Saturday, July 31, 2010

gymnastics

Greetings friends and family,

About a year ago we bought Easton some pajamas with a tractor on the front. He asked for them by name every night. Here's the earliest picture I can find of Easton wearing his favorite pajamas.


Fast forward one year to now and... Yup, those are the same pajamas! The only difference is now they have no sleeves on the top or legs in the pants.


It's clearly time to go buy some new pajamas and say, "Good-bye" to those tattered ones. In all fairness, we have bought several sets of PJs over the past year, but these keep popping up. I think they have reached their last bit of useful life. Kendra is certainly a cost-conscious mother and I appreciate that more than you know.

Layla squeezes every last bit of fun out of her day by playing dress-up for the 10 minutes between bath time and bed time. Her somewhat new silky pajama bottoms work well to slip in and out of her ballerina outfit, which is complimented by her princess shoes.


I have not idea what the hammer is for, but she hit something or someone with it after the picture was taken. Last night I took the twins to the park for some wear-out fun while Kendra spent the evening with Megan. We went to the zoo park because it's one of the only ones I can directionally find when I'm alone. When Easton and Layla heard the train bell, their faces lit up and they looked like this:


We sat on the bench watching the passengers load and unload as the train took a few trips around the park. I wasn't comfortable being alone with Easton and Layla on the train, but maybe next week we can swing by there and go one more time. Easton looks especially GQ in his button down shirt. What a good looking young man!


When I realized the plan for Kendra and Oma to be gone all day having mommy-daughter time together, I researched to find an adventure of our own. Luckily, the Little Gym had a class in the morning where the twins would fit in. Turned out to be a great hour of physical activity for all of us.

Layla followed directions particularly well and I'm sure Opa was proud of her push-up form over the squishy soccer ball.


Easton was more interested in throwing the soccer ball, which was fine by us and the instructor as well. The way he wondered around the room exploring along with the other boy in the room was a real contrast to the girls who stayed fairly focused and close to the instructor's directions. Easton sat down with the soccer ball just long enough to catch his breath then he was off again running.


I was the most proud of the twins when they were actively assisting with the clean up effort. As soon as the instructor would sing a "clean up" song, Easton and Layla would jump into action putting toys away in the appropriate containers. Not one other kid even knew what was going on, let alone had the drive to help out. It was a two-person show!

We asked Easton what was his favorite part of the gym time. He said, "swinging like a monkey!" and giggled.


Layla also liked swinging on the bars, but she enjoyed leaping from the platform over to the wooden pole as much as swinging around on it.


Did I mention she likes to jump??? She confidently walked across the balance beam and then randomly turned towards the wall and jumped off.


She landed safely asked to do it again. She's a daredevil for sure. Even though Opa and I had as much fun watching the twins as they did playing, I about fell out of my chair when the owner of the gym said it would cost $120 per month for Easton and Layla to be members. ouch.

GG spent the evening with us here tonight and seeing her arm all bandaged up looked very painful. Easton and Layla were very considerate and understood, "GG has a boo-boo". I'm sure it was difficult for her just to get transported here and back home, but she realizes the rare opportunity to spend time with the 4 Webbs as well as how fast time flies. On the way home I thanked her for the effort to spend time with us and she said, "well, time goes by so fast and before you know it they will be grown up".

I am very grateful Layla has the chance to be in the same room with her mom, grandma, and great-grandma. Not many people get to experience that even though I know she doesn't realize right now how special these moments are.

See you soon!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

cousin or uncle?

Howdy friends and family,

I happily worked the day away talking on the phone and playing on the computer. I'm not being facetious either... That's what they pay me to do, honest. Kendra met up with her cousin for a fun-in-the-sun play date.


They stopped running around like crazy long enough to eat a snack so I'm guessing that's why we have this picture on the camera and not a blur of shapeless kids as they pass in front of the camera.

