Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a year!

Happy New Year to all our friends and family,

The latest polls show the majority of Americans are glad to see 2009 go, but the 4 Webbs are in that minority who thought the year was "good" or better. I describe 2009 as the year of foundations. We built the foundation for Easton and Layla's learning. We strengthened our spiritual foundation through several deep studies and serving others. We reworked the foundation of our marriage through some very positive experiences and understandings. As far as I can tell, all other foundations or what we perceive as foundations are not worth the time and effort in comparison.

I'm adding a short, grainy video clip strictly for the value of the audio. Easton's vocabulary is incredible for a 23 month old.

video

Easton and I are outside because looking at the moon through the sliding glass door just isn't good enough! Easton learned the concept of moon a long time ago. However, he recently discovered the meaning of "reach it". When he put the two together and sweetly asked for daddy to lift him up high enough to reach the moon, I was speechless.

The fact that I hesitated and actually spent brain power trying to think of how I can make it happen for him shows how much I am willing to do anything for my boy. And I mean anything... Also, I blanked on how to explain the concept of distance in a way he would understand there is no way humanly possible to reach out and touch the moon. The best I could tell him was, "you need to get a space shuttle, a space suit (like Buzz Lightyear), and become very smart so you can be an astronaut". He paused and said, "OK!"

Christmas picture comparison – Last year at this time I snapped one of my all-time favorite pictures of the twins. This year I wanted to imitate that picture and setting for comparison’s sake. Last year they were in Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits. This year we didn’t bother with outfits because of their propensity to stain and destroy clothing. Those novelty outfits are not meant to survive the kind of abuse Easton and Layla give to their clothes. Last year in front of the Thomas’ Christmas tree:


And here is this year in front of the Thomas’ Christmas tree:


Half-marathon – Kendra is planning to run the half-marathon (13 miles) next month. She is continuing to train during our vacation and runs with her friend, Laura. Go wife!


Mommy is doing a great job of staying disciplined so that she can reach her goal. She has a dream of running 13 miles and enjoys the feeling of pounding the pavement. I do not. The only reason I ever run is if I am being chased.

Teaching how to whisper – Over the past few weeks there have been situations where one or both of the twins are awake while someone else is sleeping up stairs. We began tossing in the idea of whispering just to see if they could figure it out. One morning Layla and I were the only ones awake so I took a short video clip of a whisper lesson. You have to turn the volume up to hear, but at the end she sweetly whispers, “I love you daddy”. That just melts my heart in a way words can’t describe.

video

Trust of a child – One can clearly see faith and trust in action by watching how a child interacts with parents and grandparents. Here is Layla leaping off the top of the slide into Oma’s arms with no hesitation or holding back. She bails off the top with a big smile and confidence Oma will catch her.


Layla is becoming more girly all the time as Kendra exposes her to things like bows in her hair, lip gloss (which is really edible chapstick) and painting her toe nails. I’m excited about how she has enough hair to clip the bow…


She's my little princess, for sure.

See you soon!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Woody and Buzz

Greetings friends and family,

The discussion I had today regarding "transition kids" is leading to a more in-your-face example of how much I am not in control of my kids. Some kids, like Layla, require transitioning between activities or during times of change. For example, you have to say, "Ok, we are going to stay for another 5 minutes and then we will leave!"

I believe marriage as well as kids are supposed to teach people how not to control and instead learn to accept people for who they are. The question is: does parenting create or enable a child to become a "transition kid"?

Based on what I have learned so far I think the answer is no. Easton is so easy going that he has no problem stopping one activity and moving on to the next. We say, "OK, Easton, we are done with the park, time to go eat!" and he will calmly seek out the car and happily look forward to the next activity.

However, Layla throws a fit so boisterous she's been nominated for an Oscar this year. What we learned is she needs several words of pre-warning that the situation is about to change. Another data point in this area is my sister's son who is similar in this description as a "transition kid", but her other two kids are not.

