Friday, February 25, 2011

Grandparents Times 2

Hi friends and family,

About 3 years ago Kendra was pregnant with twins on the night before the scheduled C-section. Both sets of our parents were on hand for the impending arrival of Easton and Layla to our world. We stopped by Angel Sweet for Kendra's favorite gelato as the last hoorah of non-hospital food for a few days. That was 3 years ago...

Today we get the good fortune of our parents overlapping visits at the 4 Webb's house again. My parents, Ma and Pa, just arrived tonight so we took the opportunity to relive the Angel Sweet experience. Here are the two most influential women in my life: Ma and Mom. They haven't aged a single day in 3 years.

But Easton and Layla are obviously different than their appearance 3 years ago. Can you tell how much they enjoy gelato? Almost as much as Kendra.

You might also notice Layla is sitting on the pink stool and Easton is on the blue stool . Layla's jacket is pink and Easton's is (dark) blue. Layla's ice cream is pink (strawberry) and Easton's is... brown. They didn't have blue ice cream or he probably would have asked for it.

Aunt Joanie's gifts were a big hit. Thanks! Books are such a big part of every day around our house. The flash cards are highly prized and regularly spread around the bedroom floor as we rifle through them.

The stomp rocket still gets play time, but the base is destroyed so teamwork is required. That's where twins make life even more fun. Layla jumps, Easton holds as the rocket as it blasts off (good timing, Kendra), and Daddy coordinates while looking silly with Layla's crown.

In all fairness, Layla was wearing the princess crown on. However, every time she looked up to see the rocket it fell off her head. I offered to hold it and couldn't think of a better way to keep it safe than on my own head.

Easton sat next to Kendra during lunch today and welcomed a big hug from mommy. I don't see the resemblance between the two of them and neither does Kendra, but other people say there is a resemblance. My parents confirmed our assessment at dinner tonight by agreeing he looks just like me.

Trips to Target usually end with Easton and Layla receiving a toy of some sort. Easton found a squishy snake, which he used to chase the neighbor girls into their garage (that's my boy). Layla found princess jewelry and wore her first set of clip-on earrings bearing Sleeping Beauty's face on each one. I don't like where this is going one bit...

No ear piercings until she's 16 years old. I know that's not realistic, but I'm using it as my starting point based on the negotiation tactic of "anchoring". See! My MBA is paying off every day.

Having both parents around, even for only 18 hours, is a very special time for me. There is a sense of completeness sitting at the dinner table tonight. All of us get along well together, which is highly unusual from what I've seen in other families. Both sides of our family have the same values and principles. It is clear Kendra and I are "equally yoked".

Living in AZ has an opportunity cost. The cost is the loss of having these experiences with both sets of grandparents simultaneously. I can't put a dollar amount on that, but the cost exists none the less. I'm not focusing on the costs though because I choose to enjoy the moments as they happen. All I can do is focus on what we have, which is this time together.

See you soon!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sick and Smiling

Hola friends and family,

We're brushing up on our Spanish by reading books at the Doctor's office. We made our second trip to the doctor this week because Easton took a turn for the worse with continued fever and he was diagnosed as having an ear infection. We've been very fortunate to go three years with twins and zero ear infections so I can't complain.

Easton and Layla are both under the weather, but still have happy hearts most of the time. Poor Ouma and Oupa are short-chaged because the twins aren't able to have as many adventures as I'd like. However, we did get them out of the house for lunch to meet our friends at Joe's Farm Grill. Here's the best shot of week so far:

We waited quite a while for lunch due to the long line and cook times, but we expected that on the holiday weekend. Layla even resorted to using pine tree branches as a broom to sweep the ground.

By the time the food arrived Easton was at his limits. This is the face of a sick boy doing his best to behave. Here is his "don't mess with me" look:

When we arrived Layla Rae and Layla Ruth ran towards each with arms wide open and shared a big hug. Despite their occasional personality clashes the two of them are really close, great friends.

Ouma and Oupa show such great interest in being a part of the twins' lives. I'm blessed to such outstanding grandparents as in-laws who I want to be around Easton and Layla. I do everything possible for the twins to spend time with them. Not only do I trust them with Easton and Layla's precious hearts, but I also want Ouma and Oupa's influence to build their character and shape who they become.

Back at home we started the care and feeding of our future athletes. Layla clearly has all of key ingredients to be excellent at any sport she chooses. We're thinking softball is a real possibility based on her hand-eye coordination.

Easton has great skills as well, but not the same interest level in those sports like Layla. He seems to be more suited for dodgeball or basketball because he likes to throw things more than hit or kick things.

