Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Salon Noel

That's the name we came up with last night for Mikayla's Salon - it has a nice ring to it, don't you think? (Noel is her middle name, as her due date was Christmas Day).

This is the sign I noticed mid-afternoon yesterday - pointing into our living room.

As you can see, Mikayla accumulated quite a supply of hair styling products for her salon.

As many moms can attest to, sometimes there are times that you just really do not want to engage in the playful plans of your children. Due to fatigue, or busy-ness, or lack of imagination, sometimes it's just a lot of work to participate. However, this situation was NOT one of those times. In fact, I was so ready for a little TLC that I "suffered" through her playtime for over an hour. She even had a television in her salon, so we bonded over a recent Disney Channel movie. Unfortunately, my desire to give her attention meant that John's dinner wasn't prepared when he walked in - and he had to put it together himself (from the fridge) - but, that's the sacrifice I was willing to make. =)

I was looking mighty glamorous, huh? The only thing I'd change if she offered her services again is pre-washing and CONDITIONING my hair before she begins. My hair was on "day 3" of styles since washing (I have VERY dry hair, so I can get away with a week if I wanted to before I'd see any trace of oil.....not that I do). So, I had originally left it naturally curly - with product - then curling ironed it - with lots of product - then woke up, and added a few extra curls - with more product. So, as she used her brush to tear through my "mane" it was not comfy at all. Instead, she did a lot of thinning (which is also okay because I do have a lot of hair, but I certainly couldn't afford that "treatment" too often). Next time, I'll prepare better......and yes, I do hope there's a next time. =)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Summer Memories Are All About

Since we had so much fun with our Fathers' Day celebrations last year, we decided to delay the "honoring" with Dad a week so we could get everyone together to repeat it.

So, we began our festivities at "Roaring Rapids" - a really nifty pizza parlor right on the Willamette River. The kids love it because it has a vintage carousel that runs about every half hour.

On this gathering, I asked my dad to tell a story that testifies of a miracle that transpired in his life when he was about the boys' age. I really need to take the time to detail it myself for this blog as it is so remarkable, but it left the kids' open-mouthed in wonder as to what happened.....(well, I guess you can tell Ellie wasn't really transfixed, but we'll have him retell it again at a later time....)

Just down the parking lot is "Camp Putt". My apologies for the picture quality - we were so bummed we left John's camera at home. But, hey, that blue sky is not embellished......seriously the best day of the year so far - from start to finish so gorgeous and just perfect in terms of summer-time temps......

See, you can spot the pizza parlor in the background. Towards the 12th hole or so, the girls (Nati and Ellie) abandoned "us moms" (including my mom) - they went on ahead and cruised through to the finish. So, we played around on our own - including watching Michele juggle three of the golf balls......Mom was impressed. =)

Among the guys group, Michael and John were competing....they were neck and neck through most of the course, but eventually Michael pulled out the win. Sorry, Hon, you know I'm proud of you no matter what!

After that strenuous bout of exercise, we returned to the house for some dessert goodness I prepared yesterday and this morning. This is a picture of the gingersnap crusted cheesecake that I made - with blueberry spice sauce or raspberry sauce as the topping options.

And, this is a re-enactment of the strawberry-rhubarb pie I made earlier this year. I was told that was Dad's favorite kind of pie, so I planned to make it. I did not plan, however, to have to go to four different stores to find the frozen rhubarb necessary to make it. Gosh, I must really love my daddy.... =)

So, after doing a little bit of this (actually, this is a pic of Michele, and not me - but we look the same and that's about where I was sleeping this afternoon) -

.....we decided to let the boys pull some babysitting duty and take off as six "adults" to see this movie - "Knight and Day"

There was a whole lot of "killing" in this movie - but very little of it graphic or overly violent. There were about 3 bad words, and that was it as far as any negatives.... This was the summer sort of movie I long for every year - the ultimate for me - action, adventure, romance and light-hearted comedy. Really, just the sort of ideal movie that makes going to a theater all that you'd hoped for. I LOVED IT - and frankly, might kind of like Tom Cruise again (he'd gotten a little too lofty for his britches in my opinion over the last several years.....). As I sat between Michele and John - with Mom and Dad on the other side of Michael, it just seemed like such the ultimate conclusion to such a phenomenal day.

Finally, when we returned from the movie, we re-started the sprinklers that had been turned off for the duration of the week while the tent was up. The kids donned their swimsuits and had at it. I had to catch the moment on the camera as it was so special to see them play together doing something so simple and sweetly "summer".

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Week Has Come to an End

Ah, the sweet sound of sibling rivalry has returned to our house, which means that everyone is home and reunited again.

We picked the girls up from camp at 3 today - and while they were overjoyed to see us and give us big hugs - they were also full of total praise for their experience at overnight camp. Their cabin won the night game - which was a huge accomplishment (according to them), they loved both their counselors, all the girls in their cabin were sweet - and the food was "pretty" good. Mikayla admitted that she cried just once, last night - but her sweet counselor, "Bunny", had her lay down next to her, played with her hair - and just as we recommended, that was all it took. Given how many amazing reports we've gotten, and the fact that I've hardly seen my daughter since they got home, I guess I'm glad to hear that she did legitimately miss us. =)

So, huge props and thanks to Camp Harlow - how awesome that all the girls were so happy - as well as exhausted. A sure sign that everyone did their job well!

