The little ones thought they were pretty big stuff because they got to go play downstairs with the big kids. :)
Raya has 3 cousins who are the same age. Having 4 two year olds around is pretty exciting. They all have such different personalities and it was so much fun to watch them together.
Our visit with Great-Grandpa & Grandma was pretty short but it was wonderful to see them. Great-Grandpa was pretty impressed with Raya's ingenuity when it came to the swings. She discovered that if she pushed one of the little ride-on toys over to the swing, she could climb on it to get up onto the swings all by herself instead of waiting for somebody to help her. (can we say independent and no sense of danger...)
I was impressed that Raya gave Great-Grandpa hugs when they left. Shockingly, my little social butterfly can be pretty timid around adults. :)
Being away from home was a little rough on my girl. She did great the first day or two but she didn't sleep well away from home. No naps the whole week, staying up WAAAAAYYYYY too late (it doesn't get dark in Idaho until 10:00pm), playing hard all day long, waking up in the middle of the night with a stomachache, etc. was not a good combo for a 2 year old with sensory processing disorder who NEEDS to have a consistent routine and plenty of sleep. Oh, and factor in the problems we kept having with the feeding pump... Anyway, she picked up some funny quirks while we were there that I think had a lot to do with her body coping with the changes to her routine. One of which was using her left hand to eat her beloved "sah-seem", which she consumed WAY too much of. :)
Raya did a lot of nibbling over the week. She ate a lot of things she's not used to eating and she ate WAY too much plain Greek yogurt. She woke up in the middle of the night more than once groaning and crying. She also had a couple of questionable diapers, so now we're not so sure that she can handle cultured dairy products as well as we thought she could. I guess time will tell.
One day I went outside and Kaida was feeding bananas to her little cousin. She was having so much fun feeding him and thought it was really neat that she could get some bananas on the spoon and hold it out to him and then he would open his mouth and let her put it in and then swallow whatever didn't fall out of his mouth. The things you miss out on when your baby sister doesn't eat. :)
The favorite activity among all 4 of the two year olds was playing on Grandma's swings. (Well, other than riding on the 4 wheeler and tractors with Grandpa.) Raya had kind of a love-hate relationship with the swings. Whoever was in the other swing would yell to the person pushing them, "Higher! Higher!" so then Raya would do it too. Then when the person pushing her would push her higher, she would panic and be frozen with fear until someone slowed her down. If it hadn't been for MONTHS of practice at OT, I don't think she would have even touched the swings so therapy really does help.
On Saturday, we had a big family party for my grandparents from Utah who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. Bless her heart, Raya wanted nothing to do with them. Grandpa has never let me forget that when I was Raya's age and younger, I was afraid of him too, so I felt bad that Raya wouldn't go near him. This was about the only picture we got of her with Great-Grandpa. I told him that the next time she sees him, she'll be hanging all over him. :)
Raya started to get a little overwhelmed at the party. I don't think anybody else would have noticed but she was seeking out a lot of her comfort behaviors that she knows make her feel better, like the swing. She also lucked out and found a great-aunt & great-uncle that were willing to keep pushing her. :)Notice the Cheeto cheese all over her shirt. :) She stayed in the swing so long that she started to doze off. Her eyelids would get heavy, her head would start bobbing, and everybody was afraid she was going to fall off. Just when someone would start to move towards her or ask me if they should get her down, she'd open her eyes and giggle like she'd been faking the whole time.
I'm not sure if it was the fact that everybody else was eating or if there was some other motivating factor but she actually ate a decent amount of food the day of the party. She had a lot of chips, a cookie or two, and I'm not sure whose milk she got (chocolate AND plain) but all that food really did a number on her. She was miserable that night.
The most brilliant thing my mom did last week was rent a bounce house for the kids to play in. Between my siblings & cousins, there were about 18 kids and the bounce house kept them very well entertained. I also have a darling teenage cousin who spent a lot of time in the bounce house WITH the little kids and they all thought he was pretty cool. Even Raya warmed up to him pretty quick. :)
Once she had decided that Destry was an okay guy, she decided that all the big cousins were pretty okay too. As long as nobody was touching her, of course. :)
My mom also made a pinata for the kids and they all took turns whacking it. Raya wasn't interested. This is a picture of me making her hold the bat and whack the pinata, which was immediately followed by a trip into the nice quiet house so that she could have a breather and relax for a minute.
She spent a lot of time in the bounce house too, which was another thing she's familiar and comfortable with thanks to OT. :) And this was more fun because nobody was making her jump back & forth and put bean bags in a bucket. :)
After all was said & done and the party had been cleaned up, the kids went back to playing on the bikes and swings. My kids LOVED being able to just go play outside all day long every day. :)
Monday was Grandma's birthday so we went over to my sister's house to make her a birthday cake. She's very patient and let all 8 of the kids who range in age from 2-9 take turns helping with the cake. Raya got to crack an egg and then help stir the batter.
Then all the kids got to have a taste of the batter:
While the cake was baking, the kids ate lunch. Raya asked for a strawberry so I gave her a piece. She ate almost 3/4 of a strawberry one tiny bite at a time and then had some sour cream. Not the Greek yogurt that she calls sour cream, but real live sour cream, 30 calories per tablespoon. It was a good calorie day. :)
By the time Monday rolled around, Raya was pretty smitten with my cousins. :) She thought they were pretty fun. These guys were all little tiny kids when I got married so it's really fun to spend time with them and get to know them as adults/almost adults. This picture of her with Cousin Logan is one of my favorites from the whole trip. :)
Logan thought it would be funny to get Raya to rub Uncle Randy's clean-shaven but slightly prickly head. Raya wasn't so sure about it. :)
With as many people as there were, the little kids never ran out of people to push them on the swings. :)
One of the other odd habits that Raya continued while we were there was her strong desire to munch on ice cubes. I cringe whenever I think about her gnawing on them but sometimes a girl just needs her ice. And a washcloth to hold it with to keep her from getting frostbite.
No, it's not your imagination. She really is becoming more disheveled and crabby as the week goes on. By the time Tuesday came, the girl was a wreck. She woke up groaning again that morning around 4:00 and was in meltdown mode. She was groaning so I got up to see if she was okay, and she was laying flat on her stomach. That's always a sign that something's not right with her. She wasn't really awake but she was groaning a lot so I started to rub her back and she got really angry and wiggled away from my hand. I turned to go back to bed and she got REALLY mad and wanted me to pick her up. Once I had picked her up, she didn't want me to touch her but wouldn't let me put her down. I didn't want her to wake up everybody else so I sat down on my bed and bounced her a little. She got mad that I sat down but I was tired so I did it anyway, but once I sat down she would get really mad if I touched her. She sat on my lap crying and eventually I laid back and tried to go back to sleep with her sitting on me. At some point, she laid down on the pillow and went to sleep for a while. That was about the point where I was ready to take everybody home and put them to bed in their own beds at 7:00 pm when they normally go to bed. (yes, we're mean and our kids go to bed at 7) She was a worn-out, crabby little girl.
Which is why later that day when she fell asleep in the high chair, instead of getting her out to try and lay her on Grandma's bed for a nap, we just left her there and gave her a pillow instead. It seemed less risky.
Tuesday night was our last family dinner before we left to come home so after dinner, we took the kids outside to take a few pictures. We have pictures of the 4 two year olds from the last 2 summers so we HAD to take more this year. :) They're in order of age, oldest to youngest from left to right:
And here's Grandma & Grandpa with all 12 of their grandkids:
It was an exhausting but awesome week and the kids can't wait until next summer when we can visit again! Thankfully everyone is catching up on sleep and getting back to their normal selves. :)