Kendra said they had an excellent day playing with cousins Alana and Braden. A new experience for Easton and Layla was to play under the tent Alana created in the backyard. They thought this was so adventurous and cool. Any time the activity involves laying down and a blanket or cover, Easton relates that to sleepy time so he's sucking his thumb. And as expected Layla is sitting up showing her intensity and expressions.


The highlight of my day besides coming home to Kendra and Easton and Layla was spending the evening with MY cousin, Bud. kendra and I couldn't figure out how to describe him for the twins because although he is technically their cousin, they associate that with little kids. He's not actually their uncle, but that term seemed to be more in line with what they understand about grown-up relatives.

Either way, the twins treated him as family by greeting him with big hugs and showing off their outfits and toys. We went for a walk after dinner to wear out Easton and Layla. It was toasty, but none of my AZ friends will have any sympathy for me in comparison. Their faces were really red by the time we came home, but I'm sure they weren't over heated out there running around on the bike trail looking at dead mice.


Bud and I have such a great friendship and relationship in addition to our blood relation. It's always fulfilling to talk with him and even better when we are able to hang out in person. It was a rare opportunity for us to be in the same city at the same time. Much better than Skype, but I'll take what I can get any time.

I packed a few toys and outfits for the twins when I went home last weekend. Part of that includes Easton's Buzz Lightyear outfit, which he loves to wear. You can see the outfit (with pants too long) and the Buzz Lightyear flashlight in his hands, and the Buzz Lightyear cup on the table. He's all Buzzed out!


Layla has the equivalent flashlight with princesses on it (big surprise there). The twins use them to hunt for dinosaurs in the closet and hide from Oma. Very useful tool, indeed.

Life is grand and our adventures with Oma and Opa are exceeding my expectations by far. I'm looking forward to the weekend so I can be a part of the adventures too. :)

See you soon!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why? Because.

Hi friends and family,

Voluntary Solitary Confinement is over and the 4 Webbs are back together again. I spent a long weekend alone in the sweat box known as 115 degree AZ summer days. Meanwhile the rest of the family went on their own adventures in NorCal. Although it may appear to be a sarcastic exaggeration of the cool delta breeze, Layla just wanted to wear the coat because she saw it hanging in the closet.


Kendra said Layla's comment of "I'm so pretty!" was attached to the hand gesture and body language from the coat picture. Makes me proud of her. Kendra took the kids for a memorable playdate with her cousin's and their families. Layla's cousins Alana and Alexa had as much fun dressing up Layla as she did.


As an added bonus, Alana gave Layla that princess dress. A dream come true for her because as soon as she saw the dress at Alana's house her eyes lit up. When I came home today she had the dress on over her street clothes so this dress will certainly show up many more times over the next year until she grows out of it.

Easton played cars with Braden in his room as Kendra watched from the door. I know she was loving every minute of the cousin togetherness time because she talks often about how special her memories of playing in the summer with her cousins. These times together with family are a big part of the reason we spend so much time here at once.

I wanted to wait until my trip was over before getting together with Dustin and Michaela so I could be a part of it too. We've been looking forward to getting ourselves and the kids together with them for a long time.

Another outing I missed was taking the twins to go visit Oma at the school. With the students not yet in session Easton and Layla were free to roam the halls in their graduation caps. I'm confident this picture will be a part of their senior year book.


We are all amazed at how well Easton and Layla wear hats, sun glasses, and dress up gear. From what I've been told most toddlers don't like costume parts or hats or eye wear or anything on their heads. Easton gets excited to wear his Phineas and Ferb sunglasses for an hour or more as he plays outside.

Did you know there is a character on that cartoon named Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. I laugh every time I hear that name. It sounds even funnier coming from a toddler's vocabulary. We could be teaching them Spanish or Mandarin Chinese or something, but instead they can clearly say "Doofenshmirtz". Oh well, just have to celebrate the small successes.

Even though I terribly missed Kendra and the twins over the past several days, I jumped right back in to make up for lost time and took them for a walk on the jogging path. I may have missed out on a few things, but I was here for this kodak moment.