Other than a little fussiness I consider the past few days to be successful. The movie "Toy Story" is a big hit for the twins and they routinely ask for "woody and buzz" by name. The day after Christmas we gave Easton And Layla the movie-sized dolls as a belated Christmas gift. You can see how excited they were.


They were amazed at Buzz Lightyear's wings popping out as they did in the movie. Kendra does really well, but my attempt to imitate Tom Hanks for Woody's voice is atrocious. I need to work on my passion, for sure.


We took an adventure to visit the locally famous Dovewood Court. Last year when we did this Easton said his first word, "lights!" after we finished walking through the neighborhood. This year they were chatter boxes and we did our best to keep them from touching every light and display along the way.


Easton is Oma's fan club president and as long as she is near (a.k.a. holding him) then all is right in the world no matter what is going on around him.

Oma + lights equal happiness.


The next day our main adventure was to go feed the ducks. Oma and Opa recommended a large park on the American river. Boy, were they right to pick there! That was duck (and goose) heaven. We had a small bag of bread and a huge flock of birds. I was most proud of how Easton and Layla were brave enough to interact with those large fowl.


With the help of oma, Layla was even brave enough to let the big goose take bread from her hand!


There were other gull's there and the twins continually said, "mine! mine! mine!" as a reference to the Sea Gulls in the movie, Nemo.


The fog and rain are exciting for all 4 of us Webbs because it is rare for us to experience it. During the light mist of the evening, Easton stopped in the middle of the street and placed both hands down on the ground like a celebrity making a hand print on the walk of the stars. He stood up, turned his hands over to see them dripping with water, and giggled like a mad scientist discovering a new chemical. What a thrill to see toddlers discovering the world around them and thriving from the little things in life.

See you soon!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

The 4 Webbs wish everyone an awesome Christmas day and weekend.


To say we experienced "family time" over the past few days is the understatement of the year. Having a few days off work (so far) is giving me the chance to have quality time with the twins and much more is expected as I take vacation days to have more adventures.

This next picture shows what happens when Daddy is left alone a home with the twins during lunch time and tries to capture the moment in a picture. I moved Easton and Layla's chairs close together, crouched down between them and said, "put your head on daddy's head!"


They must have thought I said, "put your HAND on daddy's head." Realizing the mis-queue I took the picture anyway and it turned out special enough on its own.

Christmas eve was special as the 4 Webbs shared it with Kendra's immediate family (minus her brother Logan and adding Great Grandma, GG). Layla is more entertaining every day with how she puts on a show for whoever is around to watch. I told her to show us her cute face and her head tilts further and further all the time.


The gifts for the twins were amazing and they had a blast tearing through the wrapping paper and playing with all the toys and gifts. I've been trying to figure out for months now what instrument to get them as a first taste of music. The elecrtic piano is a big hit, but we'll have to work on "gentle hands" instead the forceful hand banging we experienced last night.


Uncle Casey showered the twins with several winners and one I know they will use to its fullest extent is the gargantuan Tonka dump truck. here is Layla sitting in the dumper.


While playing at a park last month, Easton and Layla convinced some boy at the local park to let them play with his Tonka dump truck and they loved it! Nothing is more exciting to a toddler than loading and unloading so I am certain there will be many more pics and playtime in the future involving the dump truck.

I'm not sure what the thing on Layla's head is called, but she looks like an angel with it on her head.


No doubt this will be part of the items we've collected for a dress-up box. After a full day of family madness in the house Easton and Layla hit their limit for staying awake. Oma was more than happy to pose for the official Night Before Christmas picture while cuddling with the twins.


Christmas morning was not too exciting since we opened gifts the night before, but Easton and Layla were able to dig through their stockings to find Mommy's hidden gems.


Easton was still half asleep after rumaging through the stocking, but even behind his thumb sucking it is easty to see his sweet little smile.


