Monday, March 22, 2010

The Legendary Compton Appetite

Raina switched daycares when she was 1 year old (roughly Lola's age now). She would come home from the new daycare and just eat and eat and eat ridiculous amounts of food starting at 4:30 p.m. We were certain that the new daycare wasn't feeding her enough so one day we talked with the workers about the "more" hand sign and how Raina would indicate she was still hungry. Imagine our surprise when the workers responded "we give her three adult sized helpings at each meal!" They, of course, thought that we weren't feeding Raina at home when, in actuality, she was consuming 2 breakfasts, 2 snacks, and 2 massive main meals each day.

During winter break, Samantha, Raina and I ordered an extra-large Papa John's pizza. Raina proclaimed, "I'm 4, so I'm going to eat 4 pieces!" We laughed, and then were horrified when she actually consumed 4 pieces and asked for more.

Lola recently has shown her voracious appetite as well. On Sunday, she ate 2 breakfasts and then came grubbing at 9:30 a.m. for a snack. I made her 3 eggs, fully expecting that she'd eat a little bit and the rest would be her lunch. But no. She consumed all three eggs, plus 1/2 can of peaches, plus 1/2 cup of cheerios, plus 1/2 cup milk FOR HER SNACK! Tonight for dinner, she had EIGHT child servings of Tex-Mex Casserole, while Raina ate 3 adult sized servings. (I ate 1 serving.) The lesson here is simple: the Compton kids can eat!

We shouldn't have been surprised. Eric and his WashU comrades caused a Fazoli's to create a 15 breadstick limit for Eric and company instead of their "unlimited breadsticks" marketing campaign. Yes, Eric did eat his full meal plus 21 Fazoli's breadsticks in one sitting. He also holds the MBA record of 13 Cracker Barrel biscuits + consuming the full meal in one sitting. Also, during college, he frequently ate dinner with a chaser of a full pint of Ben and Jerry's. (Sadly enough, Eric was a wrestler who couldn't gain or lose weight, no matter how hard he tried.)

Needless to say, we spend a lot of money on food.

Raina Reads!

Eric and I attended Raina's Parent / Teacher Conference earlier this month and Mrs. Moulton made a (fantastic for us) announcement: Raina is on the cusp of reading. She recommended that we obtain some very beginner books and see what she could do. The main goal is for her to feel successful and to learn to love reading.

I took Raina to Borders last week and, after avoiding the "Disney princess gimme!" meltdown, came home with a set of 12 starter books. Each book builds from the previous, has just a few works per page, and allows for great feelings of accomplishment. We sat down that afternoon and Raina read five of them straight-through. She was able to sound out words when she didn't recognize it initially, and she just beamed with pride each time she finished another sentence.

Less than one week later, Raina has read through 11 of the 12 books. She also discovered a set of sight-reading books I purchased a long time ago and she worked her way through those today. I know that children continuously practice something until they've mastered it; Raina is practicing and practicing with reading, and it's wonderful to witness. She tires out quickly -- reading is hard work -- but she jumps back into it and tries again. Raina is entering the magical world of independent reading!

Ages ago, I worked in a psych lab and we measured the connection between pupil size and how hard the brain was working. The pupil is very large when the individual is thinking and concentrating hard. Raina's eyes have been laser beams: huge, intent, focused.

Raina's appetite for parents' reading to her has not changed. We recently finished The Long Winter and The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, in addition to consuming countless numbers of children's books. She sits and listens to a parent read for 40+ pages, and only gets fidgety when Lola comes by. She's an amazing kid and we are intensely proud of her.

Little Miss Helpful

Have you ever read the "Little Miss" series of books: Little Miss Chatterbox, Little Miss Nosy, Little Miss Fun, etc.? Lola is Little Miss Helpful.

She often brings family members their shoes (usually just one shoe) and helpfully drops it in the person's lap. When the person tosses the shoe back in its appropriate location (because it was not needed in the first place), Lola rushes to retrieve it and drops the shoe back in the same spot. This is cute -- Lola playing fetch like a dog -- and has only minor repercussions.

However, Lola also does this process with her own shoes, which clearly means "put my shoes on me, because I want to go somewhere!" When we toss the shoes back to the door, she retrieves them and then puts her shoes in unknown places! The following morning sees the Whompton clan scanning all possible places a shoe may go: under the couch, in the kitchen cabinets, in the pots, and, of course, in the traditional "out in the open" spaces too.

She puts her clothes away. Or, more accurately, she takes her socks out of her sock drawer in her bedroom, walks through the house, opens up the bathroom lower cabinet, pulls out the stack of toilet paper, shoves her sock in the toilet paper roll, closes the cabinet, and walks away. When we notice the sock and put it in its rightful space, she follows right behind to repeat the process again.

