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Catching up: the week before Christmas

I've been MIA for a couple weeks. What can I say, life is busy. Every time I sat down to update the blog in the last couple weeks, it just made me want to go take a nap. (or maybe it was the ridiculously busy schedule of events in December that made me want to take a nap...) At any rate, I have a lot to talk about. :)
First, here's a picture of our family at the older kids' choir performance in mid-December:
It's such a rare thing to have anybody take a picture of all of us. Until Thanksgiving, the only other family picture we'd had taken in 2013 was in January when Cole got baptized. Kind of sad considering how many family pictures I've done for other people but it's hard to do family pictures of your own family.

Moving on... So the week of the 16th started out totally on the wrong foot for me. (see previous blog post from the 16th) I was really just in need of a break from all things medical. It's kind of hard to get a break when Raya can't survive without all of that stuff but I have managed over the past couple of weeks to mentally check out a bit and just do what we have to do on a daily basis but not over-analyze every detail. In other words, I suppose you could say I've been going through the motions (and letting Donny be more involved) and not really thinking about things at all. It's been the break I needed. Tuesday the 17th was a much better day, albeit busy and my to-do list never got done. Raya had a make-up OT session so we went to that and then took lunch over to one of our favorite people for her birthday.
Raya had a great therapy session! She was super cooperative and did a pretty good job following directions & staying focused. It's always nice to have a day like that.

We had a great time visiting with our friends. Raya brought Brooke a sticker from therapy for her birthday, which I thought was really sweet. :)

Raya also got to have a little picnic lunch with her friend Gracie. I wasn't sure if she would actually eat anything but she was pretty excited about the grapes Brooke gave her and ate all of them.
(if I wasn't taking a break from all things medical, I'd point out that Raya's cheeks have been randomly turning red again, sometimes both and sometimes just one. but I'm taking a break.)
Raya and Gracie were quite the pair with Raya's flaming red cheeks and Gracie's black eye.

On Wednesday the 18th, our ridiculously busy schedule hit a peak. Ashtyn was supposed to be at the church at 4:50 to go with her group to help serve dinner at the nursing home where her great-grandpa lives. Cole was supposed to be at scouts at a different location at 5:00, and Raya had a Christmas program and was supposed to be at her school at 4:45. Clearly I couldn't be in all of those places at once so I found Ashtyn a ride, dropped Cole off half an hour early, and showed up at 4:40 for Raya's program. I walked in thinking I had done a great job of getting there on time because there was still quite a few parking spaces in the parking lot {that's way too small for the number of students that go there}. I was mistaken though, and apparently I should have gotten there a good 15 minutes earlier than I did if I had wanted to get a seat in the cafeteria where I could actually see what was going on. Or get a seat at all. If I had to sum up the program in one phrase it would be "well intentioned but poorly executed". The school just doesn't have a space that's large enough to accommodate the families of all of the preschool kids. This was just 3 teachers' classes, not the entire preschool. Here's what it looked like from where I was standing (yep, standing. the whole time), and you can't even see in this picture but there were almost as many people packed into the limited standing room around the edges of the cafeteria as there were sitting down.
And yes, that woman stood right there in front of me the entire time. At one point I actually had to tap her on the shoulder and ask her to scoot over because she was directly in front of me and completely blocking my tiny view of Raya. I brought my good camera so that I'd be able to get closer up pictures of her. This is about as good as it got: (and I blurred the other kids' faces on purpose for privacy, just FYI)
That was the best picture I got. Here's what the rest of them look like:
It was so loud in there that you could barely make out what the kids were singing. They're also preschoolers and a lot of them didn't seem to know the words or the tune. It was still cute and Raya was obviously having SO much fun (no sarcasm intended, she loves singing!) so I'm glad we went, but I hope they'll do the next thing a bit differently so that it will be more enjoyable for everybody. Poor Kaida was stuck coming with me because the big kids were both at activities and Donny was still at work. She was bored out of her skull and couldn't see a thing. She whined the whole time we were there, which made it even more fun for me. I couldn't blame her though, I felt like whining too. After the performance, they opened up the giant glass doors to the patio and had milk & cookies for everyone. I brought Raya a Dum-Dum since obviously milk & cookies are things she can't have. Thank goodness she likes her Dum-Dums and knows that milk & cookies would make her sick.
We took a quick picture with her teacher. She absolutely LOVES her teacher and so do I. :)

