Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pretty days of summer


It's been the weirdest summer.  The highs have been in the 70's.  They say it's a polar vortex.  A friend of mine said it best, "I prefer my polar vortexes in the summer."  Me too.  I much prefer a cool summer to a frigid winter.  In this weather, I actually don't mind going outside at all.  
Last Tuesday, the boys wanted to play outside in the driveway.  OK.  They played and swapped out their toys, and ran crazy.  Plus it was the first time I'd gotten them all to put on their t-shirts they made in Art Camp.

So, after letting them play for a bit, Jake and I went outside to join them. 
It was a Beautiful evening! 

Christopher struck a pose.  I couldn't resist this.  

Sam is getting pretty good at bike riding too. 

Watching his brothers made Jake a little jealous.  So I looked at our options for things Jake could do. 
I gave the trike a try.  He is big enough to sit on it, and his feet dangle to the ground, but he's not strong enough to pedal.  That didn't matter much to him.  

He felt like Big Stuff sitting up on the trike like a big boy.  
I prefer this trike to any other because of the handle.  

Jacob was puzzled when Big Brother Chris took a turn giving him a gentle push.  

Oh man, all three of my boys on bikes.  
This is happening too fast.  

Eric came home and made us a wonderful dinner of grilled chicken and Ikea's swedish waffles.  I even got to eat them with lingonberry sauce.  Oh yeah.  But afterwards, I was feeling a little bloaty, and it was still so pretty outside.  


Yup, we took all the boys out for a walk. 
What a lovely summer's evening.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Maniac Monday


Did you ever just have one of those days where you don't want to go anywhere or do anything. The last week or few weeks really, have been so crazy, I didm't want to do much. So Monday ,  we stayed in,  well, except for piano lessons,  and kids played. The actually get along together....sometimes.

Jacob put himself on the shopping cart base, and wanted the brothers to push him around.  They were pretty cute.


They were so crazy, that after I went to Costco to shop with Jake alone to calm down, and Eric busted my birthday scheme for him by beating me to the mail.  These boys, they all be crazy.

The Bomb

Well, you know how I am very interested in Essential Oils now.  And they've been helping the boys and I with our digestion using a small bit of Di-Gize in olive oil (because that's what I had).  And I made them a balm of Peace and Calming for their feet right before our Chicago trip, with coconut oil and shea butter.  But it was time to try some other goodies in my starter kit.

This was Jacob last week helping me find some goodies at Joann's while brothers were at Art Camp.  One of the goodies we found were steel spray bottles.  They recommend that Essential Oils go into stainless steel or glass for storage, because they are so potent they can break down plastic.  My sister has signed up too, and both of us are very excited to make all kinds of different goodies to help our kids.  
So speaking of our kids.  When James got into town, I asked him what one thing he wanted to do, he said he wanted to go to the movies and see that new Planet of the Apes.  How very manly.  So I found myself volunteering to watch the girls so they could go to dinner and a movie.  Am I nutsy?  Yeah, a little.  Anyway, we fed the girls some meat, cheese, carrots, and they played until they started disagreeing.  So we made them (let them) watch the Lego movie, which they enjoyed.


Anyway, while they were watching Family Night, I got to making up a recipe of Essential Oil bugspray.  I mutated it from a few that I'd seen.  One used a couple oils, and another used a couple different ones.  One used salt to bind the oils, the other used witch hazel.  One even used vodka in place of witch hazel since oil and water don't entirely mix.  By mixing it with a salt and/or alcohol, the chemical properties change to allow the Essential Oils to kind of emulsify and we get a more even dispersion of oils throughout the entire solution.  I know, I sound like a chem geek.  What can I say, this is my kind of cooking, chemistry cooking!  No raw meat here!  And I am not poisoning my children with deet!

So I combined all of them and used water, epsom salts, witch hazel, and these oils.  

These were the essential oils that I used in my Oily Bug Spray:  
Lemon, Peppermint, Purification (which is a great cleansing blend), Lavender, and Palo Santo.  
Lisa lent me her Palo Santo, but I think I'm going to need to get some of my own soon. 

These were the final products, giant 12 ounce spray bottles.  
Are you ready for my fancy name, "Oily Bug Spray".  Yeah, I know, I'm so creative. What can I say, I had a yellow blanket, I named it Yelly. I had a stuffed cow, I named it Nay Nay.  My musical teddy bear was named Musical.  Chris, Sam, and Jake are really lucky.  

So after the movie was over the kids started to get at each other again.  So I sent them out to play.  
THIS TIME I spritzed them all with the new Oily Bug Spray. 
Sam especially tends to get bit in the evenings, and they swell up to the size of 50 cent pieces.
Not this time. :) 

Now if only Mommy had been so lucky.  Since I had been the one concocting the special spray, I reeked of it, I sprayed a cloud and walked into it, to cover my head and face.  But for some reason I completely forgot my legs!  So I did get 2 bites on my legs.  Duh. But then I put some spritzer on my legs to relieve it, and Bam, that worked!  God Bless Lavender and Peppermint! 

Happy 5ths!


