to keep it going!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New School, New Life

Raina began her Strictly Pediatrics experience two weeks ago and she has loved every minute of it. She has dived back into art projects -- her coloring and drawing are quite improved -- and she has her own art box at school and home. She wants to marker things up all the time! She also spends a lot more time learning new things, which is making her the happiest, I think. The very first day, she practiced writing the letter I. She was so proud of her work and she recited to herself before bed "down, cross, cross" over and over again. What impressed the adults the most is that Raina wrote her name for the very first time the same day. Insanely thrilled is what we were.

Last Friday, Raina wrote / illustrated a story. The illustrations took multiple pages and the story was all verbal, about a horse named Raina who was thirsty and had babies and met a man and knocked on doors. (Admittedly, the story didn't make much plot sense, but she recited the story at least four times without flaw, so it was definitely the story she intended to tell.) We have her book proudly displayed with other books in the living room, and she occasionally pulls it out to read to us.

The Whompton adults are impressed by how nice and intelligent her teachers are. (I feel insulting and holier than thou to say this, but not all early childhood teachers fit these criteria.) Ms. Stevie and Ms. Stacy rock. They've been teaching together for 15+ years and they have a firm control on the classroom -- where they want to go and how to get there. In no instance have we seen out-of-control kids or teachers being reactionary; the teachers have definite expectations and the kids meet them. And, of course, Raina is a model citizen because she always has done what teachers tell her to do. (As Raina says, "you're the teacher, you're the boss!") We just asked her if she'd been in time-out at her new school. Her response: "NO! I would be very disappointed in that." Also, Raina desperately wants to stay in the 4 years-old room, and I think she may be scared that she'll be found out and sent back to the 3's.

We're so thankful that her transition has been smooth and joyous for her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Day of Celebration

The Whomptons greatly anticipated the joy of Monday, October 20th. Krystal's school comments were due at 8 a.m. that day, which meant she would return back to a sane human being. Raina would begin her tenure at the new daycare, and Krystal and Eric would discover the gender of kid two. And to celebrate the day of celebration, we planned a luscious dinner at our favorite restaurant. So, how did it go?

Krystal finished her comments well in advance, and spent the entire weekend before slacking off and doing nothing of consequence. Lovely.

Raina rejoiced about the new daycare. In fact, she recounted stories of her day for a full 15 minutes of straight talking -- no prompting necessary, as there was never a lull -- and she seemed so ecstatically happy that her mom started getting weepy in the car. Fantastic!

And the Whomptons discovered the baby's gender: a girl. Or, as Raina responded, "What in the world?! FOUR GIRLS!!!" and then just beamed when she realized that she would have a baby sister in the house.

Dinner was superb as always, and we have leftover carrot cake for tomorrow! Woohoo!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beach photos

Raina practiced her states a lot before the trip, and always wanted to know the path that we would take. Here, Raina and Samantha race to see who can complete her map the quickest. Raina beat us handily for a while, and then was emotionally devastated when an adult finally beat her.To get to South Carolina required much time in the car: two days worth of driving. Raina became quite attached to her cows and carseat.

The first stop on our trip was in Louisville for lunch. (The Whomptons wisely planned out our meal stops to involve great places to eat.) This is Lynn's Paradise Cafe, an intensely visually stimulating place.

And then we finally made it to the beach house. We were insanely thrilled to be out of the car.

Raina introduces her cows to her queen sized bed.
We have countless food pictures of Raina. Here's dinner the first night there and a great watermelon shot. Raina consumed copious quantities of watermelon: the Whomptons alone ate 3/4 of a melon in one sitting!
Jerry taught Raina how to set up the chess board.

Raina also painted-by-number for over 50 pages that trip.
We threw Emily and Jerry a baby shower. We're all acting pregnant!
And now we're all acting like babies. But, trust me, baby food tastes just as bad as our expressions indicate!
After a full week of beach, Raina was just exhausted. She spent a lot of time cuddling with her cows the last few days. Then the Whomptons headed home!

Summer Photos

We upgraded our digital camera's memory card and now we hardly ever have to move pictures off of the camera. As a result, we go months without uploading pictures to the blog. Sorry! We'll try to rectify here. Eric and Raina are cuddling and showing off semi-matching hats.
Raina at the big kids playground -- she loves to swing, and is getting better at doing it herself. She obviously prefers being pushed by an adult though!
When Raina was much younger and teething, she constantly sucked on her lower lip. She gave herself a rash from all the concentrated saliva! This summer, Raina reverted back to this, and, although she makes cute faces when she does it, the rash was returning. We finally convinced her to quit.
She looks incredibly like Hannah in this picture. So precious.
Raina and Eric proudly display their Kung Fu Panda tickets. I think Raina loved her ticket much more than the movie experience itself.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Imaginative play

Do you remember when you were a kid and you could go off into an imaginary world and play endlessly? After dabbling in the past, Raina has gone down the rabbit hole and plays constantly. Pretty much anytime she is home you can find her somewhere in the house chattering to herself a dialogue between multiple characters. All in all this is a positive change as Raina traditionally has a tendency to get bored without some kind of parent sponsored entertainment stimulus plan. So while it is fantastic that Raina's happiness and activity is self sustaining, its gotten to the point that she often rejects playing with her parents in the traditional ways - (reading books, playing board games, chase and such). For the most part my attempts to participate in her fantasy world have failed as I usually get rather non-sensical explanations for her world. Example - she is playing in the bath tub right now and was addressing Mr. Soap. I inquired what Mr. Soap was doing, with the reply of "playing with spoonynot". Then she said something about making lunch, proceeded by speaking gibberish. Hopefully I can join in the fun at some point.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Changing schools

Raina has grown up at the Westport School, since she was 6 weeks old. Her teachers have been great; we loved her infant teacher Melissa and we could rave for days about her toddler and two year old teacher, Ms. Jenn. Ms. Jenn’s classroom was incredibly dynamic, and Raina eagerly shared her daily exploits with the adults in her life, whether that was her artwork or learning her letters or her potty stickers or just verbal stories about her day. Raina loved every moment with Ms. Jenn, and we are tremendously grateful that Raina spent so much time in her classroom. Raina was very excited to move into the Bear room (the three year old room), because she was developmentally ready to move on, but she sincerely missed the daily interaction with Ms. Jenn those first few weeks.

It wasn’t long into the Bear room, however, that Raina’s reaction to daycare changed. She stopped telling stories about her day; in fact, when asked, her response was “I don’t want to talk about my day. What happened in your day?” When pressed about any specific nature of her Bear room experience, she said “I don’t know” and then looked at her feet. Very quickly, we adults realized that Raina was not enjoying her Bear room experience and we asked her why. She told us she was bored and wished she were in the pre-k room. We petitioned for Raina to move into the pre-k room, but were declined because she wasn't old enough. Fortunately / Unfortunately for Raina, she's pretty bright for her age and staying in her current classroom where she already knows everything that's being taught is draining her spirit.

We have spent the last month looking at different pre-schools and daycare centers in the area, and have selected one that we believe will challenge her more and therefore prepare her more for starting school next year. They wholeheartedly agreed that she should be in the four year-old room; she'll start there in 1.5 weeks, and she's counting down the days. It's incredibly sad to leave Westport after being with them for so long, but Raina is SO EXCITED about her new school. After putting all our eggs into another basket, I hope that it's worth it for her.