As for the boys, I can't say they are necessarily overjoyed to have their sisters' return. I think they could have handled another week without them - and the freedom without having to share.

We tried to make the best of our last day with them. Michele and I woke them up in the tent pretending to shoot them and making lazer gun sound effects. That was the plan, to take them to play Lazer Tag with us. However, as it turned out, we never made it there. Instead, we hiked Spencer's Butte, and after much deliberation, ended up back at the house with some one on one time with mother/son. Unfortunately for Traig, his time involved studying and being quizzed by his mom for a Hunter Safety Course he's attending tonight and tomorrow with Michael. I felt bad, because Brayden and I spent our time playing the new "Toy Story 3" video game. We purchased it for me, but he's been the one playing it. So, today was the first time I've had a go at it, with his tutelage. These days, I have no where near the skill he does on video games (maybe when he was 5, I might have been better), so when we play multi-player (dual screen) - sometimes I get a little behind, or die far too fast. Brayden is super-patient with me, but occasionally, I lose focus, and decide to aim for him. Today, we both were dying in laughter as my "Buzz Lightyear" was picking up Brayden's "Buzz Lightyear" and throwing him into a doorway. I love these role-reversal experiences and the priceless laughter and fun they create......

All in all, a great week. I kind of like this early summer camp experience as it challenges us to begin embracing the summer fun with gusto that much earlier.

Okay - on to pictures. This first one was a little friend we saw on our way to the trailhead.

I had John's camera with his new lens and had some fun playing around with it. "Give me a pose, Michele".....

"Just stand there with your back to me, Traig"

Every time I climb Spencer's Butte, I forget just how steep that last stretch is. If the pictures of me look like I've got a sunburn on the face, let me assure you that it is all a matter of being so flushed from exertion.......

I love these pics of Sydney. It's not often we get the opportunity to snap shots of her running full-on, with that big ol' tongue hanging out. Oh, how she loves these hikes!

On to Harlow pictures. Clearly the marine cloud layer cleared off and we scored that bright sunshine we've been treasuring this week by the afternoon.

Here's the cabin group:

Some last minute autographs on the camp t-shirt with Christina, Erica, and Ellie......

These two pictures showcase the adorable counselors Mikayla was blessed with - first up, "Stitches" - and then with her and "Bunny".

And, the ever-present "Phoenix" who was our spy to tell us just how great the girls were, and how much fun they truly had.

And, a final pic with "Dave the Wave". Fitting we had one at the beginning and one at the end....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Camping Out

So, after the swimming pool adventures, we asked if we could keep Andrew overnight. Given the special circumstances of just having the three boys, we asked John if he'd be willing to pull out the brand new tent we got (last year's ended up in the dumpster at the campground as it was literally falling apart) - and set it up in the back yard.

As a side note to explain this picture, I have to point out that our son has been over the top happy in these days (actually weeks) of late... Unless it's an issue with Mikayla, he's quite the puppy-playful kid these days. However, this, mixed with a bit of an inattentive ADHD issue makes him a little hard to control. So, by the time the Concerta had worn off, he's got his two best buddies with him, and he's giddy about an overnight camp-out - yeah, just not an especially focused helper for Dad....hence the "use your heads, boys" expression from John. =)

This little gadget is a projector I got for nearly 90% off at Kohls. Maybe not a "necessity item" for the Rileys, but for the price, it was worth it. John set it up with a sheet to give the kids a movie theater experience within the tent. Are those boys spoiled, or what?

The verdict this morning (when they woke up much earlier than we'd hoped) that it was a lot of fun and very cozy. Thankfully, I remembered to have John turn off the sprinklers at about midnight last night - that would have made it slightly less cozy around 5am..... ha ha!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I just accessed this cool new feature that Camp Harlow is offering this year. For a few extra dollars, you can log onto this e-net feature, and send emails to your camper (they are printed out and distributed during mail time) - and look at pictures taken of campers each day. To my pleasant surprise, three of the 25 pictures had our girls in it. Yeah! Certainly, the smiles tell me they are having fun, but it's good to see them taken today, (different clothes than yesterday!) - which tells me Mikayla made it through the night without lasting trauma!

Day Two of Bonding with the Boys

Today we thought we'd do a little archeological dig with the boys.....nah - just killing time at the nearby park before the city's main pool opens up.

We coerced Amy to bring Andrew and Jackson to join us (as she's in the same boat as us with Christina at camp with the girls). Love those kids.

The final destination was this pool - with this inflatable obstacle course, pretty cool, huh?

Okay, I'm gonna admit, I never jumped in the pool with the boys, but I think Brayden forgave me and had a great time with his best buddies, nonetheless. =)