Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Howdy friends and family,

My Mom and Dad will arrive on Thursday to celebrate my birthday.  OK, I'm sure they are coming for many other reason's, but my birthday just happens to coincide with their visit.   I watched last night's Daytona race with more interest than usual because Dad and I have tickets to see Nascar this Sunday as they roar through Phoenix.  I'm really looking forward to that.  Some day Easton will be able to handle the noise and posses the patience required to enjoy a Nascar race.  However, until he can survive the noise of an auto-flushing toilet without covering his ears, I'm leaving him at home.   

The twins and I went for a bike ride to the park and green belt for play time and owl hunting.  Owls are still a hot topic around our house ever since we saw Hootie for the first time.  They chased a loft of pigeons (no, it's not called a flock) several times down the green belt.  Layla provided the visual shock and awe by running through them as Easton screamed like a Banshee for the aural impact.   Those birds didn't stand a chance.  

The birds settled quickly again a few yards away, which gave the twins a chance to catch their breath then repeat the cycle.  

After a few cycles of that they turned on me and I took the brunt of a one-two TWINPACT hug 

I had my camera phone ready to capture the next pigeon assault, but instead captured them smothering me with powerful hugs.  Easton really wanted to wear his Buzz Lightyear knee pads and I'm a big fan of safety, so why not?  He wore them as a fashion statement because four-year-olds are too enthralled by the cartoon characters to be worried about what piece of equipment they are on.  He'll always be cool in my book.  I'd wear knee pads with him if they made an adult size set!  Please don't find them on eBay and send them for my birthday though...  I'm speaking metaphorically.  :)

I'm attending a 3-day training class for work, reading a book for my mentoring group, mentoring 9 guys, preparing for my PMP certification, and occasionally sleeping.  Somewhere in there I spend a couple of hours each night with Easton and Layla until 8:00 and then with Kendra when we find a spare hour or two here and there.

One of Kendra's friends came over with newly painted fingernails.  I asked Layla if she wanted her fingernails painted and I already knew the answer would be yes.  We watched a little bit of Tangled while I struggled to apply the polish.  It feels like I'm painting Mona Lisa on the head of pin because her fingers are so tiny.  It truly is "effort" that counts more than results.  Thank God.

Time to bury my nose in the books...  the many, many books.

See you soon!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Report Cards

Hello friends and family,

Today I attended my first parent/teacher conference to discuss Easton and Layla's progress report cards.  Seeing the list of measurable skills along with the twins' relative success brought back stressful memories from my schooling.  I still have some of my report cards and even though I made good grades there was still a certain anxiety related to scanning down through the list of grades each semester. 

In some ways I felt like my ability to parent was on trial.  Not because of anything the teacher said or did but because I feel very responible for their success or failure at this age.  when they are 21 years old...  probably not so much, but until then I am my own best accountability partner when it comes to parenting. 

Our house was joyfully busy over the past week.  Ouma's best friend, Christy, added an extra special flare or element of interest while she was here.  I was sad for her to go after only spending a few short days with us.  I was very excited we had room in the house for everyone to sleep and also throughout the day to have space and separation when needed.  Layla slept on Easton's trundle bed, Christy slept on Layla's bed, and Ouma and Oupa had their own room.   

Here's Ouma and Christy waiting patiently for the parade.

What parade?  Easton and Layla's preschool patriotic parade!

The whole school marched up and down the campus donning red, white, and blue attire to celebrate the USA.  They say the pledge of allegiance every day (thank God that is still legal).  Every time Layla sees an American flag waving atop a business or out front of government buildings she energetically points it out.  I am a very proud father knowing they are patriotic and love the country. 

The triangle hats are a mystery to me, but as 4-year-olds i'm sure they could care less whether the make-shift hat looks cool or not.  It's all about what it represents and as long as they have the concepts down I'm thrilled to see them celebrating patriotism. 

Easton decided to try on Kendra's Ugg boots because they happened to be laying around in the living room where we were hanging out.  He was a little shaky at first, but before long he was walking around the house proficiently.  I know somewhere there's a picture of me at this age wearing cowboy boots...  naked.  As if that one would ever make its way to the blog.  I'm interested to see how much he looks like me when I was 4.