Raina writes her first letter!

Stephanie has moved to a middle-of-nowhere location in Alabama, and she regularly communicate by snail mail only. So Eric and Raina sat down to write her a letter (Raina dictated, Eric scribed). The stream of consciousness of a three years-old is something to behold!

Raina art

Raina drew us a set of lollipops. It was so strikingly similar to actual lollipops that I had to share. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Princess books

Almost everything Raina calls her own is something someone else previously called his/her own. Yes, her parents are second-hand junkies and we LOVE all the free clothes and toys and whatnot that Raina receives from loving friends and family members. Last xmas was especially great; we asked her cousins to clean out their closets and give away what they didn't want anymore. Raina received a TON of toys and puzzles and books, which we have periodically pored through as the months have progressed. Raina's favorite of all of these is the Disney Princess Books collection, a series of books where the protagonist (a Disney princess) is stuck in a tricky situation and then ponders "what would a princess do?" before coming to a perfectly reasonable and character-building solution. Raina adores these books, and every sane adult despises them. In fact, Raina frequently will ask for us to read her book, the adult will say yes, and then cringe when Watch Out, Ariel!: A Story about Paying Attention or Just in Time: A Story about Patience or the like is plopped on the couch. They are excruciatingly awful, and I don't understand WHY in the world our daughter prefers these stories over ones with, say, interesting dialogue or pictures or a decent plot line.

I began to wonder whether it was just the identification with the princess she liked ... whether Raina loves these books because they have female characters. So, when at Goodwill, I purchased the Little House series (for a whopping $7) in the hope that these stories will catch on too. If so, Raina has some Anne of Green Gables and Ramona in her future!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Belly vignettes

Raina and I were making dinner three weeks ago and, on her step stool, Raina had a very good profile show of my mid-section. Her remark: "Wow, Mommy, you have a big belly!" I really didn't know how to respond to that, so I didn't say anything but look at her questioningly. Then she patted her belly and said "Mine's big too! Let's eat more food and get bigger, Mommy!" That plan sounds rather inevitable for me =)

This morning, Raina commented on my belly's size again. When I reminded her it was because a baby was in there, she responded in an incredibly endearing way. "My baby sister is in your uterus!" And then she gave my belly a hug and a kiss and said "I miss you baby."

I got all teary and emotional, and I swear it wasn't just pregnancy hormones. Raina was amazingly sweet.

Big Sister Announcement

Yes, it's official, Raina will be a big sister in March. We were fearful of sharing this information with her -- we painfully remembered the daily barrage of "beach today?" questions -- but we also worried that a well-meaning non-Whompton adult would spill the beans first. We finally sat her down last week with the news.

We put her on the couch with Sam and me, and she immediately knew something was up because Eric brought out the camera. We told her we had a big surprise, which she could know about now but wouldn't get to have until much later, and then we told her she'd be a big sister of a little baby brother or sister. She immediately picked sister. (We'll see, right??)

She wasn't overly excited or anything; Eric was actually disappointed by her response and kept trying to egg her on so something was video-worthy. In the end, we gave her a picture of the little one in utero, and she placed it in a prominent spot on the refridgerator. Now, she mostly likes saying "you have a baby in your uterus" which is really funny because uterus just doesn't come out correctly with a 3 year old pronunciation. We'll see if she gets more engaged as time gets closer.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Show and Tell & a Nicholas Story

Each Friday is "Show and Tell" day at daycare. Raina hasn't been at daycare for many Fridays this year, so we often forget to prep her. Last night, though, we remembered, so Raina selected her show and tell item and then we practiced show and tell. Everyone sat in a circle, introduced themselves, and showed what great items they brought. The Whompton show and tell included a book, balloon, wooden car, car with moveable parts, calculator, ball, pompom, stethoscope (which Raina described as a telescope and then promptly whapped Krystal in the head with), and, Raina's ultimate choice, a zip-up cuddly bee hive with a little bee inside. What was really cute is that Raina would stand up for her turn and say "Hi, I'm Raina and this is my show and tell." It was adorable.

I put her to bed last night as well. Normally, Raina asks for a Nicholas story and two things, but I've changed this to a Nicholas story and ONE thing. If she wants two, then she has to say something herself. Normally, her thing is describing her cows (how mommy cow is funny, or how baby cow snores). Last night was huge in this realm: Raina told her very own Nicholas story as her "one thing." The plot: Nicholas was playing show and tell with us, but then his toy broke, so we helped him fix it, and then everyone was happy and hugged. Her story was great, and I was and am so proud of her! I cannot wait to see if she continues to make up Nicholas stories to share.


Krystal had Parents Night last Thursday, so she missed Obama's acceptance speech. Luckily, everything (except for Michael Phelps' Olympic races) is on youtube, so I pulled up the speech on my computer to listen. Raina, from the other side of the room and without seeing the computer, calls out, "Mommy, that's Barack Obama! Where's John McCain?" Branding has clearly impacted our child.

Sam is now trying to teach Raina to chant for Obama, but I don't think Raina's going for it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Calling Roxanne on the Phone

On the drive back from South Carolina, Raina panicked that she hadn't seen Roxanne in a whole week, so she called her on the cell to talk. Here's a section of the phone conversation.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I’m three, I get to go to the beach!

Ever since February, Raina has been asking to go to the beach. We put her off by saying she could go when she was three, and then felt immensely stupid when she turned three and demanded to go to the beach. We took her to Chicago instead. It has a beach, right?!

But Raina knew another beach trip was in the works, because it was all the Whomptons talked about for two weeks: planning for the beach, making lists for the beach, taking off vacation time for the beach, packing for the beach, shopping for the beach. She really knew it was happening when we took her to Sports Authority and she got her very own life jacket. Boy, was she excited! She wouldn’t even take it off for us to buy it – we had to put her up on the scanner – and then she almost cried when we took it off to strap her in her carseat.

Yes, the Whomptons were going to the beach! But South Carolina is nowhere close to Missouri, as Raina well knows. She spent a lot of time in that last week looking at her USA map puzzle and tracing the path we would take to get there. Trust me, it felt a lot longer in the car. We got up really early on Friday, jumped in the car, and headed off. We stopped off in Louisville for a fantastic lunch at Lynn’s Paradise CafĂ©, dropped off Roxanne in Danville, headed on to Knoxville, got sidetracked by a detour and so missed our tasty dinner plans, instead had a meal at a horrifying KFC – Taco Bell establishment, and then finally reached Asheville, NC. Day 1 was complete.

The next day we ate a huge IHOP breakfast, stopped at Yesterdays in Columbia, and then plodded along in the Myrtle Beach traffic to reach Litchfield. Although our day began at 4:30 a.m. and ended at 9:00 p.m. Friday, it felt like a much shorter day than Saturday. At this point, Raina was losing hope. After finally arriving to the rental agency and then the beach house and unloading the car, we still weren’t done. We had to get groceries and stock up the house. This was Raina’s mental and emotional undoing. She refused to get in the car and, once there, refused to leave the car. We forcibly removed her, grumpily shopped, and then went back home. We ate dinner and then happily walked over to the beach.

