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 :)