The Julius twins turned 5 on the 7th, but we hadn't been able to see them.  By the time we saw them last Saturday at swim class they were beside themselves with joy.  This year they have really been sprouting entirely different personalities, and to prove such, the twins birthday party appealed to both of them.  For Sarah, there were all kinds of superhero references.  Her theme was Batman.  And for Kristin, there was Frozen.   But I had never been to a Frozen/Batman/swim party.  But as you can imagine, my boys would be All over that.  And it was perfect for the girls too.

Kristin was right there to welcome us when we entered.  It's a little spooky that she's just about as tall as Christopher, though there is 3 years between them.  Though since he's got his head just so, it looks like she's taller.   They are going to battle it out for a while.  These girls grow fast! 

Sarah loves me.  She comes up to me lots and lots and tells me so.  It always makes my day.  Although she's getting so big that she doesn't call me Kapfleen anymore.  I've upgraded to Caffee.  I think I may have even heard Cathy once.  I shall be sad when she just calls me Cathy, but she had better never stop her random hugging and telling me she loves me.  Because I have gotten quite accustomed to her loving, and don't want to give it up.  

Shortly after our arrival, the boys got to suit up and go out back for the swim party portion of the Birthday Party!  

Sam, Sarah, and Rachel (the littles) took to the pool. 
They kept the splashing to a minimum and were having a fine time.  

And Chris, Em, Kristin, and Mary, (the bigs) wanted to start water balloon fights.  

The water balloon fights then took to the pool.  
Not too sure about all that.  But the kids seemed to have a lot of fun.  

The wee ones, Jake and John, stayed back, observed the insanity, and decided it most wise to stay by their daddies.  Good call boys.  These kids be crazy. 

Eventually the water ballooning stopped, and the kids created their own whirlpool.  

Then it was Time for Cake! 

Dueling cupcake cakes: Frozen and Batman

Happy Birthday Kristin and Sarah! 

Then it was time to blow out the candles.  
Kristin got hers going ok, and she made her wish.  

But the wind started to pick up, and Sarah wanted some help blowing hers out.  
She got pretty upset when it seemed the wind wanted to do the job. 

We brought her in and she got to eat her special batman cupcake indoors. 

Jacob has this exact same shirt - fancy that!

It was a very Batman birthday for Sarah. 

And a very Frozen birthday for Kristin.  

We got the girls some scooters, that transfer from 3 wheelers to 2 wheelers, in their favorite colors.  
Kathleen just sent me this picture too  - of the girls breaking in their gift from us. :) 

The scooters were a smash hit - and it's pretty wonderful that they are 5!  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Stephens Park


Friday the 11th was the big boys last day at their Art Camp.  And they'd had lunch, so after I picked them up, Christopher asked me ever so calmly, "Mommy, since we are all done at Art Camp, may we celebrate by going to the park before naps?"  Wow.  I just don't know what to do with him when he approaches me so reasonably.  He was very understanding that Jake was going to need to nap soon.  But some cool fresh air is good for us.  So of course.  On the way there, I was discussing which park to attend.   I mentioned Stephens Park, one I'd never been to, which was nestled in on a quiet street.  We pulled up next to it, to "check it out", and the boys immediately got out, wanting to play.  We'd never been here, and it's a small, quiet, park.  But we were the only ones there, so we were definitely avoiding the crowds.  I liked that!

Christopher hopped right on the playground equipment and commenced to run wild.  

Sam wanted to swing, and he would all day if he could figure out how to get himself up there, and get those legs pumping on their own. I remember Kindergarten being a turnpoint for Chris and swings, his desire really picked up, and it was by summer following kindergarten the he figured it out.  I have no doubt Sam will figure out swings this year too!  He loves to swing!

Even Jacob climbed right up and started to play.  
Looks like he has no fear of playground equipment.  


Luckily, he stays close to the middle, and I don't need to worry about him falling off edges, especially when his big brothers are around.  He's starting to enjoy small slides now too.  

Three times the sweetness.  

Yeah, they talked Mommy into getting on the swingset too. 


I hadn't swung (swang?) like that in a long time.  Really got my juices flowing.   
And all the boys were giggling like mad.  It really is the most beautiful sound in the world.

Like I said, Stephens is a small, quiet park.  But it was perfect for us.  
We will definitely be back! 

Project: Daddy in a Box


I'm still taking a while getting all caught up on blogs.  I'm so far behind.  But at least we have really good reasons.  A big one happened last week!  My brother in law finally came home.  Now the last time he returned from being deployed, Lisa had a whole great thing set up at the airport, and there were people, and I cried, and still do when I watch that video.  This time she wanted to do something different.

My sister had a special idea, she called it Project: Daddy in a Box.  She wanted me to have a box show up on the doorstep with James inside.  I had a vision of it being giftwrapped, but the refrigerator box I found was just too big for that.  I did buy paper, in an effort to do that, but my helper and I found out it didn't work.

While I was messing with my roll of wrapping paper, trying to tape it down, and realizing I only had enough for 1 1/3 sides of my box.  Someone stole my scissors.  So I had to snap his picture before taking them back.  At least he was holding them by the dangerous end.  

