Monday, April 30, 2012

Ultimate Boy's Time - Day 1

Howdy friends and family,

The days after camping were so hectic I didn't even have time recover on sleep so blogging took a back seat.  I wanted to blog as soon as possible while the details were fresh in my mind.  Easton and I had an unbelievably awesome time together.  My expectations were already really hyped, but the trip was so great it even exceeded the expectations.  Camping was always fun growing up, but watching Easton experience things is so much more fulfilling.

I won't get through our trip in one post so let me get started by sharing what the girls did recently.  Kendra's New York trip was well worth it.  The spa day relaxation and night life excitement proved to be a good recharge for her batteries and time away from our house.  I know she says she missed us, but i was hoping she could completely forget about us and just have a good time.  Here she is in central park with the tall buildings framing the green trees.

Layla wanted to go camping with us so bad.  She cried immediately when I was explaining how it was a boys only trip.  Kendra had to come up with some creative things to do so her girl's time balanced out with our trip.

Tea parties are a great way to have some mother-daughter interactions.  Layla enjoyed the dress-up part and getting ready as much as the event itself.  Kendra obviously taught her the basics well.  Check out the pinky finger and proper form!

I didn't approve of putting on fake nails, but then again...  I wasn't asked.  I'm just kidding.  It was Kendra's right to make the executive decision and  Layla loved every minute of the pampering.

They went on a few outings, but mostly spent the time playing games indoors.

The camp out was action packed from the moment we left the house.  In the middle of our 2-hour caravan drive to the desert we stopped to eat In-N-Out burger.

I would never advocate allowing a 4-year-old boy to drive a car.   Not even on a dirt road in the middle of the desert where it feels like a bumpy roller coaster.  Not even if he would feel like Lightening McQueen drifting across a dirt track.  Hmmmm....

Easton is a true city boy.  On the dirt roads he asked, "Why is the dirt in the air?"  I had to explain how dust from the tires is kicked up and covers the cars.  Seems odd to me being a hillbilly, but if you've never seen a dirt road I can understand why that would be difficult to comprehend.

We arrived at the camp site safely and then set it up.  The dads set up camp and kids ran around like crazy chickens.  They had to be careful to avoid the copious number of ants and many cacti.  Chad dug a monster fire pit.

The boys were given a squirt gun and the adults took turns filling the guns.

Jaden brought a battery powered dirt bike.  I was impressed by how long the battery lasted and how well the other boys did in riding it.  Easton was the youngest by 6 months to a year from the other 3 boys, but he fit in great.  Jaden gave Easton a ride on the back of the dirt bike and I'll post the video of it in a few days.

I took a picture of the heart-pounding joy ride.  You can tell by the huge smile on his face that he loved every second of it.  What I learned from this experience was that his risk taking capacity is greatly influenced by his peers.  God help us....

Snack time was drastically different than sitting around the kitchen table at home.  He learned it is OK to throw food on the ground, spit tooth paste on the ground, pee on the ground, lay on the ground, and many other useful "camping only" situations.  Easton sitting next to me in his camp chair was priceless.

Here's a picture of our campsite with the fire pit and scenery in the background.  The foliage was NOT friendly, but desert camping isn't about being comfortable, it is about adapting and finding a way to function in the environment.

The boys took several long hikes and this particular hike was down the trail to an area where we shot our guns.  We brought several ranging from 22 rifles to Glock 9mm pistols.

The amount of animals we encountered in the wild was phenomenal.  Most people wouldn't think much of seeing a cow, but this was Easton's first time to see animals roaming wildly.  We saw spiders, lizards, cows, birds, ants, beetles, and many other creatures we won't find around our house.  

Easton fired off an entire clip of 22 bullets in quick, semi-automatic fashion.  He earned his big-boy badge of bravery right then.  No fear, no hesitation, just an excitement to shoot at the targets and handle a real gun.

Even though Layla was a hundred miles away, Easton still had to share because the other 3 boys liked his dual-seat camping chair.

One of the benefits of sharing was that he played with several toys he otherwise would not have seen.  He ran the batteries down on the remote control truck as he drove around the camp site.  He has one of these in a box at home.  I've just been waiting for the right time to give it to him.  After seeing how much he loved driving this one around I really want to give him his own soon.

The desert cooled off quickly so we bundled up with clothes and gathered around the fire for dinner.

