Saturday, January 17, 2009

Serpent Park

Eric has very fond memories of Serpent Park, a Nashville landmark, as best I can tell. The park's core is great whimsical City Museum-esque serpent and dragon sculptures, which are perfect for climbing, exploring, investigating, and just sitting. Even though we're blocking the shot, you can still get an idea of the play space here.
Raina didn't want to climb on the sculptures much, and she migrated toward the more traditional playspaces. She did slides and walked on a shaky bridge, and then we found this highly advanced see-saw.
Eric tried to fling Raina off, and then to fling off Raina and Emily, but he's wasn't successful. He came close a few times though!

The other part of Serpent Park that Eric remembers most vividly is the large climbing structure shown below. He played King of the Mountain on it as a kid, and he was struck by how much smaller it seemed now that he's all grown up. (I know, sad.) Raina liked climbing it, but she's not a King of the Mountain girl -- especially when the top of the mountain is covered in mud. So Eric, Emily, and Raina did great chase games throughout the park instead and a wonderful time was had by all.

Meet Baby Atticus

Raina enjoys counting up her relatives: one mommy, one daddy, four grandparents, four aunties, two uncles, and FIVE cousins. The cousins win, hands down, and baby Atticus put them over the top. Raina and the rest of the Whomptons met baby Atticus over the winter holidays. We had to prep Raina somewhat to be disappointed: the baby wasn't going to play with her like her other cousins do, and she wouldn't get to hold him because he's so fragile. We also tried to warn her about how vocal he'd be, but neither Whompton adult anticipated just how vocal he'd be! (Raina woke up because of Atticus' crying and was confused a few times about what could be making those sounds!) Regardless, we delighted in the newest family addition, and, more importantly, in how absolutely happy Emily and Jerry were about being parents to Atticus.

Unfortunately, we never set down and did a large group picture (or, at least, we don't have a copy of one) so here are shots of Atticus plus one parent.

Playing with the cousins

While in Owensboro, Raina delighted in all the play time with the cousins. She skipped her midday meal (again) so she could play at their house, she had a great time in the hotel pool, and the next day she spent all the family reunion time outdoors with them on the trampoline and swing set. Raina had a healthy, slightly fearful respect for the trampoline, which served her well. (I, too, have a healthy respect for it -- touch base if you've never heard my ridiculous trampoline stories!) So she mostly stuck to the edges, played popcorn in the middle on occasion, and watched as her cousins went crazy. The last two pictures are of Gabrielle, doing death-defying jumps. Raina tried to do one set of really serious jumping, and then she got bounced off the side onto the concrete. She wanted to cuddle for a while after that, but I'm pretty certain she returned back to play. Hanging out with the parents is not as much fun as hanging out with the cousins.

At one point, Eric was chasing Raina and she shouted out "Save me, cousins, save me!" Eric, who has never had a playful relationship with his cousins, was stunned and overjoyed.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Non-Holiday Related December Pictures

Raina couldn't stand on one foot for the longest time, and then she suddenly could. She was very proud of herself, and she modeled multiple times. The longest duration is about 10 seconds, although it has a lot of wobbling.

Raina and Sweetie (the turtle). Sweetie is a battery-operated toy that projects constellations on the ceiling. Technically, Sweetie was a gift to kid two, but Raina claimed it before kid two had the chance!

Roxanne looks like she's flying!

Raina went to a Build-a-Bear birthday party and she came home with KiKi (shown here) and many stickers! We were certain KiKi would join the elite lovey status (like the cows) but she didn't ascend that high. She's been mostly forgotten at this point. What's noteworthy about KiKi is that she has a legitimate name that does not describe her at all. Raina has real difficulty naming things, and she came across this name because someone else suggested it. It wasn't long after, though, that Raina named Sweetie all by herself, so progress is being made!

Raina and Daddy cuddling. Raina occasionally will come up to an adult, do something sweet and cute, and then demand "take a picture!" I think this was one of those occasions.