I picked up the boys from Art Camp, and we went to lunch at the airport.  They did a great job, eating, and behaving while we waited for Uncle James to arrive.  Then we drove to Aunt Lisa's apartment.  We had planned on parking, and hiding behind bushes and things, but when we texted Li to let her know we were here, she said, Meet me by the trash can!  So she came out with some trash.  Of course, the girls would never had expected that.  

After they got a quick welcome in, I put James in the box.  And went to bang on the door.   
Each of my boys had a job.  Chris's job was to Say Nothing, and hide behind a bush.  Sam's job was to Say Nothing and keep Jacob quiet.  i told them if they did their jobs, then I would take them for ice cream afterwards.  I was reaching and there was a Dairy Queen right around the corner Of course, as soon as I got out of sight, Jacob lost his mind, so we decided to leave him in the car with the car on, with Sam.   But both my boys were so determined to do their jobs.  


So when Annie and Charlie came out, and saw Chris, he ran.  
He got so upset he started to cry.  He knew he wasn't supposed to say 1 word until he saw Uncle James done hugging Annie and Charlie.  That was the limit.  And he didn't.  Instead, when his cover was blown, rather than say a word, he ran.  And the girls went after him  instead of going for the box.  

So we had to Redirect, and get the girls focused on the box.  When Annie asked why we were there, I said, Go Look at the Box!   So they did.  


Then I got the video going again, but there's a 2 second delay...and unfortunately, in my opinion, the video lost the most important 2 seconds.  But Christopher did manage to capture a couple photos while I was videotaping.  He's actually got a great photographic eye, but can be easily distracted.  

This was one Christopher took.  
I love how purely happy Annie was to have her Daddy home. 

The girls have their Daddychair back! 

Welcome Home! 

And the entire West family is back together again. 

Well, even though Chris and I gave away our positions (we could never be in the army), I told him I'd still take him for ice cream.  He did his job, and so did I, those girls are just Too Darn Smart!  

Well, when word got out we were going for ice cream, everybody wanted to go.  
So we all did.  :)

Aww, the mooshies and the squooshies!

We took over the Dairy Queen.  
The kids had some fun eating ice cream.  Turns out Jake likes chocolate...just like Ma. 

Like it Orlando?  It's Autumn Sunrise.  
I promised her if she let me take this picture of her being silly, I'd give it this caption.
I loved her hair with the flower in it, very Billie Holiday or something.   

The rest of them thinking, what are we gonna do with that girl?   I know, I've been around her silliness for years, but now you've got plenty of time together again to figure it out.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Moving on


On our way back from Art Class on Wednesday, we saw our friend Xander from the down the street out riding his bike.  Sam and Chris had already eaten lunch at Camp.  They get to pack lunches all week long and eat at the school cafeteria right before they come home.  But Jake and I hadn't.  And we were hungry.  And the boys asked me so nicely if they could go riding with their friend.  I had to cave.  

This photo is them all riding down the street.  I told them to ride where I could see them if I needed to yell.  They said they were going to ride to his house, I just figured they'd ride back and forth.  But as we finished our lunch, I realized they weren't coming back to our driveway, and it was almost naptime.  

They couldn't hear me, I figured they were at their friend's house playing, so I got Jake in the car, and we went chasing down boys.  This was the first time I have had to do that.  And actually, I didn't mind much at all.  Honestly, I was very happy that they were off riding bikes with friends just like I used to do.  I remember being Sam's age, and banging on my friend Annie's door at 9 am on a Saturday morning, because her parents told me I had to wait until 9 on Saturdays to Play, and that was practically agony.  My boys don't have to deal with that kind of agony.  This summer, they have proven themselves pretty trustworthy as long as they stay together, I don't mind letting them go to their friend's house.  But I wanted them to stay out where I could see and hear.  They didn't exactly do that.  I had to go chase them down.  Close, but not quite.   

 By the time I found them, they were on their way back home.  But apparently, Chris was riding his bike too fast, and popped the chain, so I loaded his bike up in my car, (just like my Mom how many eons ago!) and he ran home after his friend.  Sam is getting better and better chasing after his big brother on his bike with training wheels.  It'll be interesting to see who gets off training wheels first!

So, for not being entirely obedient and staying where I could here, I 'forced' them to do some reading and room cleanup.   Fine by me.  In the evening, it was time for footrubs.  They love their oily footrub time. 

 Chris loves footy pajamas, but they make footrubs and oil application rather difficult.  So this is a funny picture about Chris picking the bedtime story, and reading it right after his oils got put on.  The kids love the Peace and Calming balm that Lisa and I made last week.  And so here is Chris read the bedtime to Sam (and Jake). Chris chose a story about Jesus.  And I loved listening to him read it.  Now I love to hear him read pretty much anytime, but this was particularly humorous, because he was prounouncing some things pretty funny.  He was reading about how Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the Pacifier Dinner, and Judas turned Jesus into Punch-us Pie-late.   Punch us.  Ha Ha!