The sunset was glorious.  As soon as it dropped below the horizon we started hearing noises never heard around our urban neighborhood.

Coyotes, cows, and strange birds made the evening interesting because Easton was constantly listening for the next creature in the distance.  For the first time I can remember Easton said, "Can I go to bed?"  He consistently is in his bed around 8:00-8:30 at home.  This day was so incredibly exhausting that he requested to go to bed right on time, 8:15.  I could tell he wanted to stay up with the rest of us, but he ran out of gas.  In our tent we each had an air mattress and sleeping bag.  The sleeping accommodations were well planned and well used, but I didn't get into a deep sleep for even one minute that night.  Such a strange environment with strange sounds...  Easton woke up with the sun at 5:45 AM.  Nooooooo!  I just wanted to sleep, but he was refueled and ready to take on the world.  I'll save that for the next blog post.

See you soon!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Big Boy Celebration

Greetings friends and family,

I'm extremely excited about the adventure we are about to undertake.  Easton and I are going desert camping with several other father / son friends.  This will be the first chance I have to start calling him out into manhood.  Rites of passage, tests of bravery, and new experiences will be the order of the day... and night.

We both woke up extra early today because of the anticipation.  We made the most of our morning by jointly cooking breakfast for Layla and Mommy.  4 Webbs and 4 toaster slots.  It's the perfect toaster for us! 

Easton asked for the Spiderman shirt and since it was $5 I bought it for him.  I explained that he must wait until the day we go camping because it will be his camp shirt.  Today is the big day, so Spiderman it is.  The Pilot is packed with all manner of camping supplies.  Most of which haven't been used in 5-10 years.  I tested the air matresses still hold air, but I didn't bother to put up the tent to make sure it is still in one piece.  Guess we'll see when we get there! 

Live-blogging the adventure would be nice, but we will be way out of cell phone range.  Kendra and Layla have their own special plans while the boys are away.  Easton and Layla made the connection during breakfast that tonight they will not sleep in the same house.  They hugged and sadly described how much they will miss each other.  Tonight is the first time they will not sleep under the same roof.  Easton will mention several times how much he misses Layla and I can understand why.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We Made It! Barely.

Hello friends and family,

I knew I would make it through 4 days without my best friend around because I wanted her to miss me.  I knew I would make it without my wife around because we are still individuals with our own hobbies and adventures.  However, I knew I would NOT make it without the mother of my twins around and I was right.  What surprised me most was how long my patience lasted.  All the way to day 4, which is a great success!  Easton ignored me several times when I asked him to do (or stop doing) simple things.  Layla lost it completely in a public restroom and threw a temper tantrum right there on the floor.   There were some difficult moments to navigate, but peace, love, and patience was flowing in a way I never knew it could.  Even though they had "quiet" time I was still in the same house hearing them play so that got old after day 2.

Other than those spikes of challenges, our time together was outstanding.  We made some great memories by adventuring as well as the quantity of time of reading books together and playing cars and princesses.  I was with both them every second of every day for the entire 13 hours of awake time (they sleep 8pm - 7 am).  I don't think I want to do that again for a while.  Even just taking a break to go work out at the gym for an hour would have made all the difference in the world.

Things I learned:
1.  The break I give Kendra from the time I walk in the door from work to the time they go to bed is as crucial to her emotional and mental well-being as I expected.
2.  I should help out with chores that involve major appliance more often because I was clueless when it came to the oven, dish washer, and washing machine.  The washing machine is so advanced it was singing The Star-Spangled Banner, but wouldn't launder the clothes to save my life.
3.  The twins missed Kendra almost as much as I did.  I know this because they frequently said, "I miss mommy" and "How many more hours until Mommy comes home?"

I made a family announcement today that Easton and I will be going on a boys only camping trip!  A  few other fathers with young sons invited us to join them and I moved my schedule and life and Earth to make time for such an epic occasion.   Layla was completely distraught until Kendra described their "girl's night" with a tea party, movie outing, and other girly stuff...  whatever they do for girl time.  Anyway, I took Easton to REI to develop my camping supplies list.  he jumped in the tent and got really excited at the idea of looking at the stars while laying in bed.

He also tried on a new helmet and said he wants this one for his next bike helmet because his Toy Story 3 helmet is for "little boys".

