Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lola's favorite things

Lola's vocabulary expands on a somewhat regular basis -- she adds about a word a week.  The most commonly heard words are go, cracker, up, dow-n (down), uh-oh, buh (bird), duh (duck), buk (book), muk (milk), nana (banana), mama, and dada.  Her favorite thing to eat, and therefore her favorite thing to say, is cracker and she says it all the time when she's excited. 

Lola understands a lot of vocabulary too and will follow basic instructions:  get your shoes or go to the changing station or give Samantha a hug.  Some commands she's not as quick to follow (Let go of Raina's hair!) but on the whole she's eager to show off what a big girl she is. 

The potty has returned to its proper home in the kids' bathroom and Lola loves plopping down on it over and over again.  It's a great game and occupies her for a full minute of bouncing each time.  The bathroom also holds Lola's toothbrush.  Lola climbs up on the stepstool, claims her toothbrush, and walks around the house brushing her teeth.  She automatically cries when toothbrushing time is over so we've learned to let her decide when she's done brushing her teeth.  She is fascinated by the toilet paper (we don't leave that out for her anymore) and she frequently stands on the scale, bounces, and watches her weight go up and down.  Lola enjoys bouncing on beds too, and she often treks into Samantha's room to bounce and bounce and bounce.

We're trying to connect Lola with a lovey.  Our efforts thus far have proved unsuccessful, although we are making headway with a white cat (Raina's first lovey) and a very large, round tweety bird (courtesy of Aunt Ginny).  Lola's favorite toy of the moment is a large plastic red truck; she zooms it around the house a la Matthew's TruckMatthew's Truck is one of Lola's favorite books and I only can assume the two things are related.

Lola plays independently most of the time, and a large amount of her play is pretend-based.  She plays with puppets or with the dishes and food in the play-kitchen.  She also loves to chase a beach ball in the basement and she cackles with glee each time it bounces away. 

She and Raina roughhouse with Daddy each night.  She'll  start the action by pushing someone over, climbing on her/his midsection, body-bopping repeatedly, and shouting "AAAAHHH!" She's become much stronger and wreaks havoc on the bladder if the person is unprepared. She plays chasing games with us and, even though she's much slower than the rest of us, she never stops trying.  She just circles and circles and circles the house while we lap her.

She's also fascinated with the outdoors and frequently says "go!" and tries to open the door.  All of our low-lying windows have Lola prints (hand and mouth) that demarcate where Lola watches the birds and ducks and deer and trees in our yard.  Once outside, she charges down the driveway and heads straight for the neighbor's house across the street.  (The bird-watching is better from over there.) 

She has little to no shyness or inhibition and she requires a lot of safety supervision.  Lola warms up to new activities far quicker than Raina does; in some cases, Raina only will do the things that Lola tried first.  Raina was traumatized by her first BounceU birthday party, for instance.  Lola, however, was overwhelmed with excitement and we had to restrain her multiple times the inflatables that were much too advanced for her. 

Lola also loves her mommy.  Lola can be completely stable and playing by herself but if mommy walks by or her voice is heard Lola devolves into a crying, hysterical mess.  We distract Lola before Raina and I leave in the morning.  Watching anyone go without her really makes her jealous and mad, and she just breaks down when she sees Raina leaving with me and without her. 

Other successes:  Lola has developed much more of a sleep routine.  We put Raina to bed and then it's Lola's turn.  Lola gets a diaper change, a small amount of milk while cuddling, and then is placed in her crib while still awake.  She used to cry incessantly, but now only puts up a mild, half-hearted fuss for a few seconds before settling down.  Life is a lot easier this way!

April Showers

Raina and the other JKers performed "April Showers" for Grandparents and Special Friends Day.  Check out the cuteness of the preschoolers.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Beasley Art Gallery

MICDS has a great visual arts program and I LOVE the Lower School Visual Arts teacher.  The students create such involved work that relates to the curriculum and also broadens their understanding of the world.  Amy Oliver does more to promote diversity and cultural understanding than any other person I know.  When Amy started at MICDS, she created the Beasley Art Gallery.  Students choose some of their favorite pieces from the year and the art pieces are displayed on gallery boards throughout the lower school.  Family members are invited to see the art gallery and meet the artists one evening each year.  The undertaking is immense:  500 students displaying 5-6 pieces results in 2500 - 3000 items displayed for one night only.  Wow.

Raina was overjoyed to share her art with us.  She selected a painting of Luna Cow, a watercolor display of a dolphin, a ceramic fish, and a desert landscape.  In addition, every Lower School student draws a self-portrait; Ms. Oliver compiles them all into a collection of faces per grade and distributes them at Gallery Night.  We have portraits of all Raina's classmates from this year, which is just fantastic and is something that we'll treasure for years to come.

There is evident growth in Raina's art ability as well.  The Luna Cow drawing was very early in the year --September, I believe -- and it is difficult to distinguish as a cow (or any creature, actually).  The later works are much more detailed and precise and I think the landscape is stunning.  I cannot wait to see what next year's Gallery Night will bring!