Thursday was a little less busy. Raya and I got Christmas presents ready to mail to our out-of-town family and took them to the post office. Raya wore her cape. I was totally okay with that.

Friday (12-20) was another good but busy day. I dropped Raya off at school, puttered around for a few minutes, and then got some lunch to take to Kaida at school. It was their annual Jingle Jog. They've been doing it since before Ashtyn was in kindergarten and it's always a fun thing. The kids go out on the basketball court and dance to a bunch of songs (YMCA, Macarena, the chicken dance, etc.), take a lap around the soccer fields, and then go inside to have lunch in the cafeteria that's been decorated for Christmas and to see Santa. It's separated by grades, so this year each of the kids had it at a different time and Raya had to be picked up in the middle of Cole's and had therapy during Ashtyn's. I was bummed thinking that neither of us would be there for Ashtyn's because one of us has ALWAYS gone to the Jingle Jog but Donny was able to get there in time for Cole's lunch and Ashtyn's Jingle Jog.

Kaida was SO excited for her first Jingle Jog as an actual student. She's always tagged along for Cole & Ashtyn's so she knew what she was in for and couldn't wait. Thursday night, it had started raining really hard and rained all night long and into the morning. It stopped before school started Friday but the place they usually do it at was flooded so they had to move it. It was rather chilly outside but we still had fun.
It was really fun to get to be there with just Kaida and see how happy she was. She sure does love school and that makes me happy. :)

I left Kaida's lunch a few minutes early so I could go back outside for Cole's Jingle Jog. I only got to stay for about 10 minutes though because it was time to pick Raya up for therapy. I don't remember now what food we took to feeding therapy that day but she had a pretty good day at FT. She got to try on Miss Heidi's super awesome Christmas hat too.

She had a great day with her OT. There is usually a balloon laying around in the therapy room we use and Raya goes crazy over balloons. It can be a problem because she's very easily distracted by balloons. Her new favorite game is hitting the balloon back & forth with little racquets while balancing on the inflatable mat. She does pretty well with it.

Saturday the 21st was a pretty exciting day. The 3 older kids had their first karate tournament. Donny is a 4th degree black belt and has been teaching martial arts classes for 7+ years now. He started teaching a kids' class a while back. He takes the kids to his class on Friday nights and works with them whenever they're at home & bored. :) It's been a really good activity for all of them and they love the attention they get from their dad. They all worked really hard to get ready for the tournament and it was fun to watch their hard work pay off. Each of them did a form (a sequence of punches, kicks, blocks, etc.) and they all did the sparring. Cole also did a bo form. We came home with a LOT of very large trophies and some very happy kids.

Donny and I drove separately because I was afraid I'd end up having to take Raya home before it was over. We never know how she'll do in busy, loud, chaotic environments like that. She covered her ears a lot and had some whiny, pouty moments but she did much better than I expected and we were able to stay for the whole thing. She also accidentally broke the karate guy off the top of one of Cole's trophies before we left but the tournament hosts saw it happen and saw her cry and replaced it.

After the kids had gotten cleaned up, we went out for an early dinner to celebrate. Raya brought a bag of potato chips and was pretty content eating her chips and coloring while we all ate our food. It is SOOOOOO nice to be back at that place where we can do things like go out for dinner or go to her school program or a family gathering without her getting upset about the food that everybody else is eating but is off limits to her. It has taken us a long time and a lot of work to get to this point (again) and I'm SO grateful that she is in a good place emotionally about food.


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