Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spotlight on Nina @ 2 yrs., 8 mos.

Yesterday, we spotlighted Luke. Well, today, we are doing the same for our girl. Nina is two years, eight months old, (plus one day). And what a personality she is developing. A mixture of loving compassion and assertive impatience, she is not “terrible” at two. Rather, she is sweet at times, amusing at others and very demanding at still others.

Here’s a synopsis about Nina this past month or so:

Nina has been loving God spontaneously and overtly every day. She often breaks out in song – “Alleluia, praise the Lord!” – and whenever we ask her about what she is thankful for during mealtime prayers, she says simply, “God”. She loves to say grace and the “Hail Mary” and she still declares at least once a week that she is going to marry God. Truly, Nina melts our heart with her spontaneous faith-filled prayers and songs and ready declarations of fidelity to God. May she always have such an organic love for God, and may it only grow as she ages and learns more about His Word and will.

Nina has been loving others with literal declarations of “I luvf you” – a verbal reminder she randomly offers each and every day. (Again, hearts melt!) Additionally, Nina has an amazing piquant for sharing (even her last koala cookie in the car when Luke is sad that he has devoured his) and is very sensitive to people who are sad or crying – real or in books and on cartoons. She immediately notes their sadness, often offering kisses and hugs. She also is quite an enabler already – taking care of big brother, cleaning up when he is in trouble for not helping to do so, offering to share her chocolate milk when he has been temporarily forbidden from having more of his own after purposefully spilling his, etc. (We are not sure if this enabling habit is good or bad, but it sure is sweet to witness...) And, Nina offers the biggest squeeze hugs to Grammy, aunties and others at times. Plus, Nina love, love, loves her baby sibling. She is constantly offering kisses and conversation to the baby in my belly and often gives me bites of food “for the baby” or drags a blanket over to me because “baby is cold, Mommy”. Indeed, Nina loves all... Or almost all. She can be quite stubborn and petulant when Nina is afraid, not getting her way, overtired or in an uncomfortable situation (such as at a medical facility). Indeed, Nina has a decided dislike for doctors lately, often refusing to share her regular sunshine smile and fun expressions with them. But, for the most part, she is a very amiable and compassionate little girl.

Nina is joyful, too. She loves playing lately, both directed and free... by herself, with Luke, with peers, with Mommy or with Daddy. (“Let’s rough play!”)  She likes putting tiny objects in little holes, building block and cylinder towers, playing with flashcards and other small bits of card and paper that she finds about the house and talking on “phones” (which can be anything from remote controls to pieces from her dollhouse). She especially likes playing with babydolls and things musical.  She also likes getting into things with Brother.  Indeed, Luke and Nina spend long stretches each day alternating between imaginary play and you-can't-imagine-what-they-did-now adventures...  And, with Mommy, Nina enjoys  puzzles, Concentration games and Go Fish games... Plus, she comes alive with  dancing and singing activities , as well as “doing drama” and getting a bit rough-and-tumble at times. A lady and a scamp, Nina is just as likely to be a picture of a gentle, sweet girl-child at play as she is to be an impish little tomboy. She is as likely to hug and pat her dollie’s back as she is to give a good, solid wallop to the punching bag Luke got for Christmas. Gentle or otherwise, Nina simply loves to play!

And Nina loves learning, too. Like many children her age, she is quite a kinesthetic learner, exploring her world through hands-on activities. She is very into mastering fine motor skills – lots of coloring and putting small objects in small places – as well as domestic skills – constantly asking to help with cooking, dishes, sweeping and spray-and-wiping. She’s also an auditory learner – loving to sing our “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday...” song every morning, and, then, chanting rhymes and humming songs throughout the day. And, undoubtedly, Nina is verbal! She asks questions, tells tales and simply talks, talks, talks when we are at home together. She’s quieter when we are out, but as she gets going, people often comment to me about how good her verbal skills are. Even though she has never been one to sit as long, and with as much focused concentration, as her brother does with piles of books, I think Nina likes listening to them as he and I read them. A true woman already, it seems Nina has mastered multi-tasking by consuming words and language even as she goes about her other “work”.

And, boy, does our Nina love working! She readily jumps to “helphshu” when I start cooking or sweeping the floor. And, she is more than happy to not only clean up her own messes at times, but to take care of Luke’s, too. Plus, she likes play at being on the “putah” (computer) with calculators, boxes and even windowsills, as well as to busily write and type notes (modeling after Mommy who, perhaps, does too much of these things at times.) She also (sometimes to my chagrin) will determinedly sneak off to the cupboards and fridge alike to fix herself a meal and – yay! – has decided that this week she will be potty trained for No. 2, even if still working on No. 1. Yes, Nina has taken to quietly going off to the bathroom to do her business and, then, trying to clean up everything from the potty to her hands on her own, no matter how quickly I try to step into help. Miss “I do it”, Nina is rarely idle and is often purposeful. Truly, even as I cringe at Nina’s new-found kitchen and potty independence at times, I hope our little lady maintains her confident, enthusiastic work ethic as she matures. It is a habit will serve her – and others – well in days and years to come.

And, as for loving beauty... Nina enjoys music, nature, picture books and prayer regularly. Plus, she creates beauty as often as she admires it. Through experiencing Nina, Mike and I are often reminded of how truly beautiful simplicity can be. Nina’s ready smile, her compassionate gestures, her joy-filled singing, her spontaneous prayers, her quiet (and boisterous at times, too) explorations are all so simple and yet so dear. Nina admires and inspires that which is good.

Now, of course, Nina is still two and does have her fair share of ill-habits and challenging behaviors. She can twist her face into quite a pout. And, she can be shockingly vocal and demanding about her wants “right now. You not listening to my words.” Plus, she is going through a bit of a running away, hitting, testing limits and sometimes being sneaky stage. That said, overall, Nina is surprisingly charming for her age. Nina, at two years, eight months and a day old delights in each day from bright wake-up times to busy explorations to snuggly bedtimes. She goes with the flow, alternating between engaging others and simply enjoying her own thing. And, she does it all with such expression! Nina truly is our delight – a welcome gift and a reminder from God, that joy is always just a perspective away.


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