One of Layla's birthday gifts was a princess mirror with a light-up button that when pressed proclaims, "you're as pretty as a princess". I heard her playing with the mirror and looking at herself in it. Now, there's a picture of confident, secure girl.

I said, "Layla is a beautiful princess", and without taking her eyes off herself in the mirror she said, "yes, I AM a beautiful princess!"

We took our daily trip to the mailbox and i'll call this the "before" picture when Layla and I were playing chase together. Although she has the runny nose and cough and slight temperature it is obvious she feels better than Easton.

Easton tripped on his shoes and Layla was close by. As she grabbed him to give a big hug she said, "awe, that's ok little buddy... don't cry". However, since Easton didn't want a hug he tried to shake her off, but fell again, which made the situation worse.

I can't blame her for trying though. Her intentions were pure, but Easton was in no mood to accept. better luck tomorrow...

We ate dinner outside on the back patio tonight because we still have no room for a dining room table in our house. The weather was delightful and chilly enough for a jacket. I love spring in Phoenix.

Now we just need to get our two monkeys to be well and avoid getting sick ourselves and things will keep getting better!

See you soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birthday Big Bang

Hey friends and family,

Happy Birthday month to Easton and Layla! The party was a big success as we more firmly cemented the correlation between birthdays and cake for the twins. Easton was impressed by see-through silverware as well as his cake and ice cream.

Layla's overly hyped expectations provided a high benchmark for us to shoot for. We clearly exceeded them by surrounding her with friends and neighbors who poured out love and attention for her.

It's a long story how we got to the magical cake eating moments of the party so I'll rewind a few hours. Ouma and Oupa arrived late Friday night due to flight delays and Oupa's golf clubs didn't arrive the next morning. Not to worry... They were hand delivered to our front door.

Saturday morning greeted us with storm clouds and rain confirming our forced cancellation of the outdoor cul-de-sac block party. This may have been the first weather related party cancellation I ever experienced in Phoenix. We decided to go ahead with the party as an indoor event as long as the pediatrician cleared Easton and Layla of contagious sickness.

While waiting for the pediatrician we had a real-life Nemo experience thanks to the cool fish aquarium. We pointed out all of the characters except the puffer fish. They were much smaller than I expected, but it kept the twins busy for several minutes. Layla did tap the glass like Darla did in the movie, but we quickly reviewed the rules of fish-watching and didn't have any more trouble.

The pediatrician said Layla's fighting a bacterial something and Easton was contagious with flu symptoms. Then the car battery died and Kendra drove to rescue us with the jump start. Things improved dramatically after the rough morning though. We called around and told the party attendees of Easton's sickness and everyone shrugged their shoulders and came anyway. Everyone was forced to sign a disclaimer upon entry to our house that we are not responsible for any sickness resulting from entering the premises. Just kidding... We're not psycho, just wanted to tell people and give them full information before coming over.

The ladies had a great time even though it was a lot of work putting together the meal and party. We have Ouma, Mary, Sheri (neighbor), Kendra and April.

The other lady not pictured is Marisue who was otherwise occupied with her own twins. I think that's Dean, but she'll have to correct me on this one. Kendra hung out at their house a time or two so she's had much more interaction with them than I have.

Layla was fully decked out in Rapunzel-wear including the necklace that makes a harp noise when pressed. Layla Ruth made herself at home and joined the princess dress-up.

She makes a very convincing Cinderella, don't you think? Ready for the ball, but stuck sweeping the floor...

After playing some games and eating the meal it was time for cake and ice cream. Kendra went all-out on the cake thing by going as far as following directions from an online video. The castle cake tastes as wonderful as it looks. The towers are sugar cones covered in frosting and rolled in sugar crystals. The clouds around the edge are cotton candy.

Easton's cake is a space shuttle complete with 3 candles at the bottom which looked like rocket boosters when lit. Easton did what every 3-year-old does to a birthday cake... spit all over the back half while trying to blow out the candles.

Then came time for presents. Can you SEE the anticipation on their faces? Talk about obedient children. We could have told them to do anything and they would have agreed and complied immediately because of the carrot dangling in front of them.

The present opening time was much less orderly than I expected, but still tons of fun for the twins. They were ripping and tearing so fast I had no chance to get pictures of everything. Occasionally Layla would calm down long enough to say, "Thank you" to whoever gave her a gift.

The gifts they received were awesome and we really appreciate the well-thought-out choices.

