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.