Easton loves race cars.  Over the course of the past several months we managed to get him every single character from the Cars 2 movie except one:  Shu Todoroki.  Kmart made a deal with Disney saying it can only be purchased individually from a Kmart.  The problem is that we don't have a Kmart close to us and the one within driving distance was out of stock.  Thanks to eBay Easton now has every single race car from the world grand prix.  This is as genuine of a smile as you'll ever see on his face.

Ouma and Oupa flew out this morning.  booo...  We were all sad to see them go.  Layla cried for the first time because she realizes the concept of time and knows it will be a few months before we see them again.  Easton is sad too, but his emotions come through in his words more than his tears.

Luckily, we are preparing to have my Mom and Dad visit starting on Friday!  We are busy cleaning and planning already.  7 days is plenty to prep for their visit and we are counting down the days.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Hawaiian Party

Aloha friends and family,

I ordered a few cars to complete Easton's Cars 2 racing collection, but realized they were the larger sized cars (not the matchbox size).  He found the incorrect order and I thought he would like them so much I would have to upsize his entire collection.  However, he gave a disappointed shrug and said, "oh look!  BIG pop-pop bubbles!" (bubble wrap) 10 minutes later he was still fascinated by the bubble wrap and I let out a sigh of relief knowing I still only have a couple of cars left to complete his collection.

We are excited Ouma and Oupa are in town for a week of vacation with us!  One of the must-do outings was to go hiking with Oupa.  We made it further than we ever hiked before.  Luckily there was only one speed bump during the trip.  We stopped at the summit to give the twins a pee break.  Talk about the ultimate facepalm...  As we reached the top and jumped around like Rocky Balboa, it hit me.  That scary "oh no" moment when I realize Easton and Layla didn't go pee before we left.

10 seconds after I mentioned the oversight to Oupa both of them gave the one-minute warning of the exploding bladder.  Layla made a mess of the situation because I fail to comprehend the proper way to make a suitable seat out of my arms for her.  Easton was 2 inches from peeing in his face because we were both laughing so hard about his ten foot stream.  Do you know how hard it is to give directional advice to a giggling, peeing four-year-old?  Good times...

The nightly bed time rituals are out the window now that we have so many willing and able adults in the house for bed time.  One last wresting match with Oupa before winding down?  Of course.

The official birthday party for Easton and Layla finally came to pass after celebrating their birthday for two weeks.  It should be called a "birthmonth" for our two party animals.  

For unknown reasons Easton and Layla wanted a Hawaiian Luau party.  Not princesses, not cars, not cartoon characters...  Hawaii.  Kendra and I are all about making their dreams come true so why not?  Morgan added her personal touch and knowledge of Hawaiian culture by creating our door sign to welcome guests.

Kendra and Ouma and Christy turned our backyard into a Hawaiian paradise with a food spread of epic proportions.  

 Tam blessed us with her creative talents by providing her artistic face painting services.  As you can see she was a big hit and great success based on the line of kids who were more excited about getting their face painted than playing the other games.

Layla likes cats.  She pretends to be a kitty with Easton and that was the first choice on her list of how to have her face painted.

We invited an eclectic mix of friends.  Mostly people (kids) who are a part of Easton and Layla's life.  Rather than meet the obligations of inviting all of their classmates or our friends we decided to invite people who mean the most to the twins.  Here is Will's mom and Colton's mom with Kendra. 

There was some reference to a show called "the new girl" or something like that for the picture of Marisue and Kendra.  

Kendra baked homemade cupcakes with umbrellas instead of a traditional cake.  The frosting was the best part.  I know this because kids were licking it off like the creamy center of an oreo cookie before devouring the cake part.

We sang Happy Birthday separately, once for each kid.  Instead of giving them each a party we just gave each one the chance to hear their own birthday song.

Always good to have Scott and Marisue hang out with us.  Now they have their own set of twins so our time together is even more limited than when it was just us trying to juggle life and twins.  We are glad to see the four of them with their healthy hearts.

Easton made a new friend today.  Her name is Payton and she is the sister of Layla's friend Lulu.  Easton and Payton have the same personality type (calm, aware, mature) which led to an incredibly quick forming friendship.  They met, realized the other person was similarly even keeled, then played together for a couple of hours among the chaotic crazies.   

Today as he and I climbed South Mountain he said, "I miss Payton.  She is my friend."  I can't argue with that!