After stockings and breakfast we packed up the family and drove over to Aunt Suzie and Uncle Jeff's house. Easton was amazed by all the cows we passed in the open fields on the way their. He pushed his sunglasses up in order to get a better view of the herd of cows up ahead.


Our morning at Aunt Suzie's house can only be described as structured chaos. Cousins and nieces and nephews were hustling through the house filtering between the groups of people standing around talking. We decided to join the family outside and luckily we practiced on the try-cycle at home because Oma found great success pushing around the street.


Layla was less interested in anything with wheels and focused on the relationship building aspect with her free time. After meeting her cousin, Rowan, for the first time, she did her best to become instant BFFs including (but not limited to) good old-fashioned hugs.


The 4 Webbs headed home, but realized too late that we had no house key to Oma and Opa's house. Since they were several minutes behind us on the road home we parked in front of the house and wandered through the neighborhood... With our sunglasses on, of course!


This is what Christmas in California looks like (for those of you who are snowed in or have seen any temperature in the single digits lately). Layla looks like a movie star!


We are so blessed and almost every day Kendra and I say to each other how much we want the twins to stay in this stage of life forever. OK, I could do without diapers, but other than that I am soaking up their love even as they drain the energy out of my body just trying to keep up with them.

See you soon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

bundled and smiling

Merrrrrrry Christmas!

Thanks to our friends and family it feels more like Hanukkah. The twins are opening gifts every day as opposed to one big Christmas morning event. We are excited because now they have even more of a variety of toys to play with here at Oma's house.

Each day we do our best to get Easton and Layla out of the house for some outdoor activities. Some days are easier than others depending on the weather. When it is 115 degrees outside in Arizona there aren't many ways to enjoy the great outdoors. However, here in California even though some days are chilly and rainy (mid 50's for day time highs) we can still bundle up and head out to the park. I'm sure this picture will end up on my laptop's wallpaper sooner rather than later.


Kendra found (or remembered from years gone by) a park near by where there are several huge wooden structures for kids to play on and around. They are so big Easton said, "house, daddy... house" as we walked towards the play area from the car.


Kendra was in charge of keeping up with Layla as she ran through the passage ways making friends with all the little girls. Even though they were a little older than Layla, she did a great job of keeping up with them and still maintaining manners.


The park experience was the highlight of the day for me. Mostly because it turned out 100 times better than the McDonald's PlayLand experience last week.

We had the privilege of hosting dinner with Kendra's grandparents. It was a full evening of great conversation and it's been a long time since we've been able to get together in such a small gathering. The twins loved and hugged on both of them before heading to bed at the appointed hour.


They brought cute stockings with a book in each one along with some shiny wrapping paper. Guess what intrigued Easton the most about the gift? Yep, the wrapping paper...


As a break from the norm, we spent the evening at a Bible study with Oma and Opa's group... without the twins.

Kendra convinced me to allow Oma's friend's daughter, Sammy, baby sit for us. As you can imagine I had a difficult time accepting the plan to leave my two precious babies with a 13 year old whom I've never met. Kendra's confidence gave me the courage to agree and I'm happy to say everything worked out wonderfully. Thanks, Sammy!


That makes her the only the second non-adult we have trusted to baby sit Easton and Layla since they were born.

On another previous evening we stopped by and spent time with the Jakins' whose grandkids entertained the twins and vice versa. T.J. brought out the whoopee cushion. I am here to tell you, there is still comedic value and laughs to be had from the age-old gag of the whoopee cushion. Layla and Easton took turns stomping on it until it lay lifeless and empty on the floor.


Then T.J. would fill it up again with air and repeat the cycle until it was time to leave.

Easton's verbal skills took a huge leap over the past couple of weeks and here you see Oma listening intently as he explains the physics concepts of String theory.


OK, maybe it wasn't String theory. More than likely he was saying something like, "Christmas lights outside, Oma!"