Raina knew that she’d see the ocean and sand, but her gasp of shock in her first view was truly memorable. She raced closer and then immediately wanted to play in the sand. Admittedly, we were too tired to do anything at the beach besides pay homage, which is exactly what we did. We returned back to the beach house to discover Papa Bill, Mama Jo, Emily and Jerry.

Over the next few days, Raina learned how to do chess set-up with Jerry, she painted an ungodly number of “paint with waters,” she ate approximately 1/3 of a watermelon and a ton of nachos, she played and played in the sand, occasionally got in the water, helped with Emily and Jerry’s baby shower, collected shells, rejoiced in family, talked about and patted her baby cousin, read the same three books over and over again, acquired 61 freckles, and overall had a good time. I think Raina started to be bored with the beach around Thursday – she actively destroyed our incarnation of Mordor – and declined going back Thursday afternoon. I think Thursday afternoon also saw her only tantrum of the week. Friday was much better; we dug a huge hole to China, and spent a lot of time riding waves and being sharks in the water.

Saturday saw us on the road again. This time, we took Compton directions back to Columbia, ate at a lackluster Wendy’s, chuckled mightily when passing the Comptons on the highway, caravanned with them to Knoxville, and then parted ways. We made it to Danville, patronized a local Mexican restaurant, and then spent the evening chatting with Joan and Tony Haigh, who are, quite possibly, the nicest persons in the world. Raina impressed them by doing chess set-up and going to bed when told. She’s a good kid.

The next day, the Haighs stuffed us with food and introduced us to 63 degree weather. Oh, it was glorious. We picked up Roxanne, separated from Sam, and headed home. We finally broke out a movie for Raina to watch – yes, she had occupied herself for 32 hours in the car without complaining – and finished in time for a tasty BBQ lunch in Mount Vernon. The rest of the trip home was smooth and easy.

Of course, we had to turn around and immediately go to the grocery store on Sunday, but that’s okay. Raina is a champ and she proved, over and over again on this trip, how much she can take in stride. She routinely asked to hear “the states,” which was a list of all the states through which we travelled to get to / from the beach. At one point we asked her if she liked being in the car. She replied no, but then elaborated that she knew she would get to the beach at the end. She just had to wait. What a mature thought process for a three year old!

Broadway Baby

Through pure random luck, and possibly through slightly dishonest means, I won Raina a free 2-weeks summer camp at COCA, the Center for Creative Arts. I have tremendously high respect for COCA – it trains all the best dancers in the Saint Louis area – and I was thrilled when Raina would be able to be a “Broadway Baby” for free. (Paying $250 for the opportunity was not as thrilling.)

Those two weeks were very busy. We’d get up and go to the Y, rush home and shower, eat lunch at 10:30 a.m., and then get back on the road. COCA is located in University City, Eric and my old stomping ground, but is nowhere close to our current home. After spending 30 or so minutes in the car, we’d descend upon COCA and leave Raina to an afternoon of art, singing, and dancing. (I spent the 3 hours each day wandering around various libraries during that time.)

All in all, Raina didn’t enjoy COCA very much. When asked, she said she’d rather 1) go to the Little Gym, 2) go to daycare, or 3) stay home with mommy. However, she did prefer COCA over the Y nursery, so there you go.

Her two weeks camp culminated in a show, where all the 3, 4, and 5 year-olds showed off all they learned in a ridiculously cute performance. Raina was so proud of her hand-made show invitation, and was saddened when I told her we couldn’t go. We planned to be in Knoxville, TN, by the time of the performance, so I snuck in to watch Raina on Thursday afternoon instead. It was hilarious.

The other kids were adorable. They really got into the dance routines, they sang the songs, the whole bit. Raina did mostly nothing that involved big body movements. No spinning, or jumping, or anything of that nature. She actually stood still for an entire song while all the other kids “penguin attacked” each other. One song involved a lot of cheesy smiling and she would do that, but not much more. The final song was “A Hard Knock Life” from Annie, which essentially involved the kids running around and dancing however they wanted. Raina decided to walk around the edges of the mirror, roll on the floor, and talk with her teacher.

All in all, I laughed a lot, and learned a lot about my kid. I think Raina really showed her age in comparison to the other kids. And I may have to put my little ballerina / modern dancer dreams on hold for a bit, at least until she’s willing to perform in public :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cognitive Development

Raina defers continuously to adults in charge. At least twice a day she says, “You’re the teacher. You’re the boss.” This phrase actually started as “You’re not the teacher; you’re not the boss” but she quickly capitulated when I said that I was a teacher. Ms. Katie teaches swimming and Ms. Kelly teaches gymnastics and Mommy teaches numbers and counting. And to occupy Raina’s brain in the car, I decided to start pointing out all the numbers on signs and have Raina read them. We’re in the slowly developing stage. She’ll see 35 and say “three five …. thirty-five” but she gets very stumped by numbers ending in zero (like 60). She delights in hearing three or four-digits numbers read correctly, and is absolutely thrilled with herself if she can list off all the digits before we zoom on past them.

Also, Raina has a very firm grasp of left and right (as she learned to make a capital L with her left hand) and so she will frequently shout out “two five, twenty-five, on the RIGHT!!!” She just beams after every single one.

Raina is an incredibly focused kid and, if her mind is sufficiently occupied, she will work on the task for long periods of time until she gets it right. Fortunately / Unfortunately for Raina, this means she’s smart for her age, which directly leads to boredom a lot of the time. Raina is ridiculously bored going to the YMCA nursery this summer. The nursery is filled with kids aged 6 weeks to just before kindergarten, and toys recommended for that age group. It doesn’t matter. Raina is bored silly, and will often wait at the front window for me to return and pick her up so she can get out of there. In fact, one nursery worker commented to me “Raina is very smart, and she’s bored in the nursery. At least she’ll be moving up to the Hub soon.” The Hub is where the older kids go, five and up. When I corrected the worker, Raina had just turned three and she had TWO MORE YEARS of the nursery, the worker just shook her head and apologized. Poor Raina.

Luckily for her, she only has two more weeks of nursery to go this summer. And she’s going to summer camp in the afternoons, which I hope will keep her happy. But there’s no question for next year. When she turns four, we have to enroll her in school – she’d go crazy in another year of daycare – and she has to go to summer camp instead of the YMCA nursery. I think it’s the only way the two of us will stay sane next summer!

Raina knows her letters and at some point we realized we could be doing phonix work with her. She sounds out the letters, saying “buh, buh, B!”, and then lists off a bunch of B words (blue, berry, Braidon). She’s really good at it, and has become addicted to “Big Bird Gets a Letter,” an online Sesame Street game, in which six objects and a letter are shown. The task is to identify the three objects that begin with the letter’s sound. She’s rather solid on the consonants, but occasionally gets tripped up by vowels. Vowels having two sounds is a little much for her active working memory to process; she struggles to identify the picture, figure out its start sound, identify the letter, and match it to the displayed letter’s start sound, when the letter has two possible sounds. I admit, I mostly hate the letter C for this very reason. I haven’t figured out a logical explanation of why C decided to have two sounds, both of which were already represented by other letters. She’s getting better with the vowels, and when she’s hanging out by herself you can hear her chant “ih, ih, I!” or “eh, eh, E!” as she tries to get it straight.