Raina's new room

The Whompton adults realized that transforming the bonus room into Raina's new "big girl" room would be a much easier endeavor than making it a baby room and then dealing with Raina wanting her current room to be changed too. So we convinced her to move into the bonus room, with a few incentives. 1) She got to pick the paint color AND she'd get to help paint. 2) She got to choose which furniture pieces she wanted to keep from both rooms. 3) We promised to get her settled well before kid 2 arrived. A winter break project!

Raina knew she wanted pink and purple paint, of course, and she didn't stray from that plan once at the paint store. In the end, she chose a pink-based pale lavender color. And, to continue with this year's Whompton theme of painting on holidays, we tackled the project on New Year's Day.

Eric moved all the furniture out, we dealt with all the stuff we no longer wanted (thank you, craigslist and basement!), suited up in trashy clothes, restrained hair, taped everything up, and geared up for a fun day. Eric chose the "supervising Raina" job, which we all agreed was very generous of him. He spent most of his time panicking, as Raina soaked her paint brush in paint and whipped it around, never looked where she was going with a dripping paint brush, and frequently walked off of the tarp. Poor Eric. He stomached maybe 10 minutes of it, and then convinced Raina that she had painted enough of her room. Krystal and Samantha took care of the rest!

The next day, we whisked Raina back to daycare and then Krystal and Samantha completed the transformation. We moved over the appropriate furniture, purged old toys, organized everything, and proudly presented Raina with her new, big girl room. She was happy, and Eric was stunned. For the first time in ages, Raina's room is clean! It stayed that way for approximately two days :)

Pretty, pretty princess

Raina firmly believes that there are certain things that girls do, and she wants to do them. These things include 1) wearing pink and purple all the time, 2) reading princess books, 3) wearing princess dresses, and 4) taking bubble baths. At least the bubble baths get her clean!

Raina had a "princess ball dress" that she wore to weddings and whatnot, and once she started to outgrow it, she wore it, unbuttoned, over her normal clothes. At a certain point, though, we couldn't squeeze her into it, and she was tremendously saddened. She started asking for a "Cinderella" dress so we eventually took her shopping to get one. (Yes, we braved the post-xmas shopping day specifically to find a princess dress.) We lucked out at Macy's. Not only was the brand called "Cinderella" -- I'm not kidding! -- but it came with a matching doll dress, which Raina immediately put on baby cow. She also acquired a tiara and clip-on earrings, to make the set complete. Now she's asking for glass slippers, but we're drawing the line!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thanksgiving and Feast of Friendship

The Whomptons hosted Thanksgiving again this year, and, for the first time, Josh and Amber's family was able to come. It was fantastic. Raina LOVED spending all the time with her cousins, as you'll see with these pictures.

Raina and Hannah really connected; in fact, Hannah made certain that Raina was included in almost every activity. They had just finished doing the carousel together, and now they're holding hands and running back to the big kids' playground.

Raina spent loads of time on the swings, of course. Gabrielle was kind enough to relieve a parent from pushing Raina!

The big kids' playground has a wonderful assortment of slides, and this trio set up lots of cousins' sliding together. Here are Raina, Gabrielle, and Noah.

Just check out the pure glee on her face!

Stephanie and Raina take on the dinosaur!

Samantha and her nieces: Hannah, Raina, and Gabrielle. I don't think all the lovies count :)

Raina had a Feast of Friendship Thanksgiving performance at her school, and here are a whole set of pictures from there.
Raina and her friend Samantha.

The Whomptons, patiently waiting their turn for lunch. Also, check out the placemat Raina made, complete with hand-shaped feathers from her family members.

Raina in her costume. She liked her costume, but was completely incapable of explaining why any part of the costume existed. She did, however, make all parts of it -- clearly with lots of adult guidance!

The two classes combined and sang three songs, and then did an encore performance of the same three songs again. Very cute.