Kendra's ingenious idea for a party included a bounce house with a slide.  That turned out to be the single most awesome focal point for any kid-friendly birthday party I've ever been to.  Kids of all ages bounced and slid the day away for over three hours.  The twins will remember this day forever because of the extraordinary fun environment and also the coolest bounce house (rented) they've ever seen.

We also threw in some other fun games including boccie ball and hula hoops.  Kendra and I will never get too old to have fun.  Maturing is knowing when to act like a kid.  :)  

Speaking of acting like a kid...  The day was all about Easton and Layla even more than normal at the Casa de Webb.  After the crowd died down I joined in for the sliding and bouncing.  Easton's smile and happiness about riding down the slide together with me made the whole day worth the expense and effort.  This is what I call getting down on his level and engaging him for the sole purpose of showing him love.

Life is an adventure and some days are more adventurous than others.  See you soon!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Valentines

Howdy friends and family,

This time of year is when Kendra and I feel like ships passing in the night where we are two hard-working individuals who happen to sleep in the same bed at night.  It's not because of a lack in love or romance.  Those things are well in order and her love bank account is in positive territory.  The situation arises because we are in a low section of our cyclical discretionary time.  This too shall pass.  for now I at least have the blog as my primary tool of procrastination.  

I don't think I shared this picture previously, but it's my favorite in many months of Easton.  He is a handsome boy with a happy heart.  I'm starting to see small fruits of our efforts from years of consistent guiding and teaching.  

I won free tickets to see the Phoenix Coyote's hockey game against the Blackhawks.  We picked an awesome game to see as our first hockey experience.  The place was sold out and we were treated to an extra special ceremony where Jeremy Roenick was celebrated with his name unveiled in the "ring of honor".

And the coolest part was a fight broke out within the first 5 minutes of the game!  The Coyote's won but I had such a great time regardless of who was winning.  I probably won't get season tickets any time soon, but if offered free tickets I will definitely go again!

Kendra spent another day with Easton and Layla at their school.  First for Easton's birthday then for Layla's and then a third time to assist for Valentine's Day.  They sat in a circle and exchanged Valentine cards with their pals.  Easton had "Puss in Boots" themed cards to give and Layla's were...  Disney princesses.  Surprise, surprise!

Easton was more excited than Layla to receive the special notes from his class.  Their personalities are sometime polar opposites.  Layla craved the social interaction and Easton thrived on the personal notes (gifts) he was given.

Earlier that morning the 4 Webbs ate a delicious Valentine's breakfast (compliments of Kendra).  She found ultra-cheap plastic bowls and cups on sale.  Layla was really impressed with the spread as she pointed out each item and the heart shapes.

Easton chowed down barely taking a moment to notice the special accommodations.  His appetite swung from "barely there" to "ferocious" within the past few days. Growth spurt?  You betcha.

I took the twins out to the green belt for an owl hunting expedition.  Hootie, our neighborhood owl, comes out at dusk on occasion, but this night had no chance because of group of rowdy boys playing football in the green belt.  We searched anyway listening for any hint of the "whoooooo" noise.  At least we found flowers! After this picture below, Layla put the flower behind my ear and I wore it that way in public for the next 3 hours without knowing it was there.  That explains some of the interesting looks I received!

Our friend Christy is coming into town Thursday.  Ouma and Oupa will arrive on Friday for a week-long stay at the Casa de Webb.  Our house will be buzzing with craziness, but I'm really looking forward to their visit.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Newborn Parenting Advice

Greetings friends and family,

Before our twins were born advice was easy to come by.  Every person with a child seemed to think they were an expert just because their child was still alive after a year.  Two weeks before Easton and Layla were born I was at the point of anxiety.   I knew they were coming, but had NO clue how to prepare, what to buy, or what to expect.  Then I received the best gift a newborn dad could ever get:  Valuable advice from someone with experience, education, passion, and a personal interest in my success.  

When the day of Easton and Layla's birth arrived I was light years ahead of other dads partially because of Joanie's efforts to equip me.