I'm more excited about the upcoming camping trip than I have been about any single event with Easton since his birth.  These are the events that give me a platform to call him out into manhood a little at a time.

I found this awesome 2 minute 45 second video clip showing a girl growing up from birth to 12 years old.  It's amazing how watching Easton and Layla grow up goes the same speed as this video.

See you soon!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wifeless in Phoenix

Hi friends and family,

The title of wifeless in Phoenix is a play on the old movie, Sleepless in Seattle.  Kendra is in New York City for 4 days of child-less adventures.  I'm home with the twins and proudly report the house didn't burn down!  We are having a blast together.  We had a few meltdowns. By "we" I mean Layla.  The biggest success of the week is how my patience has been deeper than the ocean and wider than the smile on my face when Kendra arrives home tomorrow night.  

We hit triple digits, 100 degrees, in Phoenix this week.  Although it's not a record, it was way above normal.  The benefit to the heat is an early opening of the Webb pool.  The water temp is 81 degrees, but Easton and Layla are so spoiled living in Phoenix that they shivered a little now and then.  I'm starting to sound like an old man when I say, "when I was your age all we had was a muddy pond...  and it was cold...  all year long!"  as if their 4-year-old minds can possibly comprehend that.  

I didn't just supervise either.  I joined in their water gun-toting, noodle-slapping playtime.

In order to get them revved up for the pool we took a morning hike to the second peak of South Mountain.   Nobody cried and nobody bled.  That's a successful hike at this stage.  They begged me to carry them after climbing so much altitude, but I assured them the hike down was not nearly as difficult.  They agreed to give it a try and just as I promised it was a breeze to jog down.

On another pool day we were blessed with a new face or two around our house.  Aiden and his dad, Matt.  Aiden is 7, but the age gap was not an issue when it came to swimming and play time with the twins.  He is their new super hero and favorite playmate.  

We joined them for a tasty dinner at Macayo's. It turned out to be a great restaurant for 3 rambunctious kids because it was so loud we blended right in.

Here's a picture I don't think I posted from when Ouma and Oupa visited.  Every time we pass a golf course the twins say, "Oupa plays golf.  Remember when he teached me how to play?"  Easton was excited to get a lesson from Oupa.  I'm excited because the next Master's champion may be sleeping down the hall from me as we speak.

With Kendra out of town I had to figure out how to turn the stove on and run the dish washer.  We've lived here for 6 months and this was the first time I used either one.  That is so sad and I'm embarrassed to even admit how well Kendra takes care of us.  If you're spoiled and you know it clap your hands...  (clap, clap).

We wore hats the past few days because I like to keep the sun off their faces as much as possible.  While we waited for the car to roll through the wash they wanted to trade hats and laugh at ourselves in the window's reflection.  Why not?

I'm actively teaching Easton and Layla two specific concepts and finally have a way to explain what and why:

1.  Avoid abandonment.  If we are out somewhere and it's time to go I never, ever, ever say, "OK I'm going to leave you."  This is intentional parenting because I don't want Easton or Layla to feel abandonment.  Instead, I say, "OK, we are leaving together.  Say good-bye to (fill in the blank)."  One of the greatest fears of a child is being left behind or getting lost.  I want Easton and Layla to know I will never leave them and I'll always be there for them.  Using words like never and always should be used sparingly.  Our society doesn't retain the value because they are over-used.  When it comes to abandonment, I want the always and never words to be useful.

2.  Gift vs. Good consequence.  I want them to understand what is a gift and what is a good consequence.  When I give them something where they have done nothing to merit it, I make sure they know it is a gift:  something I choose to give them because I love them and for no other reason.  A good consequence, such as the toy they get when their fuzzy jar is filled, is a reward for obedience.  When they obey they get good consequences, but a gift is unearned.  Explaining this to them early will help understand God.  I'm building their stepping stones of life one pebble at a time.

I can't believe that just happened...  As I was writing this at midnight I heard Easton calling for me.  He said the two words I despise more than any other:  "I puked".  There's Easton sitting up in his bed with yak all over the bed and him and his clothes.  Apparently Macayo's salsa didn't agree with his digestive system.  Gross!  He was concerned about his bed and what I thought, but I reassured him it's not a big deal and he'll be OK.  I stripped his bed and gave him new sheets.  After  few Nilla wafers and a slice of pita bread he said, "I feel much better".  Hopefully this is the last I hear from him tonight and he got it all out the first time.

