Monday, July 25, 2011

Developmentally Appropriate

"Developmentally appropriate" is a phrase used a lot in my school and the meaning is straight-forward:  challenge students with skills and concepts that match up with the child's intellectual ability, emotional maturity, and abstract-thinking level.  Making a concept too hard or too easy is just frustrating for everyone involved; hitting the developmentally appropriate sweet-spot is the aspiration for teachers.

This is something I've kept in mind as a parent.  For the past two years, I fended off our pediatrician's statements that my kid should know how to swim.  I encouraged my kid to bike with training wheels as long as she wanted, I kept buying her velcro shoes so she wouldn't have to tie them and elastic-waist skorts so that she didn't have to manipulate snaps and buttons.  Raina's fine motor dexterity wasn't ready for anything complicated and her gross motor skills have come along slowly.  (She's cursed with my complete lack of balance and muscle strength.)

However, when Raina had the background skills, maturity, and confidence, she learned each skill in a matter of minutes.  One swim lesson.  10 minutes on a bike without training wheels.  3 minutes to learn to tie shoes.  Waiting until the situation was developmentally appropriate for her has paid off handsomely.

Little Lola is very bright, she has a good memory, she makes connections, she's athletic, and she's physically large for her age.  Daycare keeps advancing her into the next older group because that's developmentally appropriate for her.  Fortunately / unfortunately, she's being promoted to the three years-old room in a few weeks, even though she won't even be two-and-a-half.  She's ready for everything EXCEPT for the potty training.  She just isn't there yet and we have been pushing her because that is what daycare wants, regardless that it clearly isn't developmentally appropriate for her yet.  Needless to say, it has been a trial for her and us, and I am hopeful that it just clicks for her in the next few weeks. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Raina

Lola started using possessive pronouns a long while ago, saying things like my cup, my shoe, my book, my mommy, my daddy.  Heard most often from her now is "my Raina." 

Lola wakes up from her naps and asks "Where is my Raina?"  Or when she's feeling sad and pitiful, which happened a lot today because she's sick, Lola cries "I want my Raina!" 

I think it's adorable that she has claimed her big sister as her own.  It's an extra-special and sweet way to show she loves Raina very much.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Parenting Ecstasy

Raina and I are driving to daycare to pick up Lola.  I've been singing and Raina has been reading and we haven't communicated at all during the 20 minutes.  Feeling a tad bit guilty, I try "Reading is wonderful, isn't it?"  (Raina is reading chapter books and she is beyond thrilled about it.) 

Her response is all fervor:  "YES!  It's AWESOME!"  And for about 10 seconds we bask in the warm glow of knowing how to read and enjoying books so much.  Then she says, "That's enough talking.  I need to get back to my book!" 
Hysterical, and pretty much how I feel when I'm reading a good book too.  I loved hearing this from my daughter. 

Raina and I arrive at daycare and we examine Lola's pottying chart.  Usually it's a log of "attempts to use the potty" without actual success.  Today, though, had FOUR different pee-on-the-potty instances!  FOUR!  Lola was exceptionally proud of herself, as she should be, and I had visions of being free of diapers.  What a glorious gift that would be. 
All in all, it was a wonderful five minutes as a parent.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Raina reflects.

Since turning six, Raina has amassed all sorts of impressive achievements.  She can read short chapter books.  She can ride her bike without training wheels.  She can swim the length of the pool and back without assistance. I was thinking of all these things while in the car with her today and I asked her "what have you learned that makes you the most proud of yourself?"  She thought for a bit and then responded "I'm learning to be a good person and big sister."  It melted my heart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Whomptons Celebrate Independence!

The Whomptons believe in cramming all sorts of family fun into each weekend, and Independence Day weekend was no exception.  We were fortunate to include all sorts of extended family into our play.

On Friday, we found out that Eric's parents would be joining us for the weekend.  Friday night saw us gallivanting off to Weekends Only to acquire a mattress for the bonus room.  Yes, Samantha's room has been vacant since late March.  We had done nothing to it since then; occasionally the girls played in there, but that was the extent of our involvement with that corner of the house.  Needless to say, it was time to make the bonus room into a semblance of a guest room again.  We lucked out, found a nice bed, and they agreed to deliver the next day.  Woohoo!

Saturday saw us furiously cleaning.  (Did I mention the in-laws were coming?)  Everything got the standard scrub, and the bonus room received lots of attention.  Roxanne had lived in that room too and she left behind a fair amount of her hair.  Everywhere.  Walls and baseboards and carpets were cleaned multiple times until I considered it passable and then we set up the bed. 