My sister took three hours of her precious time to document the basics of newborn care.  I'm not sure where she got it or the sources she used.  I don't really care either.  Bottom line is that her advice is truth we applied to our lives as new parents with great results.  I didn't intentionally horde the best advice ever given to a parent.  I was just so busy living by it day to day that I didn't think to share the wisdom.  Now, after four years of parenting I read through it with a smile on my face remembering how some scenarios played out successfully because of our adherence to the advice.  Now I can vouch for the value and accuracy of the content.  I'm no hero, just good at following direction!  So here it is...

The Best Advice No One Ever Told You in Parenting Class

1.  DELIVERY:  The aim of delivery is to get the baby out., but afterward, your aim is to get the poop out!  During delivery, you get pumped full of drugs and fluids and your digestive system is totally out of whack. In order to get a final release from the hospital, you have to prove that your digestive system is all in working order…so, whatever you do…eat fiber!  You want comfort food, but do your best to eat veggies and drink water instead.  Make a Hot Concoction of ½ Prune juice and ½ Apple juice and heat it up in the microwave….It is like an apple cider drink. Drink 3 each day you’re in the hospital and while you’re on pain medicines, and you’ll have less problems getting the bowel movement that you’re already dreading.

2.  GOING HOME:  Don’t plan anything for the evening you get home.  You’ll want your comfy bed.  You’ll need the rest, just to recoup from the transition to home.  And if you have ANY energy left, you’ll want to take pictures of the babies, so forget about having too many visitors on that day.  Let your family take care of you, hold the babies and keep things tranquil at home.  Ditto for the first full day home.

3.  HUGGIES GENTLE CARE WIPEES:  These sensitive skin wipees are soo soft and much better on a sore penis and fresh newborn baby bottoms than any other.  Splurge on these, at least for the first few weeks to ensure that you don’t have chapped hineys.

4.  BABY BATH TOWEL TRICK:  It is always hard to get a slippery baby out of the tub.  Here’s how to do it successfully. First, get a hooded bath towel.  Put a hook on the bathroom wall close to the reach of the tub, so anytime you need the towel, you can get it without letting go of the baby in the water.  Then, put the corner of the hood between your teeth, ready to put the baby in it.  Then you can use two hands to grab the baby out of the tub and pull the baby to your chest.  Then easily wrap the towel around him/her and put the hood over his/her head.  Viola!

5.  DIAPER PAILS:  There are NO pails which eliminate enough poo odor to keep the pails in the baby’s room.  (unless you want the house to smell like a litter box, don’t leave any diapers in the house overnight). There are many fancy diaper pails, with elaborate or simple bags and levers.  Don’t believe that this will help. Save your money for diapers or put the $40.00 in their college fund!!  These diaper pails are a pain to change, they will stink anyway, and the bags get expensive to buy for two years of diapers….I recommend simply buying a big box of sandwich zipbags that you can keep in the drawer of the changing table and can easily put in your diaper bag.  Every poo diaper needs to go into a sandwich bag and you’ll have a sweeter smelling room.  They are cheap, easy to use and you can take your dirty diapers to your kitchen trash can.  Just make sure it has a good LID and take it out each day.  No problem, no stinky nursery.  

6.  BABY CARRIER:  Carry your baby everyday in a carrier or a sling, even for just a few minutes….Start when they are little so they are used to it and so your back can easily manage their weight.  After they are bigger, it will be easy to carry them anywhere and keep your hands free.

7.  WHITE SOCKS:  Baby socks are a huge pain to keep together.  If you are like me, you lose even the sock mates to LARGE socks.  It  gets even harder when you have tiny socks and different kinds.  TWO suggestions:  1.  Buy white socks---all the same kind and all the same size and easily keep them together. Or  2.  Buy a pack of big safety pins, and keep them in a little basket in their dresser.  When you remove the matching socks, pin them together and then toss them into your laundry basket.  This will keep boy socks, or pink ruffly socks together, and are easier for doing laundry.  This small step saves a lot of hassle if you have lots of kinds of little socks.

8.  BABY TOY TOSSERS:  Babies are great at losing toys.  They toss them into carts at the store, onto the sidewalk as you walk, etc.  Little baby toys are essential for the car seat, the diaper bag, the play yard, the floor, etc, but you will lose lots of them unless you do the following:  Buy only toys that have a loop or some way to be hooked onto the Sassy rings.  (Buy at Target).  Connect these rings together to make baby chains to hook onto things.  Trade the toys on the end of the chain to surprise your little one.  Always keep at least one baby ring hooked onto the toy so you can quickly snatch it up and hook it onto a chain. My favorite baby chain is connected to my baby carrier (Baby Bjourn) and anytime we’re in a store or on a walk, there is a toy connected that Daphne can play with.  This keeps “Store Boredom” from hitting when you’re in the middle of Walmart and keeps you from leaning over picking up toys everywhere you go.