Just having Kendra around would have made that entire situation much more tolerable.  Hurry home, my lovely wife!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome to our ool.

Greetings friends and family,

I want to find the sign that says, "Welcome to our ool.  Notice there is no 'P' in it.  Keep it that way."  

The pool is officially open for those brave enough to tolerate the chilly water.  "Those" includes Easton and Layla.  We hosed them down with sunblock and planned to let them splash around in the hot tub.  They both requested a dip in the pool instead and Kendra agreed.  This was the first time for them to solo in the pool without an adult in the water with them.  I'm amazed by how much skill they retained from the swimming lessons and last summer in the pool.  Goggles on and away they go!

Easton was more interested in the water gun than swimming laps.  He's fascinated with the science of water and how it behaves.  Especially when it involves getting Layla wet.

The daytime temps are already in the mid-90s so we are shifting to indoor fun and pool time as our play environments.  The evening is cool enough to go for walks to the neighborhood park, but during the day we hibernate in the A/C.  They requested bringing in their dump trucks from the garage.  I'm teaching Easton to ask, "Why not?" so I regularly respond to his requests with "Why not?"  if you don't ask, you don't get.  That's the basic principle of life.

Anyway, they were out of breath from running back and forth across the North wing of the house.  Layla in her princess dress, of course.

Easton grew tired of the fast pace so he talked Layla into pushing him around like Lots-O-Huggin Bear from Toy Story 3.  

I took the twins for a walk to search for Hootie the Owl, but all we found was dog poo in green belt and a dandelion.  Luckily Easton chose to give the dandelion instead of the poo as a gift.  He's a very thoughtful boy and his full fuzzy jar proves it!

Both of them earned a fuzzy today for encouraging each other.  I'm excited to see them speaking kind words to cheer each other on.  They have moments of selfishness and I still have yet to experience a day without tears, but as a work in progress I'm very pleased!

Kendra leaves for New York City in 12 hours.  Get ready for adventure time with Daddy!  I'm really happy she is going away for a few days because she needs some time away from our house, me, and the kids.  I know she'll appreciate us even more.  :)  I doubt she will miss us until the 3rd day or so.  I'm happy about that...

See you soon!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Two Sets of Twins

Greetings friends and family,

Easton and Layla are getting better at using their See Yourself Fisher Price camera.  A little more steady, a little more focused...  When we hiked the mountain Easton took this picture of me as I was taking a picture of him.  I imagine this is one of the ways Easton and Layla will remember me, always pointing a camera at them.  :)

Scott and Marisue brought their twins over for dinner and we had a great time.  Watching them navigate the 2-year-old challenges brought back so many fun memories.  Our living room turned into a disaster area with all the toys we've been holding on to for the last couple of years.  Kendra and I felt the same sense of "bring on the play time!" because those days of toy overload were some of our favorites.

Danny tried a slice of grapefruit for the first time.  Easton and Layla were wolfing down slices as fast as I could shovel them in their mouths, but Danny was not impressed one bit.

It takes time though and I remember when we first introduced new foods to Easton and Layla how they had the same reaction.

After dinner Scott had the great idea of going for a walk.  The cool evening will become a thing of the past as summer quickly approaches.  We made the most of the opportunity by bundling up the kiddos and trekking through the neighborhood.  The Chariot still works great and fits them both.  I never thought it would still be applicable for 4-year-olds, but it is!

Easton and I were wrecking our driveway with sidewalk chalk.  I took a minute to get a self portrait.  I told him to show me his  tough face and this is what we got:

He's such a happy, kind-hearted boy that I had to get him to act tough and mean just for fun.  Normally he has a face of contentment and joy.

Layla decided to ride the tough-girl trike instead of her princess bike.  She has a natural "get out of my way" personality so no acting was necessary.   If Harley-Davidson ever makes a pink princess cruiser, she'll own it.

The weekend is gone and I'm cherishing the last few days with Kendra before she heads out to New York City.  I'm dreading the 4 days alone.  Not because I can't handle it, but because that will be a lot of hours and days straight without my partner in parenting and my best friend.  I will certainly make it, but I already miss her!