Easton's gifts were perfectly focused on what he enjoys: Trains, dinosaurs, rockets, and... a Nerf gun?

This is what happens when you give a 3-year-old a Nerf gun and 30 seconds of instruction on how to use it. He peppered our vaulted ceiling with suction cup darts.

Layla's gifts were mostly princess related and exactly the kinds of things she enjoys the most (drawing, learning, dress-up, jewelry). Here she is showing me her new special bracelet made by Amy

Although Easton is excited about using his new Crayons to color his new dinosaur coloring book, his facial expression means, "Dad, my nose is running... please wipe it before the snot goes in my mouth."

As a parent you really have to learn to read between the lines. :) Being sick for their birthday is a bummer, but we clearly made the best of the situation we were given. Hanging out and spending time with those who are a part of Easton and Layla's life is what it's all about. Lucky for us, Easton and Layla have happy hearts even in the midst of not feeling well.

All it takes is a little creativity to have fun and a lot of compassion and hugs to get them through the sick days. Adding Ouma and Oupa to our daily mix is very comforting for Kendra and I. Just knowing they are paying attention to the twins makes it 100 times easier for me to focus on other non-kid-related things... like replacing the car battery (thanks for teaching me, Oupa).

See you soon!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ready for the party

Happy Friday, friends and family.

This'll be a shorter post than normal because if I stay here too long Kendra will say, "did you finish all of the chores and cleaning you need to do?" My answer will be, "no" prompting a motivational comment or two before I get to work on what needs to be done.

Ouma and Oupa are flying into town tonight for a week! (yeah) Easton and Layla's birthday party is tomorrow and you'd be surprised at the amount of effort going into the preparation for the occasion.

The furniture is finally completely refinished. Talk about a marathon... We have the replacement rails on order for the drawers, but other than that we done with the DIY project of the century. Even though the furniture turned out great, I pray this is the last project do for a long time.

Layla's artistic skills are coming along well. Here is her first attempt at a self portrait. I only call it that because when I asked her who it is she said, "it's me!"

On a recent trip to Lowe's with Layla we purchased a bird feeder. The Lowe's lady said if I get the "normal" bird feeders and seed it will attract pigeons, which is not a good idea. She directed me to a hummingbird feeder as a good solution. I've seen hummingbirds in the neighborhood so I know they are around. We hung it on the back patio by replacing the temperature gauge. Looks great to me! Now all we need is a sign and some advertising so the hummingbirds know we are open for business.

I took the twins out for the evening so Kendra could bake and get ready for our guests. Layla asked to wear her ballerina outfit and fairy wings. Why not? All I required was a long sleeved undershirt because the temperature drops a few degrees after the sun goes down.

Easton discovered sub sandwiches and asks for mustard on everything including subs. He survived his birthday haircut and is ready for pictures!

Kendra hung his rocketship art on the wall and he was most excited to show me when I came in the door from work. unfortunately the first thing I noticed was the runny nose and cough. :( There is never a good time to be sick, but we hoped to keep the "well" streak alive through the family visit.

Time to go clean. see you soon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Silly Dancing

Hey friends and family,

Yesterday evening the 4 Webbs were hanging around the house after dinner and I had an idea for something new and fun to do. My Canon S90 digital camera has a half-baked video camera on it and I wanted to get some video clips of the twins. I also have a 60 inch TV. I also have a cable to connect the two such that live video feeds into the TV from the digital camera. So what happens when three-year-olds see themselves on live TV for the first time? Well, here's the answer:

We had so much fun being silly and laughing at ourselves. Then I figured out how to pipe music through the stereo while the camera recorded the live feed to the TV. That led to Layla dancing and Easton continuing his run back and forth routine.

Kendra and I joined in the hilarity, but none of the clips we were in turned out as good as those two above. I'm not sure my idea is considered creative, but the economic reality of limited resources and money, a.k.a. scarcity, promotes creativity. This leads me back to the arguments around organic fun versus manufactured fun. Anyone can have fun with a million dollars. It takes creativity and ingenuity to have fun with zero dollars.

Speaking of free, we went to the mailbox where Easton single-handedly opened it, retrieved the mail, and locked it closed. One piece of junk mail was a credit card offer from SouthWest airlines. Since it had a picture of an airplane on the front Easton assumed it must be for him. I gave him the pretend credit card inside and told him it was his pilot's license.

He ran outside and immediately flagged down the next airplane in the sky, which happened to be a SouthWest jumbo jet. He was screaming, "Hey jumbo jet! Land here so I can fly you."