When she's done with her meal, she will offer up the extra items from her tray. If you don't take it from her in time, she throws it all on the floor. She stores her favorite books in the brownie pans under the oven. She tries to unlock the front and garage doors so we can leave. When a door is open, she charges right out and stands next to the car. She brings boxes of food to adults when she's hungry and she puts her milk glass back in the fridge; she also grabs her jacket, brings it to an adult, and offers up her arms to put it on. (Admittedly, these actions are very helpful.)

It's just amusing to watch the way she organizes her life and how she tries to be a "big girl" in the family.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rosy Red

Lola's cheeks occasionally get bright red, like she is overheated or feverish, although she is neither. The fire-red cheeks last for about a day and then her skin returns to its very pale complexion. For a while we worried that she had the beginnings of rosacea (illogical, but we had no better guess) or that she was coming down with a terrible illness. Then we finally figured it out. I'm too much of a scientist to claim causation, but there is a definite correlative relationship:

Lola's cheeks turn red as a warning sign that she will cut a tooth in the next day or so.

I asked a doctor friend whether she'd ever heard of this in other kids and she gave me the "um, you're crazy but I'll conjecture ..." look. But Lola's cheeks suddenly turned red when we were having lunch together on Sunday and, sure enough, she cut tooth #15 Monday night.

I wonder if this pattern will continue when she gets her adult teeth.

Let's play "Lola Says..."

Lola is communicating more clearly now. She faithfully uses the hand signs for "all done" and "pick me up!" and "no!" and she vocalizes book, here go (means here you go, please take this), uh oh, Dada, Mama, nana (for banana), done, and go. The funniest, though, is her way to communicate she's hungry. She walks into the kitchen, reaches into the pantry shelves, and extracts her choice from the options. Sometimes it's wheat thins or triscuits, but most often Lola grabs a box of cereal, hauls it into the living room, and then ceremoniously dumps it into an adult's lap. Her specificity is hilarious, as is seeing our little girl toddle around with a box of cereal that is half her height. She alternates between Barbara's Oat Squares and Trader Joe's High Fiber Organic O's. One day soon, she'll realize that she can open the box herself and she'll eliminate the middle man.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Teeth, Round Two

Raina lost tooth #2 last week, and now she has a significant gap in her bottom teeth. I cannot imagine the agony of two adult teeth squeezing into that space, and I hope that it's not too painful for her. Simultaneously, Lola's chompers successfully broke through her gums and have made impressive progress in this past week. At Lola's birthday, Lola had 14 (and working on 15) teeth and Raina had 18 teeth. I feel like there's a bad math word problem that needs to written about teeth here, like "at these rates when will they have the same number of teeth?"

The tooth fairy brought Raina a recorder and a recorder music book. She was overjoyed. And the tooth fairy brought Lola sharp pointy incisors that make her look secretly fiendish when she smiles widely. Fun!


Raina came down with pneumonia when she was younger. She was incredibly pitiful: all she wanted to do was cuddle, drink milk, sleep, and cry. In fact, being separated from a parent immediately caused her to meltdown, so we learned to trade-off "cuddling with Raina" duty when doing basic things like going to the restroom. I also distinctly remember sitting on the couch with her, and her completing the same three peg puzzles for 4 hours straight. She put the pieces back in the puzzle, but she refused to take them out, and she would cry until I took them out so she could begin the process over again. Yes, that was a miserable 4 hours. She was really sick and required one-on-one attention for 9 days. I'm thankful that she never contracted it again, and all her illnesses since have been relatively mild.

Unfortunately, Lola has had a runny nose and cough for the past four weeks. Her cough has become increasingly worse, now her breathing is labored, wheezy, and whistling, she has a very high fever, and all she wants to do is cuddle, drink milk, sleep, and cry. All signs pointed to pneumonia, and today's chest x-ray confirmed it. Poor Lola.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sick Lola and The Greatest Moment Ever

Lola woke up with a 102 fever this morning and was a complete slug all day. (I got to stay home with her). She woke up oddly early (4:30 am) and was ravenously thirsty. And then she just sat in my lap for the next hour blankly staring. She didn't eat much or at least wasn't willing to feed her self. I shoveled some food in her and then she kind of walked around vaguely content for a while. After fussing while walking in a circle some, she sat down on the floor and started to fall asleep while seated. So I plopped her in her bed and worked from home. . . 3 hours later I decided it was time to check on her. Plus I was tired and was hoping to have sleep with the baby time. So I took her downstairs and slept for another hour with her. She then alternated sleeping with being awake for 45 minutes for the rest of the day. My theory is that her vaccines she got at her 1 year check up are getting her a bit, so hopefully she will be through this tomorrow.

Now for "The Greatest Moment Ever". Lola was sitting in my lap this morning when Raina woke up and came into the room. Raina asked what was wrong with Lola, and I told her that Lola was not feeling well. So Raina asked Lola if she wanted a hug . . . . and Lola immediately responded by sitting up and spreading her arms wide. Lola understanding an offer for a hug and my two children hugging == The Greatest Moment Ever!!