The picture is especially notable because Easton's shirt says it all... Just kidding. The real memorable part of this story is that we saw a freshly dead mouse on the trail and before I could say, "don't touch that!" Layla touched it. Then I said, "Don't touch that!" and Easton lifted his foot and squashed it. I had to determine whether to use this as a "teachable moment" to correct their behavior or just let it go and realize kids will be kids.

I did something in between by squatting down to their level, holding both of their hands and confirmed they knew not to do what they just did. They agreed, understood, and then we went on our merry way.

They picked up flowers, feathers, and rocks for Oma. Every item they picked up was seen in the same way as a cat bringing in a dead mouse to their owner. Not so much as a gift, but rather as an affirmation of their abilities. We still have the rocks down stairs and I hope we can keep them as a "pet rock", which will undoubtedly get lost in the seat of our car at some point.

When a parent is with a child (or two) every second of every day the changes are imperceptible. The interesting part of my mini-vacation away from the twins was the noticeable growth. Layla's hair seems longer, Easton speaks more clearly, and their personalities shine through like never before.


The latest cognitive advancement is a great milestone in communication. We have entered the age of, "WHY?" Not yet to the situation where a kid asks why 20 times in a row to every response you give, although that is coming. I'm referring to their ability to respond in a sentence beginning with the word "because" to MY question of, "Why?"

It may seem trivial, but getting them express their feelings and explain their actions/emotions is a big leap in communication. As I noted before a few posts ago, there is a cyclical conversation that becomes meaningless until they are able to get to the root of the problem and answer the why question with a because statement.

I started reading the book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". It has sat dusty on my shelf for over 5 years and I grabbed it on the way out the door to read on the airplane. I am pleasantly surprised at the excellence of the concepts and even more captivated because of how much the content deals with parenting. I highly recommend it and can't wait to finish the second half soon. By "soon" I really mean "when I have 3 hours of boredom and no internet connectivity or family present". Uhhh... I don't even know if that will occur again this year. There's always, 2011!

See you soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

sing it out

Hi friends and family,

Who am I without my family? That question doesn't come up very often because it is a rare occurrence for me to actually live the truth of my answer to the question. I flew back to AZ for a few days and discovered the answer to that question: I'm selfish. That's not bad so don't feel sorry for me! The time alone, away from Kendra and the twins has been great. However, I don't really like the person I am without them in my life. I turned into a recluse from the first moment I stepped foot in my door. It's eerily quiet... So quiet I had to (ok, I really wanted to) turn on my DJ dance music at an obscenely high volume because the silence bothered me and I never get to do it unless I'm alone.

There is no food in the house so I'm eating out all the time. Denny's Grand Slam for breakfast, Jack-in-the-box Sourdough Jack for lunch, and Peter Piper Pizza for dinner. How far can I possibly get from a healthy diet? Well, that about sums it up.

Even though I'm trying my hardest to just be "myself" and enjoy the well-deserved RnR, I find my thoughts constantly drifting towards Kendra and the twins. Everything I love about them is amplified in what I miss about not being with them. I look through old pictures of us, watch sweet video clips of them, and occasionally wonder into their room and see the empty cribs just to get flash-back or two from moments in the past.

I found what I really miss are the little moments. Not even the extraordinarily memorable ones, but just normal, every day moments. For example, watching them drink runny yogurt for the first time and giggling about strawberry moustaches.


Nothing extra special or abnormally humorous... Just the standard life-with-twins kind of stuff.


I also miss watching Easton and Layla flexing their personalities through imaginative comments and new experiences. It is evident Opa sees the short window of opportunity to share in those moments as well.


I also miss songs from Easton and Layla. They are both finding their voices and it makes me happy to hear them figure it out. Layla does her very impressive rendition of Father Abraham:

video

This next video clip gets funnier the longer I watch it because of the repetitive nature. Easton and Layla are both joining in singing a single line of the Cinderella song over and over. and over. and over. Like a broken record!

video

I don't mind a bit though because the last thing I ever want to do is put out their little flames by telling them to be quiet or stop singing. The video clip is only a few seconds but the two of them carried on for about 5 minutes before moving on to another song or discussion topic.

