Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hikers Extraordinaire

Greetings friends and family,

Easton and Layla are back to school, I'm back to work, and Kendra is back to running the household.  OK, the truth is Kendra didn't take a break.  That's the reason I decided at the last minute to give her a kid-free day on Saturday.  Her instructions were to do whatever she wants whenever she wants without consulting or telling me or the kids.  Just do it, as Nike says.  After spontaneously throwing that out there when we woke up I realized that means I needed to plan some things for our special Daddy day together.  12 hours of playing Lightening McQueen and Snow White was not a valid plan so I dug deep in the parenting manual to come up with this:

1. make breakfast - doesn't get any easier than cereal, toast, juice, and fruit
2. run necessary errands and clean the garage - My attempt to teach the importance of doing what we NEED before doing what we WANT.
3. play inside with toys and read books - no brainer quality time to kill an hour
4. lunch
5. AZ science center
6. hike South Mountain
7. dinner
8. pajama party
9. the "Three B's" - bath books, bed

The first half of the day was low key and uneventful, but I know how much it means to Easton and Layla for Daddy to be involved in play time.  We made serious headway on cleaning the garage because we are slowly working our way towards fitting both cars.  Then was play time...  I say, "what do you want to play?  Anything you want to do is what we will do."  For Easton it was hot wheels and for Layla it was pet shop.

Kendra got a little caught up in lunch time by making sandwiches.  old habits are hard to break.  I shooed her out of the kitchen and she went back to restoring furniture in the garage.   We loaded up the car for the Science Center and the only disappointment was that our friends Trinity and Ben weren't with us.  Last time we went included Trinity and Ben so it's understandable how the twins would expect them to be with us this time also.

The exhibits get more interesting each time we visit because Easton and Layla grasp more and more concepts between visits.  The plumbing and piping section was particularly interesting because we just finished the bathroom counter and sink installation.  

Behind Layla in the next picture is a wall full of pregnancy stages including the one right before birth.  They grasped the concept well until I said, "Mommy's belly is where Easton AND Layla were just before you were born.  There were TWO babies in there."  Their jaws dropped open and Layla gave a long, "Whaaaaaaaat?" in disbelief.

The funniest exhibit is a camera which displays a huge image on the wall directly in front of the camera.  A panel of buttons distorts the image in real-time.  I jumped in with them and each press of a button squished a different area of the screen showing something like this.

The most interesting exhibit from my perspective was the wind tunnel.  A lever controls the wind speed and the controller controls the aircraft.  Easton's hair shows the velocity of the wind.  He did a great job piloting the plane as it turned left and right.

The Science Center tour lasted two hours, but none of us were worn out in the slightest.  We headed to the mountains for hike now that the twins are checked out on the standard operating procedures of hiking.  The journey started out great with Easton bravely protecting his sister from the dangerous golfers nearby.

Then Layla's competitive nature kicked in and she ran so fast until she fell.  The damage was minimal and she stopped crying after realizing Easton was trotting down the trail in front of her.  She cried more about him being first than she did about the fall.

Easton bit the dust and is showing the minor abrasions on his palm.  Nothing terrible, but enough to get dirt all over their outfits and teach them the hard way about hiking carefully.

As we approached the top they were all smiles especially with the promise of beef jerky and snacks which await them.  This is one of my favorite pictures of the weekend because their smiles are genuine, the friendship and love are obvious, and the mountains in the background show their great accomplishment.

Our hike this time was mostly about encouraging them by praising their bravery and success in climbing the mountain.  The experience wasn't pain-free, but they are both revved up about hiking because of the excitement I displayed before, during, and after.  The parental mood is absolutely contagious for kids whether it is good or bad.  The day was everything I hoped it would be:  quality and quantity time sharing adventures together.

 Today as we were leaving for church Layla grabbed my hand to walk with me to the car.  She said, "Some day I will marry a boy and he will think I'm beautiful just like you do."  I immediately agreed to reinforce her expectation, but inside I went through a range of emotions.  I'm extremely grateful she accepts my attempts to call out her femininity.  I'm shocked she understands this concept at age 3.  I'm protective already of her heart when considering what boys she will encounter along the way to finding her husband.  I'm excited for the next few years where she still wants to hold my hand and she thinks I'm awesome.

Life is great!

See you soon.

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