Cooking Class

Raina's class invites parents to cook a snack with the 20 kids once a week.  A parent selects a day and then is responsible for planning and executing a cooking adventure for the 20 kiddoes.  Theoretically, the snack is healthy (since the kids are eating it at 9:30 a.m.) and allows the kids to be involved in the actual preparation.
I'm a cook and I was scared off.  Raina helps me cook all the time at home, but I very much am the person in charge and she "supervises" or oversees the process and occasionally participates by dumping in measured items or cleaning vegetables or something.  Nothing huge, and I know my kid, so I know that these tasks are exciting for her and that she is very capable of them.  But scaling her by a factor of 20 was too much.  I really struggled to come up with a snack idea too.  We do healthy snacks which are somewhat pre-prepared: fruit, cheese on crackers, carrot sticks, wheat thins.  No cooking required.

I took Raina to a Parents as Teachers cooking class and discovered that we could make little bagel pizzas.  The design was to trick kids to eat vegetables, but who cares?  I finally had something that a bunch of kids could do and with which I was comfortable having my name associated. 

Cooking day was today.  I took plenty of bagels, sauce, and cheese, clearly too much mushrooms and peppers, and not enough pineapple.  Raina, of course, piled everything on her pizza, whereas the other kids were scared of the vegetables.  Oh well.  The kids had fun, Raina was thrilled to have me there (after all the other moms had come repeatedly), and it was wonderful to watch Raina's class in its natural environment.  Her classmates are adorably sweet and kind to each other and are remarkably creative. 

I'm glad that we spent the morning cooking together, and I'm very glad that I only signed up for one cooking day!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

St. Louis wildlife

The Whomptons live, as we affectionately call it, in the slums of Creve Coeur, fully encased in suburbia: tons of houses, lots of big trees, plenty of dogs and cats. We are lucky enough to have a house that backs up to common ground, which is about 100 meters across and miles and miles long. The common ground brings in the real wildlife, which we love to see. We regularly see squirrels and birds, chipmunks and rabbits, ducks and geese, and deer. Deer travel up and down the common ground and they graze and nibble on bushs and grass (and, admittedly, on our tomato plants). We have what can best be described as a thicket in the backyard and it attracts many deer. We have been lucky enough to have a family of four deer travel to our yard each morning. The girls, especially, love to stand at the dining room window and watch the incredibly gentle deer enjoy their breakfast.

Lola's Major Illness, Round Two

Lola is a happy, happy kid, who is eager to laugh and smile and explore and play. That is, unless she is sick, in which case she becomes a grumpy, cuddly, screaming, tired mess. Lola never was sick when she stayed home with me, and was sick maybe once when she was in the older infants room at daycare. But as soon as she started transitioning into the Toddler room at daycare she became sick with a rather severe illness and she's been constantly sick ever since.

A few weeks ago Lola had labored breathing (we assumed in reaction to the high pollen count) and kept waking up, so we pulled out the nebulizer and the albuterol and did treatments at 11 p.m., 2:30 a.m., and 6 a.m. The treatments helped some, but didn't stop the development of a fever on Sunday, which meant that we had to start the "which adult stays home?" negotiations. (Kids need to be fever free for 24 hours before heading back to daycare.) Other than a slightly runny nose and the fever, Lola seemed relatively fine.

And then she got progressively worse: a much higher fever, sleeping 6 hours straight during the day, only drinking milk, refusing all food, crying incessantly, demanding to cuddle and refusing to do anything independently. At 72 hours of fever, she had a doctor's visit, another chest x-ray, and another diagnosis of pneumonia. She got an immediate dose of medicine in the leg and was sent home with a different medicine to take.

Friday morning she took one dose of the new medicine and then broke out in a full body rash, which started at the face and neck and then progressively spread to everywhere else. Since the rash could have been an allergic reaction to the medicine, she got another doctor's visit. The rash was irrelevant, but gave Lola's doc another chance to check her out. He measured the amount of oxygen in her blood, declared it to be too low, and sent us to the hospital.

We checked into the Missouri Baptist Children's ER, were connected with great nurses and a very nice doctor, and played the waiting game. Lola's oxygen looked fine, but to be sure they ran a lot more tests, including another chest x-ray. The worst involved drawing blood. They really struggled to find a vein to work. Eventually they selected one in her hand; I watched as they dug and dug around inside her hand as they hoped to hit the vein. They never did, so instead they filled up the vial with one drop of blood at a time. It was an excruciatingly awful thing to witness and be a part of and two weeks later she still has a bruise on her hand. But the hospital declared her fine and sent her home.

She slowly recuperated over the weekend and, come Monday morning, she had returned to her happy, playful, giggly self. Thank goodness.

Each day since, the daycare workers have reported that Lola has been a joy and that they've never seen her so happy. My response to them: "you hadn't had a chance to meet the real Lola yet. She's always like this, when she's not sick." Here's hoping that the real Lola stays around for longer and the sick Lola takes a hiatus.