This is an unrelated picture. Raina attended a mid-November birthday party which had a Halloween theme. She was rather intimidated by the whole affair, as were her parents. Who puts a dance floor and disco ball as the center of a 4 year old party?!? Anyway, Raina chose the safe bet of bobbing for apples. She bobbed for a LONG time before she finally caught one, and then she delighted in consuming it (and ridiculous amounts of cake and juice) before we left.

Halloween Adventures

We picked Raina up from daycare one day, and she was painted as a cat. She loved her face paint and she absolutely refused to let us take it off. Bath time was a struggle, and she had kitty markings for quite a long time.

On the drive home from daycare one day, Raina pronounced "I want to be a pink snake for Halloween." Here is the result: pink hat and mittens, pink shirt, pink overalls, pink tail (and a pink candy bag). She also hissed at people for good measure!

Raina really got into Halloween this year; it was the first time she really understood what was happening. We went to lots of houses, and she was proud to show off to everyone.

Here is a great show of Raina's tail, and also of our wonderful neighbor Susan.
Check out Raina's candy largesse! She came home and organized and counted it all. We were not able to trick her into donating her candy to the Halloween candy bowl this year! We suddenly had to deal with all of this candy specifically allocated to Raina, when, in fact, we never had allocated sweets of any kind to her before. She went sugar crazy! Something had to change.

Enter the Great Pumpkin. The Great Pumpkin came and took all of Raina's Halloween candy and left this absolutely wonderful (and hand-selected by Raina) pink and orange comforter in its place. Raina was thrilled with the comforter, and we were thrilled to be rid of Raina's candy!

Shaw's Garden, Halloween prep, Obama rally

The Botanical Gardens in Saint Louis are amazing -- full of beauty and openness and whimsy, believe it or not. The Gardens have connected with some amazing artists over the past 10 years or so, and the result is nothing short of spectacular. This particular exhibit, Niki, resulted in very large mosaic-type sculptures that people were encouraged to climb and explore. The colors and textures were absolutely stunning, and our pictures do them no justice. Alas.

The Whomptons conquer a lion :)

Raina spent a lot of time climbing on the lion. The big circles you see in the mane are actually open holes, and she wasn't very stable climbing around. Eventually she reached the top, and then she just didn't want to come down again. (I didn't blame her.) We had her slide down the lion's nose (I think) to escape.

Raina's first attempt at climbing the lion -- she reached the first open hole and was thrilled to be there!
Raina spent most of her time checking out the sculptures, but the rose garden resulted in lots of sniffing -- maybe because all the flowers were right at her height?

Just a nice shot of the girls.

The day was gorgeous, so we decided to carve our pumpkin. Raina determined all physical attributes; as she said "I'm supervising!" Our carving was interrupted by a politician campaigning -- we had one political sign in our yard and the actual opponent came by to talk with us. We were unconvinced by his rhetoric, but he complimented the very large knife I was using. (I love that knife!)
Our happy pumpkin :) Unfortunately, we made the same mistake as last year: we carved the pumpkin way too early in the season. But he looks good here, and that's what counts!

Oh, 2008, the year of politics. Raina watched the morning news with her parents everyday, so she heard plenty about the presidential race. We all had our favorites .... Raina's was (and still is) Sarah Palin. When asked why, she responded, "she's pretty and I understand what she says!" Yep, that summed up the attraction all right. The other Whompton women were Obama fans, and Eric became one too after the Palin pick, so we all decided to go to the Obama rally downtown. The expected turn-out was 30-50,000 or so, but Saint Louis turned out in droves. Over 100,000 of us actually showed up. (We relocated to get away from people too many times to count.) But this is Raina's first official political rally, and she still talks about seeing Obama there.

Okay, admittedly, with so many people there, it was difficult to see anyone. She claims she saw Obama on the big screen, and I have to imagine that being on Eric's shoulders helped. She had a lot of fun on his shoulders, and then she needed to use the restroom. That called the end of our trip!