She still hasn’t mastered pronouncing all the sounds in words, though. She says “th” as “f,” which makes her age “free.” And she just ignores the “L” sound in all words, although she can say “L” just fine. She’ll figure it out eventually :)

Raina’s legs are long enough to reach her Big Wheel pedals easily, and she is quite speedy on her bike. We will bike up to the Ross Playground, which is mostly uphill and requires some additional help from her parents, but on the flat or slightly downhill slopes, Raina is a speed demon. We actually have to jog to keep up with her. The funniest part, though, is watching her park the Big Wheel at the bike rakes. She careens directly at the metal poles, her parents gasp desperately and reach to catch her (always missing), and she stops just perfectly and jumps right out. She does this to me every time and I still panic and then shake my head in relief. I thought biking would really wear her out, but it doesn’t, so when the temperature drops, we might go on family walks/bikes at Creve Coeur Lake. The terrain is very flat, the path is wide enough, and it’s a much longer route. We’re going to build up her muscles one way or another!

Raina goes to the movies

Eric’s work comrades invited the family to see Kung Fu Panda on Sunday. The female adults respectfully declined, but Raina jumped at the opportunity to go. When she came back she had plenty of stories to tell:
- She was so impressed that she got a ticket, and she handed it to someone, that he ripped it easily, and then gave her a piece back. She cautioned me a lot: “Don’t rip the ticket anymore, Mommy!”

- The ticket had letters AND numbers on it. This was mind-boggling to Raina, who is slowly recognizing letters and numbers everywhere she goes.

- She got her own seat. And she sat in Daddy’s lap. And she pushed her seat up and down. And then she sat in her own seat again.

- The cow didn’t go into the movie theatre because she didn’t have a ticket.

- In response to the movie, she said, “The Good Guys hit the Bad Guys.” Now, I admit, I was worried that the film would be too violent for Raina. Earlier this summer she watched a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode with us and Raina was very confused. Buffy kept hitting people but nobody told her she was wrong and nobody put her in time-out. So I asked Raina if the good guys LIKED hitting the bad guys. Her response: “The good guys hit the bad guys, but they didn’t want to.” Good enough, I guess.

Overall, the majority of her stories were about her ticket. And since it cost $5.75, it was worth many stories!

Our big girl grows up some more.

Over the weekend, Grandma and Papaw came to visit and deliver items for Samantha and Krystal. Of course, all Raina cared about was seeing her grandparents again. She woke up from a nap when they arrived, and was mostly confused by all the frantic action. (They were delivering a bed, and it was raining outside.) So she retreated to the downstairs, pulled out her family dolls, and had the entire family – grandparents included – take a ride on the mommy cow.

As a result of the bed delivery, the Whomptons suddenly had a twin bed available again. We previously had discussed upgrading Raina’s bed to something larger, and we decided this might be the most opportune moment. Raina was very excited about the new bed, and was even more excited to learn she could pick out her own sheets and blankets for her very big girl bed.

We hauled off to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Target and walked up and down the aisles until something struck Raina’s fancy. She gravitated towards pink – not exclusively, though, as she also picked out gold, blue striped, and chestnut sets. What amazed us most is that she walked down the temptation aisle, rife with Disney Princess and Dora the Explorer and other “sell your soul” type of options, and she never even paused. No interest from her there. In the end, she selected a set of pink striped sheets and a very cuddly bright pink blanket. She hugged the blanket during the rest of the Target venture and the entire ride home.

We set up the bed and she had no difficulty going right to sleep. And when she’s awake, she tucks Nicholas under the blanket, head on the pillow, so he can have a comfortable place to sleep as well.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Raina hates bugs -- especially the stomach ones!

Raina is immensely bothered by bugs. In fact, the other day we were cooking fresh broccoli and a worm that the prep cook clearly missed was trying to escape from the boiling steam bath. It climbed to the top and wriggled frantically. It was very visible, and so was Raina's reaction to it: she fled to the other side of the room and huddled. And we called our Independence Day picnic short because of the occasional flying insect. All bugs are bad, in Raina's mind. Now she has another one to add to the list.

Raina was her usually perky self yesterday. She played happily for hours, rejoiced when we ate at a restaurant (even though she chose to take her own food), and then played Sesame Street games until bed. It wasn't until Eric was putting her to bed that Raina confessed her belly hurt. She had a rather bad case of diarrhea, so Eric sent her downstairs for another cuddle hug from Mommy and I sent her back upstairs to continue the bedtime routine.

Approximately 45 seconds later, we heard the panicked cry for help coming from Eric. Sam and I dashed upstairs to see a fair amount of vomit on Raina's bed, her cows, and her bedroom floor. Clearly she laid down on her cows, just like always, but then she got sick all over the place. And although she felt miserable and was really uncomfortable, she was perfectly calm and obedient. She did everything we asked of her, willingly got in the tub for a bath, and stayed put when we tried to clean everything up. She didn't even look sad when I told her she couldn't sleep with the cows because they had to take a bath too.

I had felt pretty badly earlier that day and had spent some time huddled next to the toilet, so we reinforced the message for Raina: if you feel yucky again, call for us and then head straight to the bathroom! So Raina got a surprise bath, and then cuddled some more, and then she willingly tried round two of bedtime.

It didn't last long. Apparently she got up and came looking for us, then got sick, then turned around to find the bathroom, and got sick some more. The poor kid. This cycle continued for a long time, about 3 hours. Multiple times a parent was holding her, recognized the symptoms, and then dashed off to the bathroom again. It was physically and emotional painful for us to watch Raina be so miserable but stoic at the same time. We kept repeating "I'm so sorry that your belly hurts, Raina!" and she'd respond "I know that, Mommy," like she was trying to console and reassure me.

Eventually, around 10 p.m. or so, Raina decided that she wanted to lie down, as opposed to cuddling in the cuddle chair. I drew first watch and I sat with her for about an hour before I trusted she was sleeping and not going to be sick anymore.

We've had no complications whatsoever today. I pulled out all the stops just in case, but they haven't been necessary. In fact, she requested "three blue boxes of cereal" for breakfast and she was overwhelmingly ecstatic at swim class today. All in all, a reasonably fast recovery. Now let's hope that the other Whomptons stay bug free!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Raina likes to exercise!

Raina really enjoys jumping and rolling and crawling and all sorts of activity. After a whole afternoon of Raina doing rolls and jumps on the yoga mat, we realized that she should take a gymnastics class, so we enrolled her in a local school. She loves it, although, she fully admits, "it makes me really tired, Mommy." In fact, after her last class, she got in the car and said "Time for Quiet Time, Mommy," and then she walked quickly to her bed and crashed for the next three hours.

Also, Raina has finally developed the leg length to bike her Big Wheel with ease. She can bike to the Ross Playground, play there, and then bike home. She's really slow going up the hills -- and often needs a helpful shove from a parent to get some momentum -- but she speeds down the hills. We actually have to jog to keep up with her. But, again, she gets home and sleeps for ages. Her little three year-old body can only take so much without collapsing.

Best Friends

Raina has a book, Laura's Star, which is about a little girl who wished she had a friend. She catches a little star, rejoices, and then realizes that the star is dying because it's not in the sky. She then releases her star back up to the sky, knowing that her best friend is out there somewhere.