9.  INSTANT HAND FOAM:  My favorite is Bath and Body Works Kids Instant Hand Foam.  It’s much easier to use than the Purel liquid sanitizers.  The foam doesn’t leak out into your diaper bag. It doesn’t drip out of your hand and slime your clothes.  It even smells nice.  It is a fun way to share new scents with your baby, when he/she hasn’t even started eating foods yet.  I keep a bottle of this in the diaper bag, in the car console, in my purse, etc.  The boys even keep one in their car seat pockets.  We have a rule that EVERYONE washes their hands when we get into our car seats, before we start the car.  This is great when we’ve gone to church and everyone has “shaken hands” with our baby to touch her, and the boys are in the habit, so after school, after the park, etc, everyone uses it.  We are kind of wack-o about cleanliness (blame my doctor hubby), but regardless, we haven’t been as sick as most people…I like to think that our expensive hand foam makes the difference, especially during cold and flu season.  And, there are times, in public restrooms, that you just want to get out of the door, instead of keeping your sweet little ones in a filthy place.  But, you need to wash your hands.  This foam is good and not too harsh on your hands to use it a lot.  Fun flavors.  You can get them 3 for $10.00.

10.  CHANGING TABLE:  Keep one special toy on the changing table.  When they are little, show it to them every time you change their diaper in the daytime.  Daphne has a cute ladybug plastic brush that she loves to look at, and now holds.  I show her and she’s happy with changing time.  I can get the diaper changed with no complaints, she doesn’t put her hands in the diaper business or try to roll around, and she gets to hold her ladybug brush.

11.  SONGS:  Transitions are tough for little ones…getting in carseats, moving to the highchair, going to the swing, going to bedtime.  I suggest that you choose a special song for each of these occasions.  When it is time to go somewhere, we say “Time to go Bye-Bye” and sing a car song.  Daphne has more quickly learned what is happening because she is happy with the song and relates it to the activity. 

Bath song---splish splash, or This is the way we wash your hair”
Play yard---Itsy bitsy spider
Nite-nite—Jesus Loves Me
High Chair—“Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy”  (Wiggles song)  “Green beans, Yummy yummy!”  “Orange carrots, yummy yummy!” 

12.  SIGN LANGUAGE: It is amazing that Daphne is only 10 months old and knows so many signs already.  Bye bye, more, all done, thank you, etc.”Open them, shut them” song..  When Eli was 1, when other kids were screaming at their moms at the dinner table, he was politely signing complete sentences…”Thank you, food, Mommy.”  “More, juice, please”

13.  THE MOMENT:  Part of the difficulty of parenting is figuring out what needs to be done.  By the time you realize that it is feeding time, diaper changing time, etc, the kid is screaming about it.  It is easier to manage the “moment” if you give them something to show them that you understand.  For example, when Daphne hollers that she’s hungry, I give her one of her little SPOONS.  She holds it, plays with it, and chews on it, knowing that I’m busy getting food for her. This keeps me sane, instead of listening to the bellowing for the entire 5 minutes that it takes me to get her food together.  Think of other “transitional” objects that you can teach them…or transitional songs to pacify them.

14.  FOOD:  It is so cute to get the feeding bibs (the big ones) the spoons, the formula and the baby food.  Most parents get the food, put it into the pantry, get the bibs, put them in the baby drawer in the bedroom, get the spoons and put them with the utensils, etc….This causes feeding confusion for you. And, it will be a long time (months!!) before you all sit down together and share a meal at the same time, and use the same utensils, food, etc.  So. I recommend you get one cabinet in the kitchen that you use for ALL baby things related to feeding.  Then when you empty the dishwasher, it all goes into the same area.  When you need to feed the baby, everything it at your fingertips, and you can easily put the entire meal together without running to the bedroom for the bibs, and across the kitchen for the formula.  All in ONE spot makes sense.