As a reward for obeying all day (ok, most of the day) I took the twins to Dairy Queen for a kid's cone. The ice cream is good, but I leave disappointed because the comparison of Andy's Frozen Custard always comes up and Andy's is the clear winner in that battle.

Easton likes "brown" ice cream and Layla likes "banilla". Luckily Dairy Queen has both! Easton is the messy one who ended up with chocolate covering most of his cheeks and hands. Luckily bath time was next on the agenda!

Kendra painted Layla's fingernails for Valentine's Day and when I came home Layla acted like she was on the red carpet for the Grammy awards. Her eyelashes fluttered, she smiled, she swayed her hips, and she practically begged me to compliment her new look. I didn't even get 2 seconds to proactively pay her the compliment though because she was so excited to show me. I was completely impressed and told her how beautiful the nail polish looked on her.

Then at night she put on her brand new 3T princess pajamas from Neill and Jenny. Second verse, same as the first...

I went in to tuck them into bed and Layla was in such a deep sleep she didn't even notice as I pulled the covers up. Normally she rolls over as soon as I walk in the room, but this night she was peacefully dreaming. I sat there for a few minutes and soaked in the moment of seeing my only precious daughter resting comfortably.

As an update for life after cribs in the big-boy and big-girl bed, it's going very well. They stay in bed and go to sleep shortly after the lights go out. They also stay in bed in the morning until one of us goes to get them up. Not sure how long it will last until they figure out it is possible to get up in the morning without our presence. Maybe they are just obedient children?

See you soon!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Valentines

Howdy friends and family,

I eat cream cheese on crackers because shoveling spoon-fulls of cream cheese into my mouth doesn't seem as refined. That has zero to do with anything related to the twins. Just thought I'd share what's on my mind at this moment.

Happy Valentines Day from Easton and Layla!

I know the post is a premature by two days, but today we had our 4 Webb's celebration. Our church held the annual potluck banquet for all the kids and families so we joined in the fun for a social lunch. Easton's shirt says, "Who's a hottie? This boy!" and Layla's shirt says, "Sweet Heart". The church ladies got a real kick out of their customized wardrobe. Layla's fingernails were painted bright red and she wore her tutu for the occasion as well. Unfortunately the tutu was deemed too hot by the time we arrived home where the picture was taken.

The twins loaded up in the chariot for a trip to the park and I peddled them across the main road to spice it up a bit instead of going to the neighborhood park. Along the way we stopped at Aunt Mary's house to take a picture and see how her place is doing.

We call this "Mary's Park" because it is in her neighborhood. This is the place where Easton fell and took a digger in the sand when he was much younger. I'm proud to say everyone survived with no injuries this time.

We were joined by an entire asian family or two led by the matriarch in house shoes and speaking only Mandarin. The kids spoke English, but were noticeably unfriendly to the twins. I could tell Layla was frustrated and perplexed by their shyness. All I could say was, "Sorry sweet pea... Some people aren't as friendly as they should be."

When I describe Easton here are some words that come to mind: methodical, calculating, cautious, patient, focused. And he chose to ride the turtle.

Layla chose to ride the horse. Amazing how they gravitate towards animals to which they relate, isn't it?

Layla is finally potty trained with no special stepping stool or potty seat... except for night time, but that's a whole 'nother level we won't see for a while. Easton, has finally turned the corner on the potty training marathon. He voluntarily goes pee in the small potty and does his own up-n-down routine with the pants and pull-ups. I had no idea how much time we spent changing diapers and standing around in the bathroom while they do their business. However, their independence on the issue is one less thing we have to manage all day every day.

As a reward Easton gets to wear his Nemo big-boy underwear! Kendra's house shoes were not part of the bargain. Easton just thought it would be fun to wear them around the house.

One final story is related to Kendra's night out. She went to a Tupperware party. Yes, those still exist after 30+ years. I'm all gung-ho for any occasion Kendra gets to spend time being social with ladies of great character.

Anyway, we went to the park and I gladly accepted my duties to provide dinner for the twins that evening. My first preference would be to have dinner sponsored by In-N-Out burger, but ever since we jumped on the allocated spending plan bandwagon things are different around here. There's a new sheriff in town... I came home to find this:

Isn't that sweet of her? She set up everything including the spoons and bowls. It doesn't get much easier than this, but I still consider it cooking because there is a pot or pan involved. The noodles were hard and the peas were cold, but luckily the twins don't have a discriminating palate yet. Hooray for nitrate-free hotdogs!

Time to get some furniture sold on Craigslist... See you soon!