It's a sad story. I mean, the words "cold and empty" are used, and Raina uses them too now and she understands what they mean. So today at breakfast, we talked about best friends and how you can feel happy knowing that you have a best friend even if you don't see him or her all the time. How she can be excited to go home and see her cows, but that it's okay to be excited about doing other things without her cows. She nodded and then said, "I have other best friends!" Her parents, wondering which daycare kid she was going to mention, asked to know of whom she was speaking.

Raina said: "My cousins! And I'm getting a new cousin! A boy cousin!" And then she happily resumed eating her breakfast.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Gavin returns!

Raina's first friend ever was Gavin. They started at Westport School at roughly the same time (12 weeks) and they were together in the same classroom for multiple years. They were both very sweet natured kids and they got along well together. And then Gavin's mom decided to stay home and raise him full-time, and that pretty much eliminated Gavin from Raina's life. We occasionally saw Pam and Gavin at the YMCA, but nothing regular, and we only heard through the grapevine that another little MacDonald was on the way.

Two weeks ago, we ran into Pam and Gavin at the pool, and discovered that the baby had just been born. To give Pam a break, Raina and I hosted Gavin on Friday. Sadly, they didn't seem to remember each other at all, but they had a great time anyway. The pair had very interesting parallel conversations (about swimming, swimsuits, siblings, snacks, being silly, and animal sounds), built a great train track, fought off monsters in the dollhouse, danced to Finding Nemo music, ate a huge lunch, and played CandyLand, the peacock game, and Gulo, Gulo. It was lots of fun to watch the two of them together.

What I learned most is that Gavin is a better friend than Raina is. While Raina was willing to share all her toys, she didn't want to always play with them. Gavin was much more willing to be considerate of what Raina wanted to do than the other way around. Additionally, Raina's bossy side emerged on occasion, which caused Gavin to look at me with a "why is she like this?" expression on his face. At one point, Gavin was working on the train track solo because Raina had abdicated all responsibility for it. She was just rolling on the floor, chatting to her stuffed cat. Gavin then said to both of us, "I wish Raina would stop talking to her cat and come talk to me." It was the most articulate expression of emotion I have ever heard from a three year-old.

Hanging out with Gavin for four hours straight caused Raina to CRASH afterwards. She slept three straight hours, and we had to yank her out of bed for dinner. Overall, a great experience :)

Whining and Tantrums

Ages ago, about four weeks to be exact, Raina was in daycare full time, and her parents and auntie really only interacted with her during the happy early mornings and the glorious few hours in the evenings. Weekends were jam-packed with activities: going to the Y, the farmers' market, three grocery stores, the big kids' playground, and whatever else we thought up.

Then Krystal went on summer break and Raina and Mommy started spending ALL their time together. It has been slightly rocky. Mornings are fine: we go to the Y nursery, the library, swimming, and then have lunch. It's all the post-lunch time that drives me insane, because that's when Raina should be napping. Instead, though, she prefers to throw tantrums over small things (like not having enough water in her cup), and this results in lots of screaming and crying. I don't stomach it well and I don't like my daughter being reduced to such a state. Unfortunately for all of us, I refuse to give in to these tactics, so we're all rather miserable for a while. After screaming and crying for about 10 minutes, Raina gives up and moves on to a new thing, usually something happy. But on those days where Raina screams for over an hour straight, I'm happyto relinquish all authority and responsibility to Eric and I say "she's your child for the rest of the night."

Raina goes to daycare each Thursday, and we never have issues on Thursday night. But, oh, on Wednesdays ....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Raina's Sibling(s)

A few weeks back, Raina turned to me and said, "Mommy, you have a brother and sister? Sammy has a brother and sister? Daddy has sisters? Where is my brother and sister?" And then she looked at me expectantly with the hope of a real answer. I told her that she was right, we all had brothers or sisters, and that we were really lucky to have siblings. And the reason she didn't have a little brother or sister is because Daddy and Mommy hadn't made one yet. That led to a whole other set of questions and a conversation about how babies grow. In the end, she summed up by saying "I want a brother or sister."

Yes, well, it's nice to voice an opinion, but it really isn't up to her. Or so I thought. Raina figured that if Mommy and Daddy could make a younger sibling, then she could make one too. She now has imaginary brothers and sisters -- she even calls them by name, there are 11 of them -- and they do all sorts of crazy adventures. She frequently will tell a story and then say, "... my sister did that. She's silly!" or "My brother is so funny!"

What's most amusing about this is that she refers to her brother and sister in mixed company, and those adults look rather confused by her comments. As yet, we haven't explained the situation, because, well, it's funny. And I don't have the heart to tell Raina that her brother and sister are pretend. They seem real enough to her. I just never imagined that she would pick siblings to be her imaginary friends.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nicholas stories

As part of the night-time routine, Raina asks for "two things and one story." Two things means "please tell me two things about myself that make you (the parent) happy." Raina just glows when she is complimented, and I enjoy thinking of the two things I will share with Raina each night. Eric enjoys the one story more. It used to be that Raina wanted an adaptation of the Goldilocks story, but now she wants one thing only: a Nicholas story. You see, Nicholas is this four foot stuffed cat who sleeps on the cot next to Raina's bed. And while Raina and Nicholas are separated, Nicholas stars in his own adventures. He goes to the big kids' playground, shops at the grocery store, makes a train set, works puzzles, plays the piano, checks on Roxanne, cuddles with the cows, worries about storms and bugs, and a whole assortment of other things each day. And, of course, at nighttime Raina wants to know what Nicholas did during his day too. Almost without fail, Nicholas did the same thing that Raina did that day because he was sad that he was left at home. Sometimes he has to pretend that he's doing something (like making his own big kids' playground in the living room) but he always has a good time. And he always rejoices when Raina comes to bed and they can be together again.

Eric is much more creative with the Nicholas stories and, when he has composed a really good one, he shares it with the adults too. It's good to know what goes on in your house when you're not paying attention.

Father's Day

Raina celebrated Father's Day with Eric by 1) going to the big kids' playground, 2) cleaning out the basement, and 3) stuffing our stomachs at Mongolian BBQ. We LOVE taking Raina to buffets because they rarely charge us for her meal and she eats a ton! Raina did an excellent job of filling her belly today. We actually were a little worried that she had filled herself to the bursting point, because she looked rather uneasy for a little bit. We took her to the bathroom and then she felt better. (Her belly did not decrease in size or tightness, however.) The best line of the day: "It's a vegetable!" as she described a fried egg roll.

This week stretched the Whompton adults to the mental breaking point. We painted the dining room and hallway, acquired a piano, and then suffered as our plumbing self-destructed. Raina was great the whole time. We jammed to They Might Be Giants (we alternated between the ABCs and 123s), Raina watched the painting and played with her Legos and puzzles, and she jumped and jumped and jumped to get rid of her energy in a non-bothersome way.

Additionally, Raina has adopted the word "Why???" as her response to each statement an adult makes. She never really listens or accepts the answer a parent gives, because she immediately turns around with another "why?" It's remarkably tedious and almost caused her mom to snap. Five days a week, nine hours a day of this type of conversation is more than anyone should have to handle.

