Not that Nina could ever turn out to be truly terrible with the way she loves God. She eagerly says grace at mealtimes, preferring to pray to Mary than to do the traditional grace and still sometimes breaks into “alleluia” song while raising her hands, cantor-style, often with our hand bells set one atop the other like a microphone. And, when asked how she loves God, Nina declares that she loves God by loving Jack – a trend with our kids even when Jack was still in Momma’s belly.
Unfortunately, like Luke, Nina now seems to have some aversion to Mass. Case in point: Once this past month, after I had taken her to the back for being noisy, she "escaped" and ran down the center aisle of church. With Daddy away and my ligaments giving me trouble, I was too slow to catch her so an usher offered to. Just as she rounded the pews near the altar, she spotted him got scared and came crying back to me. The usher felt awful for frightening her to the point that she cried, but I assured him that I was thrilled that Nina had gotten a little scare and felt grateful for his help. Perhaps, Nina's former good church behavior will return…
With it, we pray Nina’s desire to show she is loving others by sharing with them will return. For, in recent months, we have realized we did not escape the age-appropriate “mine” stage after all with Nina. Where she used to share to the point that other moms at the library asked if she was small for her age because no two year old is ever so generous, she now can get quite territorial. And, at home, Nina is displaying some rather frustrating and unladylike behaviors of loud and whiney tantrums, hitting, pinching and “don’t talk to me”s. These are challenging. But, luckily, they are not constant. And, Sweet Nina still prevails most of the time, treating us with ubiquitous “I luvf you”s, exuberant attention to baby Jack and a continuing habit of enabling Luke by doing his chores for him and attending quickly to him when he cries or whines (sometimes even if she is the reason he is doing so!) Indeed, with real people and with dollies, Nina already exhibits a keen womanly sense of being a compassionate caretaker. And, her hugs and kisses melt hearts as they are offered in abundance!
love for playing, too. Dollie play, play kitchen play, real kitchen play… Nina loves most stereotypical “girlie” play. She is equally keen on “rough play”, jumping on mattresses, even a bit of sports – which Daddy loves. And, she becomes thoroughly engaged in water play, bubbles and chalk. She is also a bit monkey-see, monkey do with big brother on many accounts, which leads her to lots of block and figurine play, and to enjoying playing Guess Who with Daddy, Mommy and Luke (which I forgot to mention yesterday is Luke’s current favorite game.)
Much of play, we know, demonstrates love of learning, and we witness Nina learning and practicing skills through play almost constantly. Pouring; stirring; crafting; cooking; developing fine motor control with scissors, stickers and beauty dollie-head hair tools; increasing gross motor skills with loads of jumping, some pedaling and lots of running about. Nina continues to be driven by kinesthetic, auditory and verbal learning styles. She loves hands-on crafts, practical life activities and any kind of construction materials; participates with glee in rhyme time, chants and songs, often making up her own songs as she goes about her day; and continues to chatter away to herself and all she feels comfortable with at home – asking questions, making connections and simply talking about whatever is on her mind.
With all Nina's play and learning, "work" falls comfortably into place. More often than not, she loves working! Making smoothies, waffles and pancakes with Mommy; setting the table; spraying and wiping doorknobs and walls during chore time; willingly tidying up toys; gardening; even bringing me breakfast in bed one morning when I was sleeping so hard I did not hear her wake up and sneak out to the kitchen... Nina is usually a joy-filled and hard worker, who is as apt to pitch in on real tasks as she is to mimic what she sees Mommy doing– be it at the computer, in the kitchen or with child care. Both a Martha and a Mary, at times, I pray Nina always keeps a heart for work, play, prayer and service.
And, because staying physically fit is such an important part of leading a healthy life, I also pray Nina continues to loves movement as she certainly does now! Nina's movement quotient has been increasing with each day, it seems. While big brother slows and even becomes relatively still more often these days, Nina winds up and keeps on going and going and going... Jumping on the mattress that was Luke’s dedicated "heavy work" tool and now seems to be Nina’s indoor trampoline is a recent favorite pastime of our little girl. She loves running, playing and riding on toys inside and out – especially having Tortoise and Hare races with Luke! And, let's not forget running through the sprinkler with Daddy -- a recent favorite activity.
loving beauty... Nina continues to create and embrace beauty of all kinds. She busies herself drawing with pen, pencil, chalk and crayons; making designs with do-a-dot paints; creating playdough sculptures alongside brother; making up songs and dances; telling stories… She also enjoys nature walks, spotting creatures outside, music of all sorts, storybooks… She seems to have a broad palette of interests (rather than hyperfocused ones like big brother sometimes has), seeking and creating beauty daily – and helping us see it both through – and in – her eyes and smile! And, if you ask her what the nmsot beautiful thing ever is, she might respond, "Ice cream!" it seems to be her favorite food and greatest temptation lately. So much so, in fact, that we cannot keep it in the upstairs freezer or we'll find her off in some quiet corner downing it by the spoonful as soon as we leave the room.
Overall, Nina has really been developing "personality" – usually a joy-filled one, but, occasionally a we’re-in-for-it-when-she-hits-puberty one. She can challenge us with verbal and physical outbursts, sneakiness and “stories”. But, she also charms us with ready giggles, gregarious chatter and helpful hands. Plus, nothing can beat Nina’s bright wake up times. Of late, her morning routine usually consists of her entering whatever room we are in to declare, "It's morning time.” with a big smile on her face, kisses at the ready and a “Where’s baby?” This, she follows with snuggles and love for Mommy, Daddy and baby, as well as saying a morning prayer for Jack. With a routine such as this, with Nina, almost every day starts brightly and, despite a few daily sour points, simple pleasures and treasures are easy to count. At three years and one month, Nina is truly one of the finer things (or, more accurately, people) in our lives -- a blessing!
the links at Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life.
the links at Finer Things Friday at The Finer Things in Life.