15. WASHING BABY BIBS:  When you take a bib off the baby, connect the Velcro before putting it in the hamper.  This will help the bibs NOT to snag other clothing or items in the washing machine.  I find it is easy to wash all the feeding bibs with my towels, to keep all the sweet potatoes off the light pink clothing.

16.  WHEN YOUR INFANT IS UPSET:  learn to “Shush” it---mom can show you and it works!!!  And, learn to do the “Daddy Dance”---Bron, hold your hand out, as if receiving money.  Lay the baby, face down, on your forearm.  Your hand is holding his/her chest, butt up at your elbow pit, and head is kind of drooping down.  Stand up, dance your best slow dance and put the baby to sleep.  WHEN YOUR LITTLE ONE IS UPSET:  Tell him/her a story!  I have found that Daphne is so interested in my “story-telling” voice and it keeps her attentive and calm.  Start with a story you know and love.  Use interesting voices and sound affects to keep them listening to you.  Now, Daphne loves to “Knock” when I tell the story of Goldilocks and pretends to run when I tell the Gingerbread Man.  Classic stories have a rhythm to them. The stories that repeat phrases, such as “SOMEBODY’s been sitting in my chair!!” or “Huff and I’ll puff..”, are great for learning vocabulary and for teaching them the cadence of language.

17.  PHOTO BOOKS:  Get a little photo book for babies and put pictures of familiar objects and people.  (favorite cup, daddy, mommy, sister, sock, favorite ball, bathtub).  Show this book to your baby and say the picture names.  This book will always be your baby’s favorite.  Change it as you are teaching new vocabulary.  This month we took Daphne to the zoo for the first time.  Now, she knows the elephant and giraffe and monkeys, and recognizes the pictures I took of them with a gleeful squeal.  (Make it personal and your baby will learn so much more.)

18.  PLACE FOR EVERYTHING:  Get a bench or make a place in your house for baby gear. (It isn’t easy to store all you need in the baby’s room.)  You need an accessible place for diaper bags (right as you enter the house? Or a bench in baby’s room), where you can open them, sort baby things, add stuff, etc). 

19.  EMERGENCY STASH:  Make an emergency stash in the trunk or under a seat in your car for the essentials.   (powdered formula packet, cup, bottle of water, diapers in the right size, baby jammies (in case of severe blow-out #2), wipees (lots) and a T-shirt for Mom.  There will be sometime when you will need this and you’ll be thankful for it. Later on, add a few jars of baby food and a bib.  Amazing how many times I’ve used my “emergency” stash. Last week I was quickly running out the door, forgot the diaper bag altogether and then had a poopy diaper to change in the preschool pick-up car line…Boy was I glad for my “stash”.

20.  EMERGENCY NUMBERS:  If you do not have a “CHAD” sticker, get one “every Child Has An Identity” for your carseat.  This lists the baby’s name, your name, emergency numbers, etc.  This is important in case you are ever in an accident and YOU are the one hurt.  You have two people who are depending on you now, so if you are in an accident, make sure that the emergency providers can calm the babies by knowing their names and knowing how to get ahold of the emergency contacts for YOU.

21.  DOCTOR’S NOTEBOOK:  Begin a small notebook (small 3 ring binder, perhaps), that you can put all  info about your doctor visit.  I know many mothers who do not do this and they can’t remember the dates of the ear infection, track allergy season, or remember other important details.  You THINK you won’t forget these important details, but with less sleep, you might…Just make a note on a page each time you go to the doctor, list your questions that were answered, write the weight/height details (for scrapbooking or baby book, LATER!!), and also write down any suggestions from the doctor, medicines prescribed, etc.  Through the year, if you see symptoms, write them down in this book (croup the first week of Oct), or wheezing after cat exposure, or trip to the mountains, rash after raspberries, etc.  Moms who do this throughout their kids’ childhoods will more quickly discover allergy connections and be able to get the medicines needed.  Also, it will keep two babies info more separate for you. (Just get a tab to separate the sections for Baby 1 and 2, perhaps??)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Breakfast with Big Time

This morning I shuffled like a zombie towards the North wing of the house to see who, if anyone, is stirring.  I discovered smiley-faced Easton getting his day started.  He turned on the bedroom light all by himself, which is a feat because the remote control is stationed higher up on the wall than a normal light switch.  He changed from his diaper to big boy underwear, put on his house slippers and was sitting quietly in his bedroom floor reading Planet Earth.  The book is filled with, "answers to fundamental questions about the human body, animals, planet Earth and the Solar System" according to the description.  Sounds like light reading for a four-year-old, right?