Raina has had two swim lessons so far. The first was mostly frustrating, as she refused to separate from a parent. The second one was much more successful. She can float on her back (which we happily use now to wash her hair in the bathtub), she dive-bomb leaps into the pool and goes under the water without panicking, she can swim (with the assistance of a noodle) the entire length of the pool multiple times, she can touch the bottom of the pool in most places, and she happily spends time in the water. This is such a huge turn of events from last year, where we had to almost force her into the pool and she clutched at a parent the whole time. Now, if we're not watching, she will paddle herself across the pool and then a parent has to chase after her.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

John and Cindy's Wedding

Cardinal Nation

The only true St. Louisian among the Whomptons is Raina. The rest of us dismiss Ted Drewes, Imo's Pizza, toasted ravioli, and the Cardinals, as we believe they're overhyped. But Raina is a St. Louis native, and she has bought into Cardinal Nation. She's gone to more games than Eric, for goodness' sake! In fact, in the new stadium, Raina has seen the Cardinals play four times more than Eric. Amazing for a three years-old.

Samantha has a great habit of scoring fantastic seats, right next to 1st or 3rd base. We recently went as a whole family and had a lovely time. (We didn't hesitate to leave before the 4th inning was over, though. Like I said, we're not native.)

100_5874 Originally uploaded by krystalsnowhite

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Big Fat Catholic Wedding

We Whomptons were honored to attend John Kindschuh and Cindy Traub's wedding in Indianapolis, IN, last weekend. John and Cindy's social networks are far greater than ours, which meant the wedding was well populated with people Eric and I hadn't seen in years. This was Raina's first wedding and Eric's first Catholic wedding, and both were in for a surprise.

The wedding was in Indy, and we made the drive Saturday morning. We armed ourselves with plenty of books on CD, and we continuously exchanged out Cat in the Hat for Harold's Purple Crayon for Knuffle Bunny, etc., to keep Raina occupied. She's very good at following along with the story and, in many cases, knew when to turn the page before being prompted. Raina also told us numerous stories and read some out loud to us. We captured I Want to Eat a Child, as read by Raina Compton, on video to share.

We intended to arrive an hour or so before the wedding, with plenty of time to check into the hotel, change clothes, freshen up, etc. The timing didn't exactly pan out, and we got rather worried that we weren't going to make the wedding at all. Thankfully we arrived 15 minutes before showtime, changed our clothes in the church parking lot, and dashed inside with Nicholas. Nicholas is a 3.5 feet tall stuffed cat and is now in the honored family of cows. Nicholas did a good job of staying still and being quiet during the ceremony. Raina and Eric didn't fare so well. Raina continuously fidgeted (which was totally expected) and asked to get a drink of water numerous times. Eric and Raina even played hide and seek out in the foyer! But we all were there to witness the union of John and Cindy and to celebrate their future together.

Since we arrived barely on time, we didn't get a chance to do the pre-show schmooze. Suddenly we were swamped with all these friends in the post-wedding time, when our first desire was to ESCAPE and RUN and let Raina be FREE! Raina did not respond well when told she had to sit still and smile for the camera; we bribed her with a promise of swimming to get one picture taken. Finally we were off.

The Whompton clan had a great time swimming. Eric hadn't seen Raina's considerable comfort level in the pool and he was amazed by how happy she was to splash around and swim and jump. We convinced her to try the hot tub -- totally a present for the adults -- and then also convinced her it would be too cold to get back into the pool. Yes, we all did it when we were kids, but I'm a big wimp now and I know better! Later, Raina sat entranced with SpongeBob while the parents quickly suited up and prepared for the reception.

The reception was a great party. We knew lots of folks, many of whom we hadn't seen in a long time, and Raina claimed the dance floor. In fact, Raina started dancing during the official 1st dance, and then during the parent/child dances, and all the dances thereafter. We finally realized she wanted to dance near the spinning globe lights, and she spent a significant part of the evening trying to jump on all the colored lights on the floor. She chased them for a good hour. Then the poor kid tuckered out. Traveling, sitting still, swimming, dancing, staying up late, and no nap: it was time to go.

We crashed hard and sorta slept in the next morning. (The previous occupants of our hotel room left the alarm clock set; that was an unwelcome surprise!) We hung out with Mr. Kearney at breakfast, acquired some new trains, and then we were off for home.

The wedding was a wonderful experience and Raina got to wear a new party dress. A success all around!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Raina was thrilled when we rejoined the YMCA because she could jump back in the pool. Almost every day she asks "go swim?" and then she rejoices when we say yes. She has new swimsuits, which she loves to model, and she has warmed up and loosened up in the pool. She used to inch slowly into the water and would clutch to a parent the whole time. Now she leaps from the side into a parent's arms, she kicks her little legs while holding onto a noodle, and she splashes around with the other kids. We enrolled her in a swimming class for the summer, and I cannot wait to see her become even more comfortable in the water.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cute responses

Emily and Jerry are expecting a child in November. We told Raina, "Emily and Jerry are having a baby!" Her response: "I'm having a cousin!"

Eric sang the "Her name is Raina; she's kinda poopy" song from Raina's babyhood. Raina's response: a maniacal laugh, and a semi-convincing declaration that she wasn't poopy. And then many requests to hear the song some more :)

Eric asked Raina "Would you like to have more train pieces for your train set?" Raina's response: "All right, but I want to sing the ABC song first."

Lauren and John introduced themselves and tried to talk with Raina. Her response: "RARHHH!" which is her leap-frog monster growl. They didn't get it.

We took Raina to the dentist to watch Eric's teeth cleaning, so she could figure out the system and not freak out when we took her to the dentist for her own cleaning. Midway through, we asked her "Raina, do you want to come to the dentist?" Her response: "I'm already here!"

We asked Raina to go check on Roxanne. Her response: "Roxxxxx-ANNE! You don't have to put on the red light!" sung/shouted down the stairs.

Each time she spins her Hi-ho Cherry Oh! wheel, she raises her arms in a victory salute and celebrates. She also looks appropriately disappointed when she has to empty her bucket.

