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Being happy and staying busy

The week before school got out, we had a little family meeting and made lists of things we wanted to do this summer. It was a pretty long list, and we made it with the goal in mind of doing things to help us learn and grow. We also made it with the understanding that we may not do everything on the list, but at least it gave us a lot of ideas to choose from. I am happy to report that so far, we are doing pretty good with knocking things off of that list. I feel at times like I am running on nothing but fumes, but I am happy.

I decided that we would need to stay busy over the summer in order to keep everybody from fighting and bothering each other, so that's what we've tried to do. Really, it doesn't take much effort with all the things that have been on the schedule. I feel like we've been constantly on the go for the last month since school got out. We've gone to the summer movies, done lunch at one of the schools that serves lunch over the summer, gone to the library, had church activities, taken swimming lessons, gone swimming in the neighborhood pool, gone to therapy, gone grocery shopping, had doctor appointments for 3 of the 5 children, played computer games, played card games, practiced taking turns on the iPad, played with friends, babysat a kid or two, and all sorts of other busy but fun things. I've tried to find opportunities to serve and help other people wherever we can, and also practiced the art of knowing when enough is enough and have allowed myself to not volunteer for things that I felt would push me over my limits without feeling guilty about it. Not a week has gone by that we didn't have to go somewhere every single day. It's exhausting but it's worth the exhaustion.

People often ask me how Raya is doing. It's a hard question to answer because I sometimes don't know how much people really want to know about how she's doing. Overall, she's doing great. GI-wise, she's struggling, and that leads to struggles with sleep. Both of those problems lead to struggles with behavior. There is a recurring theme of Raya seeking control over whatever aspects of her life she can find to exert control over, and we are trying to help her find constructive ways to do that. In the process, we deal with a lot of meltdowns over things that really shouldn't be a big deal, and would not be a big deal to most people. It takes a lot of energy to handle her meltdowns the way I know I need to. Sometimes I want to high five myself when she pulls herself out of a really bad meltdown and we talk about it and she apologizes for the behaviors that she knows were not okay. I also want to high five her. I know how hard she has had to work to become who she is today, and I think she is an awesome kid.

Anyway, here are a few pictures from the last week or so:
Friday evening snuggle time while Daddy & the big kids are gone
I don't care what anyone else thinks or says, I am 100% head over heels in love with this girl and her recently-acquired  thumb sucking habit. She melts my heart and I just can't get enough of her!
After about 3 1/2 months of her not having any way to soothe herself, that precious little thumb has become a lifesaver for all of us and she and I have both gotten more sleep because of it.

This picture is one of my new favorites of Raya and Cole. She had popped her pump bag while the kids were dancing in the living room, so she was stuck on the couch because the backpack got soaked with formula and I didn't want her dragging her pump around without being in something. I had no sympathy because she did it by flopping down on her back on the couch ("but Mommy, it was part of my dance moves!") and she has been warned not to do that. Anyway, she was bored and didn't want to read books by herself and the next thing I knew, she and Cole were snuggled up and reading Green Eggs and Ham together. It was so sweet and cute that they more or less redeemed themselves from most of the bickering they've done all summer long. He was reading to her but he was also telling her some of the words so she could "read" the book out loud too, and they were finishing each other's sentences and just having a great time together. It was one of those moments you'd like to be able to bottle up and keep forever.

At 4 months and 1 day old, Piper started trying to hug toys to hold onto them.
We visited Donny's parents on Father's Day and Piper got to try out one of Grandpa's saddles
She liked it and kept trying to eat the saddle horn.

This week, Piper had her 4 month check-up. I am slowly but surely getting used to having short appointments with nothing but normal stuff to talk about. She is comfortably in the 25th percentile for weight and is maintaining her growth curve, so I am happy. She is also quite possibly the most cooperative of our kids with vaccines. She swallowed the rotavirus oral vaccine without vomiting it back up or choking on it, didn't make a peep with the first shot, and only cried a tiny bit with the second shot. Being that it was the tdap shot, I totally understood why she cried a little. That shot hurts. She barely cried at all though, and even Cole said he was impressed and proud of her for being so tough. :)

Like I said, I just can't get enough of snuggling with this baby!

Week 2 of swimming lessons: we are no longer afraid to put our face in the water but we are still trying our darndest to negotiate our way out of doing anything that we don't want to do, and have absolutely zero attention span.

The big kids thought they were so funny putting goggles on Piper :)
We've been testing out different ways to waterproof the G tube. When we've finished all of our experimenting, I will do a post about it. Raya has thoroughly enjoyed having me have another reason to take pictures of her.

She is a much happier baby now than she was a month or two ago and has become a much better napper!

It's not until you have a child with developmental/motor delays that you appreciate the sight of a 4 month old reaching equally with both hands to touch a toy at midline. Raya did not even know she HAD 2 hands at 4 months old. More on this subject in a future post.

Piper disappeared a couple days ago and I found her on Kaida's bed with the big kids. They were playing with her and reading to her and just having the best time with their baby sister. :) Aside from the fact that they had her on the top bunk with them, it was adorable.

In the past week, Piper has gone from not noticing or caring about toys at all, to reaching towards them, hugging them, and is now starting to try to grab them with her hands. It is so fun to watch her learn!
Today was a pleasant but busy day too. I normally go back to sleep for a little while after I wake up and pump first thing in the morning but today I couldn't because I was babysitting my friend's little girl who has a GJ tube. I just love these little tubie buddies of ours. We are truly blessed to have so many that live close to us. We had her from 8:00 until about 4. Thankfully it was uneventful. The only thing that happened was a brief moment of panic when Raya pointed to a wet spot on the front of the couch and asked me what it was. I knew it was probably formula and decided the quickest way to find the source would be to narrow down which girl it came from. They are not on the same formula so all it took was one little sniff of the couch to find that it was Raya that had somehow leaked. I never did find the source of it but it made me laugh. There's always something to laugh about!


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