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Beautiful sights to behold

Sometimes you just have to slow things down a bit. Life gets a little too crazy, things start to spin out of control, and you just need to take a step back. That's what we're doing right now. The last 2 1/2 years have been rough. It's been rough on everybody but I've realized recently that I've taken on more than I need to and it has taken its toll on me in a lot of ways. The remedy? Cancel everything and stay home. :) We've been spending a lot of time together at home for the past couple of weeks and it's been wonderful. The kids love playing together (almost always) and they love to snuggle up together on the couch at night and watch silly movies on Netflix before bed. Last night as I was being subjected to another episode of Phineas and Ferb, Donny and I sat on one couch and the kids were on the other. I looked over at them and what I saw just melted my heart:
The pictures may be blurry and pixely and their eyes might be glowing, but even that doesn't take away from how sweet it is to see them all happily piled on the couch together.

Raya finally got to come to church with us today. She's only been twice since last fall because ugly things happen when Raya gets sick. Her respite provider was out of town and since school is out, we had been planning on taking her to the nursery class today. Plans changed when I heard that HFMD (hand-foot-mouth disease) has been on a rampage lately in this area. It causes a fever, sore throat, rash and sores in the mouth and on the hands & feet. Needless to say, we do NOT need anything to make eating painful for her again and cause new oral aversions when we're still trying to overcome old ones!

We still took her with us but opted to keep her in the adult classes instead of send her to the nursery. We're very fortunate and grateful that she doesn't have any immune deficiency issues but when she DOES get sick, she's a mess for weeks and I'm just not willing to risk it yet. It seems like for the last several months, every time she starts to really make progress she ends up getting sick and losing it all again.

Anyway, the girl was SO excited to get to come with us! She was all dressed and ready to go first thing this morning, thanks to her big sisters. She wore one of Kaida's dresses but you never would have guessed it wasn't hers since it fit her so well. Aside from the very smelly poopy diaper, church went well considering that it's 3 hours long, it's exactly during naptime, we kept her in the boring (to a 2 year old) adult classes, and she's not used to going.

Since she missed naptime, she was pretty tired when we sat down to eat dinner. Since everything on our menu tonight required advanced chewing & swallowing skills, I opted to give Raya her good ol' plain Greek yogurt and goldfish crackers. Her last couple of meals hadn't gone too well so I wanted this one to be successful and positive for her. (Oh, and by the way, we decided a couple days ago to lift the ban on Raya eating cultured dairy products since she has always tolerated them just fine. After the way she was when we gave her milk though, we are NEVER giving her milk again! At least not until she's able to tell us that it makes her feel yucky.)

Raya's big brother used to fall asleep while he was eating lunch and dinner at least a couple times per week. It was adorable! I'd leave the room for a minute and come back to find him zonked out with peanut butter and jelly all over his face (back before we knew he was allergic to nuts). Sometimes he'd even keep taking bites even though he was totally asleep. He was a very busy boy when he was Raya's age and because he was so busy when he was awake, I treasured the times when he would doze off peacefully with his little cheek on the counter next to his half-eaten burrito. Even as much as I thought I appreciated it, it was one of those things that I took for granted as something that all kids do at one time or another until Raya came along. I have wondered many times if there would ever be a time that she would fall asleep in the high chair with food hanging out of her mouth. It probably sounds silly to anyone who has never struggled with a non-eating child, but it made me sad to think that I might miss that with her and I have wished for it.

Today turned out to be the day that it happened though. We sat down at the table and dished out everybody's food, including Raya's, and started eating. Raya was hard at work on her 5 goldfish crackers and 1 tablespoon of "sah-SEEM!" (i.e. Greek yogurt) when suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw her little head bob. I told her she looked tired and she shook her head "No" at me and kept eating her yogurt-covered goldfish. A few seconds later, her eyelids were getting REALLY heavy and her head started to bob again.
Everybody laughed so she laughed and took another lick of yogurt.

Even as she licked the yogurt off of her fingers, she could barely keep her eyes open. :)
We tried not to let her see that we were watching her but it didn't take long and she was out.
She finished her first 5 goldfish and most of the tablespoon of yogurt and asked for more, so I gave it to her. She tried SO hard to stay awake and eat it but she just couldn't keep her eyes open.
Right after I took that picture, her head fell backwards and she jerked awake which made everybody laugh. Since the big kids were laughing, she knew she had done something funny so she started laughing really hard and trying to do it again. Try as we may to ban laughter from the dinner table so Raya can focus on eating, they just can't seem to help themselves. :)
From that point on, Raya wasn't nearly as sleepy and kind of shifted gears to the pointlessly-staring-into-space phase of toddler drowsiness. Also entertaining to watch. :)
Once I reminded her what her objective was, she got all excited about her "sah-SEEM!" (and yes, she ALWAYS says it that way) and started digging in with her spoon again.
Okay, well she doesn't look all that excited in that picture but she was. :) She sure does love her "sour cream"! I think she thought I was a little crazy taking a dozen pictures (and maybe a video clip or two) of her falling asleep at the table but it was something that I have looked forward to and want to remember. :)

Sometimes you just have to close the doors on everything that's trying to steal your happiness, take a break from reality, forget about all the outside crap that drags you down, and be happy with who and what you have in your life. That's one of the most important lessons that I've learned in this phase of raising our family.

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