He also recently discovered his singing voice and occasionally he'll participate in the nursery rhymes and fun songs Kendra made up. Easton's shyness is waning and his confidence is starting to build. He's learning how to express himself better day by day. One thing he always has and continues to do very well is: Relax! He leans his head on his hands and snuggles up in the blanket next to Layla for a new episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.


I still haven't heard why GG's authentic hat ended up on Layla's head, but here is Layla showing her super smile while wearing GG's hat from the 1950's. It is in excellent condition and looks extremely cute on Layla's head even though it is quite a bit too big.


The most exciting part of the upcoming weekend is my time away from work so I can join in the fun everyone is having with the twins each day while I've been working the day away.

See you soon!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

safe travels

Merry Christmas friends and family,

Apparently the rest of the country has outlawed the use of the word Christmas so here on the 4Webb's blog we'll use that as our greeting for the rest of the year. Just exercising my freedom of speech. Ah, sweet freedom. I'll avoid my soapbox regarding the current effort to push Jesus out of America, but just know I'm not happy about it one bit.

There are many things to be happy about so I'll spend my time focused on those instead.

Sometimes not knowing how to do something is better than partly knowing. This is where the statement "ignorance is bliss" comes from. In the morning it is common to find Easton sitting up in bed reading or talking across the room to Layla. However, Layla usually jumps up and down in her crib loudly singing or screaming Easton. Also, the longer we leave her awake in the crib, the more likely it is to find her clothing in some state of disarray. She figured out how to unzip her pajamas, but hasn't figured out how to take them all the way off. She also figured out how to take her shirt off... sort of.


Easton thought it was very humorous. His eyes are purposefully closed as he laughed at Layla's shirt incident.


The trip:

The drive to NorCal was safe and uneventful (whew). We started the trip by singing Old MacDonald and Psalty songs and eventually had to resort to watching a video. that lasted until dinner time where I fell apart. The only good thing to come from the McDonald's trip is that now I know the play area is NOT for kids under 3 years old. We revved up Easton and Layla so they would be excited about the play area when we arrived. However, after taking their shoes off and running around it became clear they were not big enough to climb up into the vertical tunnels which led to the suspended passages. Layla cried because she wanted to follow the other kids. Easton cried because he was starving. I fell apart because the entire McDonalds was disgustingly dirty and the patrons looked like half of them were homeless.

Kendra returned with a receipt... not food, just a receipt because they were slow behind the counter. That pushed me into a whole new state of panic because now I have two kids running around the dirty play area with no shoes on... and no food to lure them away to a table. I decided to wait in line for the food and get it "to go" so Kendra led the kids to the car while I went to the counter to find out how long it was going to take for us to get the food. After 10 minutes of being ignored by every employee behind the counter I just left. And now for the happy part. Across the street was (drum roll please)... Denny's! The waitress had two bowls of Mac-N-Cheese on our table within 2 minutes of sitting down at the clean table. That moment was the highlight of the trip. The failed attempts to play in the play area, acquire food, and sit at a clean table faded away with every bite of my Grand Slam breakfast.

From then on, it was nothing but sleeping, highway, fog, and quiet. The twins slept well and we arrived at 4:00 AM. We took a day to adjust, but we are all in full vacation mode.

We're HERE!

Layla asks, "Where is the snow?"


She's ready for the cold, for sure. We are hoping to go see the snow during our visit. Easton is up to his same old constructive tricks in Oma and Opa's living room. His tower is really tall and aligned, isn't it!


As a part of the holiday tradition of baking and cooking, Oma is starting early to show Layla the secrets of the kitchen.


Yesterday GG came over to spend some time with us and she looks like royalty sitting in Opa's big, comfy chair with her purple outfit.


I was happy the twins heard a refresher of GG's lullaby songs. It means much more to them when she sings the songs (instead of us) and they are live in 3-D (instead of Skype). The next few days will be relaxing and filled with sharing meals with friends and family. I can't ask for more than that!