Monday, May 5, 2008


In part to celebrate both Krystal's and Raina's birthdays we went on a trip to Chicago this past weekend. Raina was very excited as she has been looking forward to this trip for months, mostly because she has been wanting to go to the beach, but that's another story entirely, let's talk about Chicago. First of all, we didn't stay in Chicago, the Kearneys were kind enough to let us stay in their house in Naperville which is about 25 miles outside of Chicago - thank you again Mr and Mrs Kearney. On Friday we chose not to brave rush hour traffic and took the train into town. Raina was very excited and enjoyed the ride while munching on animal crackers. Eric was mostly horrified to find that there was no place to put the stroller on board. After awkwardly folding it into his lap and almost knocking out the lady sitting in front of him we finally got settled and watched the Chicago suburbs zoom by through the odd greenish hue of the windows on the train. After an efficient non-stop trip to union station we were finally in downtown Chicago where most of the sites were a mere 3-4 miles' walk away . . . in the rain. We had ponchos (left over from wash u graduation - thanks again to the Kearneys) and rain jackets, but we eventually broke down and purchased a couple of umbrellas. Raina was shielded with one of the ponchos drapped over her lap, but all in all was somewhat irritated that it was raining. Fortunately we made it inside the aquarium before it REALLY started to rain. Unfortunately the aquarium only had automatic flushers. Long story short, Raina REFUSES to pee in a potty with an automatic flusher. We have always found a way around it before, but having just paid our admission and having plans to be at the aquarium for numerous hours, it was time to get her over her fears. After 30 minutes of screaming, trying multiple different bathrooms, attempts at pee by force, and most certainly freaking out whoever was in the stall in the mens bathroom that Raina tried to crawl into (as she desperately searched for a potty without an automatic flusher) we finally came to a compromise that a parent must cover the automatic flusher with their hand so that it won't flush on her. Finally our trip could begin. Raina really enjoyed exploring the aquarium and the field museum later that day. Both were excellent if not stunning at times and the whole family enjoyed it. The reef section was an additional $10 tacked onto the admission, but it was REMARKABLE! Watching 15 tanks full of salt water fish and sharks zoom around was simply awesome, in that we were simply in awe of the experience. We used the pithy phrases "Wow!" and "Oh my gosh, come look at this!" too many times to count. We actually have a number of videos of the fish in the tanks, because it was so incredible. The Field Museum is also an amazing place, and it had a great explanation of natural selection and the evolutionary process of our planet. The dinos were tres cool. The following day we went to the Zoo and the Childrens museum on Navy Pier. The zoo was incredible and the St. Louis Zoo will forever be a let down now. The gorilla house, the Polar bear exhibit, and the Lion house were truly remarkable. It did rain on us some but Raina didn't seem to mind too much as we let her hold her own umbrella! Constructing our own foam airplane and then launching it from 100 feet in the air was the highlight of the Children's museum. We managed to return to Naperville at a much more reasonable hour that night, which left us time to check out an IKEA store. As ridiculous as it sounds that this was a planned outing on our trip, its not half as ridiculous as the fact that we canceled the rest of our activities for Sunday morning so that we could go back!! The only real problem is that we had no way to bring anything of significant size back or else we probably would have required a second mortgage. But we did buy Raina one more birthday gift - a wooden train set. It is the coolest thing, its got bridges and tunnels and magnetic trains, and it has been played with constantly since its unveiling last night . . . oh and uh Raina has played with it too and seems to like it. We are already strategizing how to expand our set by importing more pieces from the IKEA in Chicago.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yay for mornings!

I'm just so excited that blogger added an easy way to upload videos! So much of Raina's effervescence is lost in still shots, and is oh-so-accurately captured in video. Anyway. Before school one day, Raina decided to drag out her alphabet pal, which plays music, and then dance and run around like a crazed lunatic. (Raina frequently runs laps around the house for fun. Each time she proclaims "I'm running!!!" It's very cute.)

So here is Raina at her early morning best.


Samantha went back to Kentucky for a weekend, and the Whomptons returned back to the original number of three. That didn't stop us from playing. We went to the big kids playground, the butterfly house, and the museum of transportation. We saw SO MANY trains and it was VERY cool! As Raina said, "this is a Raina sized train!"
Train wheels vary greatly in size. Normal freight cars have very small wheels, but engines have HUGE wheels, as seen here.
Just waiting at the train depot and then ringing the train's bell.

Spring Photos

It's been quite a while since we updated the Raina blog. Admittedly, Krystal has tried twice since then, but each time blogger deleted the post and it has not been worth our while to recreate it. Spring brings far too many other fun things to do besides sit in front of a computer!!!

Here's a visual recapping of the end of March:

Raina fell asleep on Eric -- something that rarely if ever happens anymore because 1) Raina does not nap and 2) Raina certainly doesn't nap on a parent! But we were watching Ratouille, a remarkably boring film, and it put Raina straight to sleep. This is how grumpy she looks when waking up.
Raina always supervises any cooking job in the kitchen. Just yesterday she helped wash the spinach and snap asparagus. Here she's scrubbing potatoes to make them bright and shiny.
This is how Raina looks when she desperately wants to nap but people keep telling her no.
Raina's daycare had a "spring party" (really an Easter party) with lots of eggs, balloons, and sugary snacks. Raina had her 1st, and then 2nd and 3rd, peep on that day. Thankfully she passed up the cupcakes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Raina turns three years old in 7 days -- that's right, 7 days. And she knows that, as soon as she turns 3, then it's time to go to the beach. The only problem is that our beach trip is scheduled for late July / early August, so ..... When we go to Chicago for Krystal's 30th birthday, we're going to stop off at Lake Michigan's "beach" for Raina's birthday too. And we're going to take a train to get there. She's ready. =)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Baby Cow

As you know, Raina's best friend is her cow. She greets it immediately and loves on it continuously. Krystal had the brilliant idea of bringing home a very small squishy cow, which quickly lost its legs and ears and developed a significant hole in its midsection. The baby cow wasn't going to last very long, so we upgraded to a stuffed baby cow. Raina loves the baby cow -- not as much as the mommy cow, but close -- and she frequently has the mommy cow hug the baby cow and they tell each other stories.
Raina introduces the baby cow to the mommy cow in this video:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cuddling and clutching

I enjoyed an incredibly relaxing vacation in Phoenix, Arizona, last week, and I left the other Whomptons at home. Sam and Eric were quite generous in running the house, dog, and Raina while I was away. From all accounts, Raina was mostly undone by my absence. She never articulated "I miss Mommy" but did ask where I was a number of times. Also, she refused to go to sleep any night -- sometimes being up 2+ hours after her bedtime -- and one evening she continuously cuddled with Eric in the cuddle chair for at least 20 minutes. She doesn't last 1 minute with me anymore. Something was seriously wrong.

At some point, Eric told Raina that, on Saturday, two important things would happen: 1. they'd build a crazy involved fort and 2. I would come home from Arizona. Raina knows where Arizona is, and she would frequently point to the map and say "mommy in A-zona."

They picked me up from the airport, but Raina was sleeping in the car. She didn't see me until we were unloading the car, where I miraculously appeared in the garage. (She still thinks I just magically showed up in the garage.) For the remainder of the day, she cuddled in my lap, held my hand, leaned her head against me, grabbed my leg for an impromptu hug, repeated "you came back!" and "you were in the garage", and ran around with an insane zeal. She was an incredibly happy kid.

That night, she easily went to bed, she slept in the next morning, and then took a 3.5 hours nap the next day. And we had to forcibly remove her from bed Monday morning. I think she's trying to catch up from her lack of sleep last week.

On Sunday, Eric and I discussed taking more trips: Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and an adult trip to an as-yet-to-be-determined location. Each time, Raina volunteered "I come too!" and, if that wasn't well received, she plaintively said "you stay here, Mommy."

