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!