I'm still playing the bachelor role for a few more days, but luckily I have 2 years worth of pictures and video clips to keep me entertained. And there is always Skype. :)

See you soon!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FairyTales and Capes

Hey friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are still in vacation mode since Oma and Opa are spending all day every day sharing life with us and the twins. The only non-vacation like aspect is that I go to work each day. Everyone else gets to enjoy things like FairyTale Town.


From what I heard it is like a toddler's version of scaled-down DisneyLand. The twins loved every minute and explored the entire campus finding physical representations of the fairy tales they've been watching on TV. For example, Cinderella's pumpkin carriage:


and a really big, squishy king's chair like what's in Robin Hood.


Easton and Layla both reached the "I wanna do it" stage a looooong time ago. This independence includes the need to walk by themselves everywhere. For this reason, I'm certain Oma and Opa had to make a coordinated effort to halt the twins as they march forward, pick them up, and force them to hold still long enough to take a picture in front of the enormous castle.


There are other parts of the park which are fun such as the "Rabbit Hole" slide. Unfortunately since the twins have not seen Alice in Wonderland, it's just another very cool tunnel slide.


Of course Easton found his true passion: trains! Oma and Layla were just along for the ride so he could experience riding the express around the park.


There was also a water fountain shaped like a flower, which I have no context around, but it made for a good picture none the less. Seeing Layla's little pig-tails and Opa assisting so Easton could quench his thirst is good enough for this one to become my desktop background for a few days.


Back at the ranch, Oma has been working feverishly on capes for the twins. Do you know how hard it is to find a good, quality, inexpensive cape for a toddler? It's impossible. That's why we hired Oma to hand-sew personalized capes for Easton and Layla. The neck strap is velcro (safety first) and the inside is a pattern of Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story.


On the back is big star with Easton's favorite super hero, Buzz Lightyear.


I'll get pictures of Layla's cape and them together in the next few days. It's really difficult to capture both of them in the same picture even when they’re NOT flying around the house like super heros. The capes are awesome and I'm really grateful Oma took the time to work her magic on the sewing machine.

Some things about life in NorCal are normal such as trips to Costco. Easton and Layla recognize the big sign and yell, "Cost-CO! We're here!" as we pull into the parking lot.


And of course there are numerous parks around with playground equipment which is new to the twins. The chilly mornings are especially conducive to outdoor activity so we are taking full advantage of the opportunities.


and here's my favorite picture from the past few days because Easton and Layla are smiling, surrounded by green foliage, and sitting close to each other without biting, hitting, screaming or bossing each other.


They really are best friends and most of the time act like it. :) Easton enjoys Opa more and more each day. I'm glad to see Opa rough-housing and running around having boy fun with Easton like flying fighter jets in dog fights through the living room. His comfortability with Opa is obvious and priceless.


I better get to bed since SOMEbody has to work around here!

See you soon.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Princesses and Planes

Greetings friends and family,

We drove 14 hours to escape the AZ heat and it boils down to a decrease of 12 degrees per day. In other words... we are being blamed for bringing the heat with us from AZ to Cali. Even so, the night time lows in the 60's makes for awesome evenings and mornings. No complaints here! The twins are happy to swim every day and twice on Sunday.


Both of them discovered a new-found joy in holding their breath and going underwater. The humorous part is the timing. Layla, who typically despises being told to go under, willingly did it on her own while the arm band floaties held her up. She came up out of the water with a big, proud smile as she looked for cheering from us with approval of her accomplishment.

Easton noticed what she did and decided it was OK to do the same. He also sought the cheers from the crowd of relatives and of course we were more than happy to congratulate him on the accomplishment. Within a few minutes he was putting his head under water for 5 seconds and spinning around at the same time. They finally got the hang of it! It only took 8 weeks of swim lessons, $225, and countless hours of our encouragement. Simple accomplishment... Tons of work.