It may be a while before she recovers and trusts that I'm here in St. Louis for the long haul.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A tough week for getting to bed

Its been a tough week for Raina. Krystal has been out of town which certainly has had some impact on her stability. But on Wednesday night this week, something else was wrong. She kept talking about the "undor". Saying it was outside. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what she was talking about. She would occasionally say, "front door" but this was not the same thing as "undor". She also talked about it coming in the front door and through the window. Clearly she was scared of something getting in the house, but I couldn't reassure her very well until I figured out what it was. Finally I translated it "Thunder", she was scare of the thunder which apparently encompassed the concept of lightning as well (which can come in the window in a way). She refused to leave the cuddle chair as she continued to talk about the thunder coming into her room. Telling her simply that it was nothing to worry about didn't seem to help much. So I asked her if she remembered how occasionally Daddy would be hiding and that she didn't know where. Then suddenly I would jump out and scare her. And for a moment she would be surprised (not scared), but then she would realize "oh thats just daddy" "daddy's silly". So I told her to do the same thing with the thunder and the lightning. If any happens its ok to be surprised, but then you just say "that's just thunder" "silly thunder". And then I told her that she needed to make sure the cow wasn't scared and tell the cow that it was just thunder. This seemed to appease her sufficiently for her to go to sleep.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reports from Nashville

Hey blogland--Stephanie here, reporting the latest news from N-ville on the combined White-Compton-Whompton visit to Nashville. My dad, aka Papa Bill, invited the White grandparents to town last weekend for some serious Raina oggling time. Though Saturday started off thunderstorm-y and rainy, everyone made it to town safely by Saturday afternoon. We ate a scrumptious lunch of sandwiches and fruits and veggies followed by more time to sit around and watch Raina do cute things. She's such a great kid and she knows exactly how to entertain. When we told Raina it was time for lunch, she instantly gravitated towards the toy cookset (a mini grill with a spatula--that Raina is modeling below--and a plate, a fork, a cup, and a skillet) to cook her lunch which she graciously shared with me. Delicious!

After some real ham and cheese sandwiches, the adults got in their heads that they would like to go bowling, but all the nearest bowling centers were packed with birthday parties and too-busy-too-answer-questions-ness. So, we went for the next best thing--a little Wii bowling.

For those of you who haven't yet had the chance to try out Nintendo's latest gift to the gaming world, you hold the Wii-mote in your hand and then do whatever motion it is that you are trying to do in the virtual Wii world. I have included a video of Eric doing some crazy curveball bowling below (and his subsequent cower).

Well, in the end, Sammy was victorious in the Wii-Bowl-erama as she defeated me in a head-to-head contest where I was heckled and cracked under pressure and Sammy was simply clutch. Way to go Sammy!!

After we were all Wii-ed out, we ate a scrumptious dinner of Santa Fe Chicken. If Eric and Krystal have told you lately that Raina eats the same amount as an adult, I can testify that they are not lying. Raina is indeed a Compton and enjoys eating. Hooray for high metabolisms and growing!!!! We also took the opportunity to celebrate Eric's birthday with cake, a new titans t-shirt, earmuffs, and a new board game called Dicecapades. With 133 dice and other various game pieces, this is not exactly the ideal game to be in a household with a toddler, but therein lies the fun.

Sunday morning, Raina awoke early--like 3:30 a.m.--ready and rearing to go for the day. Eric sat up with her for awhile until Papa Bill discovered she was awake and quickly took advantage of the Raina playtime. By 7:30 a.m., I think the two of them had dragged out every toy in the house and built a Fisher Price haven. This was also about the time that Raina got so revved up she was doing laps around the house, loudly. I'm not gonna lie, hearing Raina's giggles and "AHHHHHHHhhHHH" is way better than the screech of my alarm clock. By 8:00, Raina was sitting in my lap and we read three books, including an all-time favorite "The Monster At The End of The Book." This kid has an appetite for reading and will pretty much take every opportunity to sit in a warm lap and be read to. She also liked snuggling in her chair with a blanket like all the adults were doing.

Later on, Raina found all the small chairs and seats around the house and organized a train for the stuffed animals. Raina was steering the train and was nice enough to let me be the caboose.

To make a long story short, it's pretty amazing to see Raina grow. I remember growing up how often my relatives would say, "She is getting so big" or "She is growing up so fast!" and I remember thinking "Whatever...doesn't feel fast to me..." But now that I am on the flip side, I totally get it. When you don't see a kid for 4-6 months, it's almost like she is a whole new awesome little person with new skills and interests and a blossoming personality that is developing each and every day. She speaks in sentences and desperately tries to (and generally succeeds in) communicate her ideas and needs. She is even starting to feel pride in her latest accomplishments--like when she told me very proudly that she had "pooped in the potty!!" that particular morning. She gives lots of hugs and obviously has been loved all along the way. She's a joy. She brings smiles to everybody's faces and I can't wait to see what our next visit will be like. Until then, thanks to all for a successful and fun weekend!!

Beach dreams

In mid-February, Krystal and Raina took their biweekly trip to the library and just happened to read a book about going to a beach. Immediately, Raina seized on the idea of going to a beach herself, and she repeated for two days straight: "I wanna go beach." Luckily, the Whomptons had recently decided to go to the annual beach trip, and so we shared this information with Raina. Unluckily, Raina has no sense of time, and so she believes we're going to the beach everyday, and then gets rather disappointed when we tell her "nope, not today." Recently, Krystal told her, "when you're three, we'll go to the beach." Raina knows she's two, so we thought this would clear everything up. We'd start stalling again in May, when she actually turns three, is what her parents thought. But no. Raina starts each day with "I'm three now? Want to go to beach."

It's going to be a long time until July.

Sweet and considerate little miss

Raina demonstrated a real thoughtfulness for others today.

She had her "spring holiday party" today -- really an Easter Egg Hunt followed by lots of sugary snacks. She chose the item we would bring in, pineapple, and she proudly announced "I brought pineapple to share with my friends" when we arrived at daycare. Later, at the party, each child played with balloons, and there were just the right number of balloons for each person to have one. Raina noticed, multiple times, that 1) there was a balloon on the floor, which meant that its owner didn't have it and 2) occasionally, certain individuals had more than their fair share of balloons, which meant that some kids were left out. Raina repeatedly re-distributed balloons so that everybody had one, which we witnessed happening at least four times. No one else at the party did this, and it melted our hearts to see Raina being so considerate.

When we got home, Raina told Eric to lie down. He refused, she persisted and became a little upset, and then we finally asked her why she wanted him to lie down so much. She answered, "I want to rub your back and make you feel better." Of course, we immediately seized that opportunity and Raina rubbed Eric's back and gave hugs and said I love you. It was incredibly precious to see. She rubbed Krystal's back next and then kindly asked for someone to teach the cow how to rub backs, so she could have a back rub too.
This child continues to amaze us.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Weather changes

In Saint Louis, the weather is predictably unpredictable. Two weekends ago, we celebrated the sunny 70 degree temperature with much playing outside: taking walks, running in the backyard, riding the big wheel, and chalking the front walk. Raina initially drew snowmen (a big white blob) and then decided to make a blue elephant blocking the snowmen (now a big blue blob).

She also completely covered herself in chalk, as these pictures indicate. Blue marked her forehead, both hands, all down the front of her shirt, and the knees/thighs of her pants. She was shocked when we made her remove her clothes and take a bath.

Multiple days later, she refers to the snowmen behind the elephant.

Two days later, a blizzard hit Saint Louis, dumping over a foot of snow in our area. The entire city shut down. We had to shovel the driveway to get the car out of the garage and then, 10 minutes later, shovel the driveway to get the car back in the garage. There was a lot of snow. Raina found it frightening and fascinating all at the same time, which was a rather universal pairing for the Whomptons. We shoveled and played and threw snowballs and stomped around and then declared ourselves sick of the cold and ready for hot chocolate. Raina was hesitant to have some cocoa, but then relented when she saw that everyone else was drinking it. Here's Raina after consuming her first mini-mug of cocoa. Check out the moustache!