See you soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Barbie and dancing

Hi friends and family,

long time no write. No excuses, just the holiday excitement and preparing for travels has eaten away at the free time so much that sleep is now optional. Yeah, I know... You make time for what's important!

As for the pictures and videos, Easton and Layla are both still under the weather so we haven't been doing much adventuring at all. Both of them have learned to ask for a tissue (politely) and wipe their own nose with varying degrees of success. They are still giggling and playing all day long, just at a slower pace.


Not quite like their normal smiley, happy faces, huh...


You might think Easton plays with Barbie dolls by glancing at this next picture.


But if you look closely you'll see he is really using the Barbie doll container as an airplane transport and storage! His heavy, metal dual-prop airplane is safe and sound as he carries it around from room to room. Meanwhile, Layla has the Barbie doll sitting on the couch combing her hair.

The word "comb" leads me to share the most haunting English language conundrum of all...

tomb
comb
bomb

How do you explain THAT to a two year old? Not that we use the word tomb or bomb often, but all three words are pronounced differently. Oh well, at least I have 18 years with the twins to help explain these unsolved mysteries. Oh wait... Make that 16 years. They are already almost two years old!

The most recent new-found enjoyment around our house is dancing. Everybody dances, even the big, stuffed bear (thanks to Layla).


Time to go choose between sleep and sorting my vitamins for traveling. I can't wait for vacation time and Christmas!

See you in California.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

togetherness

Hi friends and family,

With four snotty noses at the Casa de Webb we shared a relaxing get-well-soon weekend. My nose problems stem from allergies, Kendra's from being sick, and the twins from teething and/or the flu-bug. I'm excited to report there are only a few more teeth yet to poke through so this perpetual teething will be over soon.

If anyone finds a shirt that says, "Powered by: Apple juice" please let me know because it is both true and humorous. Easton asks for it by name repeatedly all day long. Water has lost it's favor and flavor according to their desires.

Outdoor activities were limited so we played with every toy in the house several times through the rotation. Only a few bumps and bruises as we learned the soccer slippers are indeed... slippery. The traction on the bottom isn't grippy on our tile floor so when Layla comes roaring around the corner she looks like a Dachshund on a skating rink.

Anyway, over the past few days I looted a few pictures of Easton AND Layla in the same shot. These are their new pajamas as an early Christmas gift from our friend and neighbor, Marsha.


You'd be amazed at how excited two kids can be about dinosaurs and pigs. Especially Layla who made sure everyone in the room noticed her little piggies. She sure looks proud and happy!


And you should hear the noises she makes when asked what a pig sounds like. Our friends, Scott and Marisue, spent the evening hanging out with us. It turned into Mission Impossible trying to get a good picture of them with the twins, but I did capture Marisue gladly accepting the free will hugs given out by Easton and Layla.


I did my best to get a picture of her face instead of the back of her head, but this was one of those rare candid shots of the twins showing love at the same time in the same frame of a picture. They spent the rest of the night buzzing around like flies chasing Scott and being chased until they laugh so hard it isn't possible to run any further.

Earlier in the weekend I walked Easton and Layla to the park so Kendra could cook and relax in peace for a little while. We met another couple who had a daughter the same age as the twins. They played well together with their new friend and the Dad was nice enough to take a picture of us.


I dug into the archive for this next picture to show their relative growth in 10 months when you compare the way their jackets fit. This next picture is from their 1st birthday.


What an amazing difference in just 10 months! These are the hand-made jackets Oma made for the twins. In the 1st birthday picture you can see how their sleeves are rolled up and the jacket engulfs them. In the recent park picture, the jacket just barely fits. Also, Easton and Layla finally have hair.

The next few days will be filled with packing and making travel arrangements to prepare for our trip to NorCal. We are looking forward to spending time with Kendra's relatives and our friends while in town. Nothing says "holidays" like spending time with family!

See you soon.