Easton and Layla are loving life at Oma and Opa's house. The first words out of their mouth every morning is, "where is Oma?" All day long it's all about the grandparents. Even at night Oma and Opa are requested to tell stories about Easton and Layla in the basement of their castle. Not sure why the story always has to revolve around that topic, but we are happy to oblige.

In the morning Easton asks to hang onto his blankie so we let him hang out before breakfast with it. He laid his head on the pillow and asked me (as always) to "cover up". You can see by his big smile he's a happy, morning person.


Layla tries her best to fit into Opa's living room chair, but she's growing too big for that already.


On Saturday we planned a huge day of Guy's time and Girl's time separately. Opa and I took Easton to the Aerospace Museum of California for a day of airplanes and space shuttles. As we expected, Easton was immediately drawn to the blue airplane, which happens to be a famous Blue Angels Skyhawk.


We were able to board 2 planes and a helicopter! Easton's favorite memory of the day was pushing the big button in the center console of the airplane as Opa sat with him.


One of the toy planes Easton really likes is a fire and rescue boat plane. When he saw this real-life one he took the opportunity to touch every component because he had some context of what it was.


Here's Easton and I looking out of the helicopter window. He was brave and strangely comfortable wandering up and down the cargo area of the aircraft.


Even though Easton's eyes are closed in the next picture, it proved to be one of the most humorous moments of the day for me. When we first walked by the airplane Easton noticed the intake opening under the nose of the plane. His unprompted comment was, "The airplane is happy!" because it looks like a smile. Like all things in life, it's all about your perspective, right?


After roaming between the planes we went inside to view the other items of interest. Even the actual astronaught space suit couldn't keep Easton's interest because he saw the park outside, which includes a space shuttle shaped play ground.


complete with a seat to mimic the cockpit of the space shuttle.


the only mishap of the day was letting Easton go down the really steep, long tunnel slide alone. He did a little rolling around in there on his way down and was scared by the time he reached Opa at the bottom. No harm... no foul. I took him back up to the top and rode down with him successfully. He didn't mind getting back on the proverbial horse.

Oma and Kendra took Layla to see the Cinderella play at the local theater. Layla was the envy of all of the little girls because of her princess crown.


Kendra described the experience as "successful" even though Layla had a little trouble staying in her seat. Her behavior was justified because the play happened to be exactly during her nap time so she didn't get one on Saturday.

Even with her finger in her nose she was thrilled to see Cinderella and have girl's time with mommy and Oma.


After church we found a local park with a waterfall and fake creek with a playground. The ice cream truck came by the park and my ears are finely tuned to the ice cream truck jingle which plays from every one of these roaming the streets. I gave Layla the powerpuff girl one and Easton the TMNT one, which melted faster than they could eat.


The melting made for a huge mess, but luckily the water park was close by so they washed off in no time.


It wasn't a "splashpad" because there wasn't water shooting up from the ground or a sprinkler system. However, the continuous waterfall gushed so much Layla never found the courage to follow the older girls into the downpour. She did a great job of convincing the girls to follow her around playing "follow the leader".


Easton was happy enough to play by himself and dump water out on the rocks.


Simple fun and all the other kids around provided a good social environment for them (and us). Kendra met some mommies there and their kids wanted to know our phone number so they could play with Layla again sometime. :) what a magnetic personality she has...

Long story for this next picture, but the short version is: I needed a bath and my swimsuit needed a wash to get the chlorine out. It also happened to be Easton and Layla's bath time. They asked me to get in the tub so I jumped in with them. They thought it was hilarious to use the washable crayons to draw on me and I love to hear them laugh so much i didn't care.


by the way, cleaning the crayons off my skin took more scrubbing than cleaning the bath tub tiles. No one can accuse me of not being involved with the kids, right?

See you soon!