Layla is slightly sick with a snotty nose and low-grade fever.  We let Layla and Kendra sleep in while the two of us sat down to breakfast.  Easton showed his gratitude for sharing my Cookie Crisp cereal by giving me a big hug and saying, "I love you bigger than the whole sun." That made my day!  Anything else good that happens today will be icing on the cake.

Then he launched a barrage of questions that are probably abnormally inquisitive for a preschooler.  He asked:

What do red blood cells do?
What would happen if you didn't have intestines?
Why do barn owls eat mice?
Where does wind come from?

Breakfast felt like a lightning round of jeopardy and I had no computer or smart phone close by to confer with Google.  Even so, I did great until final jeopardy. He asked, "Why does Professor Zundapp want to blow up Lightning McQueen?"  How do you explain a complex movie plot to someone with no concept of hate, revenge, or evil?  I would have lost my wagered bet if this were Jeopardy.

The morning was a success because we shared quality one-on-one time.  He loves to learn and I love to teach. This stage in Easton's life is incredibly fun and fulfilling for me.  He has such a tender heart and open mind.  I'm doing everything in my power to protect his heart and fill his mind.

I found a short video clip that describes a big missing piece of the educational / learning puzzle.  The biggest tool I want to put in Easton's hands is divergent thinking.  Here's the teaser for the video...  Did you know that ninety-eight percent of kindergartners scored at genius level for divergent thinking?  When adults are given the divergent thinking test, only two percent test at the genius level.  This means my job as a parent is to not screw it up.  

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms

See you soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Layla's Birthday Celebration

Greetings friends and family,

Thursday was Layla's turn for the big birthday celebration at school.  See the Minnie Mouse dress?  Daddy and Layla picked that out at the second-hand store together during our shopping spree last week.  

One of her exciting duties in class was the privilege of holding the flag for the pledge of allegiance.  Thank God they can still say that in school.  Makes me proud of them for respecting the flag and our country.

We also had to buy a pair of black tights because she wore holes in the knees of her old ones while rough housing on the playground at school during the previous week.  She already has a strong tendency to fit in well as a dressed-up princess and an outdoor play time girl.  

See what I mean?  The picture above is her dancer look.  She holds her arm out straight with her hand flat and moves her shoulders to the beat of whatever song is playing.

I knew she would enjoy her special day in the spot light.  A blessing of the situation is how Kendra was able to be there in class and interact with Layla and her class for the day.  A true princess complete with her crown!

Layla's idea of a pajama party includes blankets, cuddling, and TV.  We've been watching science movies about electricity, Planet Earth movies about caves, and the occasional re-run of Cars 2 since Easton is such a big fan.  

Easton is noticeably absent from the pictures and blog post because he's been sick.  His energy level and tolerance level have been very low for the past couple of days.  He perks up about some things such as finding a gecko lizard in our front yard.

 I turned over a big rock to fix a sprinkler head while my two helpers prepared to shovel some dirt and gravel.  The gecko froze and Easton grabbed for it as soon as I brought their attention to it.  You might notice the bloody stump where his tail used to be...  We're still working on what "gentle" means.  It wasn't malicious at all, but these guys have fragile tails.  I comforted the twins by explaining how the lizard tail will grow back.  They let this little guy crawl around on their arms for a several minutes.

We also went bug hunting just the day before in the green belt.  We found ants, pill bugs, spiders, crickets, and a grub worm.  These discoveries were like finding diamonds or gold for Easton.  Each new creepy crawly creature scampering away from us was exciting for the twins.  So much to learn...

See you soon!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fore! I mean, FOUR!

Happy Birthday to Easton and Layla!

The twins finally turned four today and we had a wildly successful birthday thanks to Kendra's hard work and my...  showing up and participating.  I went in late to the office and then took off work early to spend as much time as possible with them.  Besides, there's no need to be late twice in the same day.  that was a joke about arriving late and leaving early, in case you didn't catch that.  

Anyway, I caught a quick picture as they headed out the front door for school.  Easton in his business-casual  wear and Layla with her lovely curls and dress.  