We had a bookcase in that room which we moved out into the living space.  I had purged a fair number of books earlier in the year, so we didn't actually have enough books lying around to fill it.  Then we realized that Whomptons don't fill bookcases with books; we fill them with board games!  Now our adult board games are featured prominently in the downstairs living room.  It's awesome.  We weren't able to fill the bookcase completely, but yesterday's Groupon scored us $50 of board game store loot for $10 so we're optimistic about the future.

Moving board games downstairs freed up some space in the dining room bookcase so I decided to pull out all the framed pictures.  (The pictures had been boxed when Raina arrived and really haven't emerged since then.)  It was wonderful to pull them out and reminisce about high school, college, our wedding, and the early Raina days.  We quickly realized that we have no framed pictures of Lola; it's time to start printing off the digital photos! 

Saturday night, Gary and LaVerne came over and watched the girls while Eric and I celebrated birthdays and anniversary with the Williamson clan.  While there, Samantha realized the best time to hang out with us was before the Comptons arrived, so she came over bright and early Sunday morning.  We were game-playing by 9 am!  Raina also started teaching Lola how to play basic board games like CandyLand and Snorta.  We soon will induct Lola into our game-playing coven :)

The Comptons arrived Sunday afternoon; we had dinner, plenty of cuddle and play time, and the Whompton adults went bowling for the first time in ages.  Our scores were predictably terrible and will not be shared here.

Mama Jo cuddled with the girls before bedtime Sunday night.  
 Mama Jo and Raina have bad habits of closing their eyes at just the wrong time.  This one is almost perfect.

Everyone slept in on Monday morning and we greeted the day with good cheer.

Then we headed out to the Magic House.  We have taken Raina to the Magic House oodles of times but this was Lola's and the Comptons' first go.  It was a blast.  The girls charged up Jack's Beanstalk and climbed up and down multiple times before the mob arrived.  At times Lola was hesitant about her next move, but Raina took her big sister job seriously and helped Lola along. 

I wanted to hang out in the "old" Magic House parts so we ushered the kids that direction.  Slides and climbing structures and whole rooms with balls and magnets and air tunnels -- the place is incredibly fun.  We had great photo opportunities with the electrostatic generator.
 This picture is only of Raina's bangs.  Wow.  That kid has a lot of hair.
Then we ventured out into the garden.  The girls were appropriately fascinated with the boats.

The Magic House addition is for more mature audiences, I think, as it has a significant emphasis on literacy, mystery decoding, and government.  We played around in the Oval Office, sang patriotic songs in the Congress (and drove out the other patrons from the room!), and played in the court.  Raina and Lola took turns being the judge and the adults were happy to sit quietly in the jury box.

We concluded our venture in the construction zone.  The girls gleefully shoveled and dumped rocks.

Lola discovered a broom and dustpan set, which occupied her for a goodly amount of time.  She really loves to sweep.  She kept trying to put the set away in its proper home but the brooms alternated in falling over and hitting her in the head.  She eventually gave up and carried the broom over into the white shower space and ditched it there.

Everyone was so worn out from the Magic House that sleep overtook us all in the afternoon.  Only Eric resisted its siren song.  We took family photos, ate lots of tasty food, and played Apples to Apples.  All in all, a lovely three-days weekend!

Camp Pegasus

Raina treks off to Camp Pegasus each day and she truly loves it.  She swims every day (and now that Raina actually knows how to swim it is even more fantastic), has PE and games, connects with new and old friends, and studies a theme during each two-weeks session.  The first session was all about polar habitats, and she came home each day with new fascinating facts to share.  At the end of the session, the kids in her group performed two plays that they wrote.  The first play was about polar bear parents losing their polar bear babies and all the different ways to get them back.  Raina's play was about tall penguins thinking they were better than short penguins, and then realizing that all penguins are great.

Raina had two speaking lines in the play.  I was stunned and so proud that Raina volunteered to talk! 
Raina's costume was a penguin head / mask.  It was an impressive creation. Her friend Isabel was also a tall penguin.

Independence Day weekend did not have camp, for obvious reasons, so Raina constructed this complex train track instead.  Raina's spatial creativity has really taken off, and she frequently will sit down and draw pictures, create interesting block towers, or build new train paths.  We were particularly impressed with this track because it has so many options for the trains to take; clearly Raina has moved past linear paths and has decided to create more intricate arrangements.  Fun!