See you soon.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Greetings friends and family,

The Webb house is virtually always filled with music.  Kendra and I are on a Jesus Culture bender with no signs of over-play.  Over-play is what happens when you have a favorite song and the radio plays it on repeat so much that you end up hating the song.  Our song collection is so deep that there is little chance of wearing out a song.  If I had to choose an anthem for the Webb house, it would be this song:

Today I spent a few hours of boys time with just Easton and I.  He asked me, "Why do you love me, Dad?"  At first I answered, "Because you're my son."  Then he asked, "Why am I your son?"  Thankfully, we had plenty of time of walking together for me to formulate an answer and explain it in a way he would understand.  He's a deep thinker, for sure.

Kendra is teaching Easton and Layla how to cook, for real.  I don't mean how to open a cereal box, although that will be a glorious Saturday morning when they can get their own breakfast.  They are getting individual time in the kitchen while standing on their chairs to learn the basics of cooking.  Layla makes excellent mashed potatoes!

Kendra helped the twins draw out a hop scotch pattern with sidewalk chalk.  Now that I know this is a part of the kindergarten standardized testing we'll spend extra time getting their hopping motor skills in tip-top shape.

We overused the cardboard boxes as houses, car tracks, and airports.  Consequently, our great room is packed with boxes.  Kendra made the request for us to down-size so we decided to dual-purpose one of the boxes.  One side is a race track for Lightening McQueen and the other is a newly designed airport and terminal.  We decorated it tonight and that was half the fun.  I gave them markers and they went wild coloring the runway and terminal.

The ministry Kendra and I are involved in will complete in two weeks.  I can't even begin to describe how much I'm looking forward to this busy season of our lives coming to an end.  My plan is to re-introduce myself to Kendra by shaking her hand and saying, "Hi, I'm Bronson...  Nice to meet you.  Can we get to know each other now?"

Between now and then, Kendra is going to New York for a few days with her friends and then I'm going to San Diego for a work related conference.  Not much "together" time, but tis' the season.

See you soon!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Coming Back to Life

Greetings friends and family,

I know Easter was about Jesus coming back to life, but I was close to dead myself for 5 days.  Wayne came into town and my flu symptoms went away hours before he arrived.  Easton and Layla were thrilled to have him back again so soon because he plays really well with them.  He's always been the cool uncle even when I was Easton's age.

We introduced Wayne to the concept of a splash pad.  Apparently they don't have those in Tennessee?

All three of them were soaked!  The hot afternoon temps were no match for spraying water.  Wayne's involvement gave me a chance to sit on the bench, relax, and even take a few pictures of them playing together.  Unfortunately, Wayne doesn't have children of his own.  Even so, he has a heart of gold and a way with kids though.

Easton is maturing at an accelerated rate, which is extremely cool to witness.  He's looking and acting more like a young man.  I sure hope he gets Uncle Wayne's 6-foot + genes.

We took official Easter pictures and this is the best one that turned out for Wanye and I.  I'm not sure how many decades it's been since the two of us were in a picture together, but I made sure to get one this trip.  

The twins cooperated for a completely staged, but loving affection from Easton to Layla.

Kendra looked great in her dress, but I gave a wrong look somewhere during the morning so she changed into a more "modest" dress for church.  My two most important girls in the world:

and the favorite picture of the weekend for me was Uncle Wayne with Easton and Layla.  

Wayne and I spent most of the days and nights just relaxing and conversing.  I learned a lot about him as well as my own childhood.  We took a long drive up to the top of South Mountain.  The clouds obstructed the sunset until the very last few moments, but it was still a great view.

After laying in bed for days I was excited to go anywhere and do anything.  Having Wayne stop by for a few days again on his way back through town was a real blessing.

We hid about three dozen plastic eggs in our backyard and turned the twins loose to gather the candy-filled goodies.  Every time Easton found an egg he let out a shriek of excitement.  It became so frequent and consistent we started laughing every time he did it.

One of the things I remember most about Wayne's dad (my grandpa) was having fun throwing the frisbee back and forth.  Uncle Wayne kept the tradition alive by showing the twins the correct technique.  

Today was the first day in 13 days where we didn't have company in town.  I'm not complaining at all, it's just nice to get back to the 4 Webbs for a change now that everyone is gone.  We're enjoying the seasons of life as well as whoever happens to be a part of it with us.

See you soon!