Earlier that morning Kendra took a few extra minutes to add some bounce to Layla's hair for their special birthday day at school.  Actually, Easton has HIS special day at school because the teacher is smart enough to give each student their own special day.  Layla's will be Thursday.

Easton was the line leader, and enjoyed many other privileges on his big day including wearing a crown and giving goodie bags to his classmates.  Kendra was able to attend the class and watch as he shined in his 15 minutes of fame.  

For their birthday dinner the 4 Webbs went to Rustler's Rooste at their request.  Free bullhorn hats were big hit.  

Kendra and I have been promising them the chance to eat Rattlesnake for several weeks.  The twins were excited until the plate arrived.  You can tell by the concerned look on their face that this was going to take some serious bravery.

Only took a couple of minutes to explain the snake bones and lead by example as we ate the little pieces.  Then they dove in and ate the whole thing (except the bones and lettuce) especially once they realized the bowl of sauce is Ranch dressing.  The twins will eat anything if given the chance to dunk it in sauce.  The rattlesnake eating proves my previous sentence is not an exaggeration.

Layla learned to pose somewhere.  I'm not sure where, but she's getting a little too good at it.  Batting her eyelashes and tilting her head down with a sheepish smile.  Then the shoulder turn thew me for a loop because that's a little over the top.  After 15,000 pictures per year for 4 years it's easy to see why she's comfortable around the camera.

The best part of dinner for Easton was the cotton candy on fire.  Mr. Earth Science Boy was in awe as his two favorite things were in the same bucket.  The amazement of fire and the sweet dessert.  he went to town on the cotton candy and they both turned into a sticky mess.

Then the grand finale of the experience was the big slide in the restaurant.  They made 20 or so runs before we had to make room for other kids.  This is my favorite picture of the week because nothing warms my heart more than seeing Easton and Layla happy.

We stepped outside on the patio, which sits high up on a hill overlooking the entire town.  We watched the sun set during dinner so by the time we took the picture it was already dark.

At home we did the official cake and celebration.  Thanks to technology Ouma, Oupa, and GG were able to join us via Skype on the laptop.

Kendra gave an extra effort to make them their desired cakes.  Easton with Lightning McQueen and Mater. Layla with Disney princesses and pink frosting.  I enjoy their birthday this year more than any birthday I've had for the past 20 years.

They opened a few presents, which included every Disney princess for Layla and a completion of the Cars 2 matchbox cars for Easton.

Last Sunday as I helped Layla get ready for church I noticed she didn't have many dresses in her closet.  She out-grew all of them and we didn't inherit any from our hand-me-down friends.  She has plenty of clothes and many princess costumes, but that's not the same as church clothes.  

I gladly took her out on a Daddy Date to remedy the situation.  We stopped by to get slurpees because she seems to think that is extra special when the two of us get one without Easton.  Then we did some serious shopping.  She gathered two rounds of 15 or so dresses and I helped her try them one.  This one was a winner.  More importantly, I see how she looks at herself in the mirror and smile with a grateful heart.  That look, in case you can't tell, is confidence.  pure confidence.  

She is absolutely convinced she is the most beautiful girl in the world with or without the dress.  My main role as a father for Layla is to call out her femininity and love her unconditionally.  I will achieve this purpose by meeting her three biggest needs:   Attention, Affection, and Approval.  a.k.a The Triple A's.  Those three words repeat in my head like a broken record continually when I'm around Layla.  It's very simple: I know what her needs are and I am equipped to meet them.  End of story.  Her self-esteem is my responsibility alone until the day I give her away to her husband-to-be.  Between now and then I can measure my success by the way she looks at herself in the mirror.

Except when Daddy picks out an ugly dress like this one.

That is the face of a disappointed Layla.  She said, "Daaaaad...  This dress is too buttony."  I agreed and she couldn't get it off fast enough.  I never expected to create a four-year-old fashionista, but here she is critiquing the dresses.

We walked down the line of dresses as she blasted dress after dress.  "Too flowery, too green, too ruffly...  This one, please!" she said.  Then repeat over and over until we looked at every dress in the store.  The two of us had a great time together.  She remembers our one on one time more than anything.  She fondly reminisces about our outings, which means this is her love language.

See you soon!