Saturday, June 30, 2012

Moooove Along

Howdy friends and family,

The 4th of July celebrations are already in full swing.  We kicked off the festivities with the annual parade and herding of cattle through downtown streets.  Easton and Layla remembered a few details of the event last year, but you can see their "impress me if you can attitude when we first arrived.

Once the people gathered and the excitement built, they were jumping around like mexican beans impatiently waiting for the parade to start.  They had the best seat in the house...  on top of Oupa's and my shoulders.

We were happy GG joined us because she brings the decades-long tradition and we get to meet some of her local friends.  Always glad to have her around...  Seeing the four generations of ladies (GG, Ouma, Kendra, Layla) together is such a treat.

Layla's fuse was lit by the flag bearer cowgirls galloping their horses past us.  Of course Layla's loud voice, expressive hand waving, and energetic smile drew responses from almost every single parade participant.

I proudly held her high and smiled along with her.  Meanwhile, Kendra and Ouma were underwhelmed by the event, but happy to be there with all of us.  Seeing this for the 20th or 30th time probably loses its sparkle so it's understandable how they can pose so glamorously while the action is rolling through town.

The twins had their eyes glued to the street waiting for the what's next in line.  Their faces show well the response to the first "impress me" picture.  they were more than impressed...  They were amazed.

After the parade we cleared out a little extra space for the real-deal rodeo portion.  About 100 head of cattle and tens of horses shuffled by without incident.  Last year a few of the cows headed out in to the crowd.  We made sure the twins were several feet behind up on a hill just in case.

Ouma and Oupa left the 4 Webbs in charge of their house while they head South to LA for a visit with their friends.  We're already looking forward to their return in a couple of days, but I'm happy they took a little mini-vacation.

We missed several weeks of park play time as the temperatures spiked in Phoenix early this spring.  Good thing we have plenty of opportunities to make up for the lost time.  According to my previous blog post, it's been exactly a year since we were here last.  The biggest difference I noticed was their drive to try new things and push their own balance boundaries.  A year ago I was encouraging them to climb and step onto new surfaces through the castle.  This year they are officially considered self-starters in this area.

I found myself being a bit over protective as they ventured out onto new territory which includes a slight risk of accident if they fell.  There are very few things that hurt me as deeply as seeing one of the twins get hurt.  Only a few bobbles and close calls came from the increased risk so I'm more comfortable than ever to let them play on the bigger kid portions of the park.  More times than not they will ask me to play with them.  I always do, but only for a portion of the time.  As soon as I stepped away and observed from across the park they were making friends with other kids.

I overheard one of the new friend's tell his older sister, "These two are our cousins now."  The sister gave him a perplexed look, but since Easton and Layla were smiling and nodding their heads she went right along with their new family member idea.

Speaking of close family...  We cheered for our adopted cousin Aimee at the  boys Major All Star Team tournament baseball game. She is one of the best players in the entire boys league and the other teams respect her as well.  She started out at first base and did great.  this poor kid didn't have a chance as she caught the out at first.

Then she stepped up to the mound and pitched a few impressive innings.  Sorry for the fuzzy spots in the pictures.  I took these through the fence.  :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Home Is Where the Kids Are

Hola friends and family,

Summer time in Sacramento includes long sleeve shirts and leggings.  This is a welcomed reprieve from the sweltering heat this time of year in Phoenix.  I fully understand why rich people have a summer and winter home.  This annual regimen is working out so well to give Easton and Layla year-around play time.  How about these smiling faces who are are obviously enjoying the cool mornings?

I'm not entirely sure of the back story of these pictures because I was not here this past weekend.  However, from the looks of things it is clear Ouma and Oupa and Kendra took great care of them.

And the twins took care of Oupa's truck as well.  No wonder he wants to be a fireman...  Kendra took some cues from the "Spoonful of Sugar" song.  Every task they undertake becomes a piece of cake.

With twins there are always two pair of hands ready to help.  They usually get different jobs in order to teach team work, but occasionally we have two rags or two hoses or two drying towels to get the job done quicker.

In the real world the reward for work is...  more work.  Not so much for Easton and Layla.  Their reward is playtime with the slip 'n slide.

Ouma and Oupa's front yard is grassy enough to get a running start and whoosh down the lanes.

We don't encourage or discourage competition between the twins.  If they want to race, then go for it.  If one or both of them don't care then so be it.  Doesn't matter who wins as long as they are having fun and remain loving through it.

Oupa gave Easton his first real-deal putter.  That's a great gift, but what really makes this special is the time invested by Oupa to teach and coach and train Easton.  Oupa said Easton was an excellent student and grasped the concepts well.  Easton practiced putting for three hours and wanted to stay longer when it was time to go.  I hope he continues to improve his golf game because it's truly a lifetime sport.

He is loving the big-boy treatment and special privileges like riding in the front seat of Oupa's truck and wearing his hat.  I keep telling Easton some day he will be taller than me and his hands will be bigger than mine.  May as well give him some extra motivation to eat his green beans.  

I wasn't around to witness the events of the past few days because I spent 4 days in Phoenix with my brother, Casey.  He and a friend came to Phoenix for a visit.  I went there to take care of things at home and work.  The timing matched up great because we were able to hang out in a kid-less environment, which hasn't happened much in the past few years.  Casey realized why people don't normally visit Phoenix in the summer time...  it was blazing hot and our 92 degree pool temperature didn't provide much relief.  One of the few benefits of Phoenix summer time is the chance to experience haboobs.  Thunder storms collapse south of town and blow a wall of dust over the entire city along with 5 drops of water.  Welcome to desert living, bro!

Even though I was technically home during the short 4 day trip to Phoenix, I really missed Kendra and the twins who were living it up in Sacramento.  

So meanwhile back at the ranch Layla is getting copious amounts of play time with her bestie Isabella.  What do two princess ballerinas do together?  Why, dance of course!

Layla attended Isabella's dance recital where some other kids performed some Wizard of Oz numbers.  I asked if she heard the Lollipop Kids song and she started singing it back to me even though she has yet to see the Wizard of Oz movie.  What 4 year old could possibly survive the flying monkey scenes without nightmares?  Anyway, we walked into Best Buy and she said at the top of her lungs with all the patrons passing by, "We represent the lollipop kids, the lollipop kids..."

Having twins means I'm used to the looks people give as the twins wander through stores.  Almost nothing phases me because the twins are smile generators.  They smile at people walking by and  those people smile back.  It is clearly contagious and a wonderful thing to watch happen over and over every day.

The late, great Johnny Carson once said, "Talent alone won't make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: 'Are your ready?'"

Part of my strategy is to get Easton and Layla ready for the real world.  I can't tell you how awesome it is to see them take care of getting in the car.  They open the door, climb in, close the door and buckle up.  Once they are buckled up I have them say (loudly), "I'm READY!"  This daily routine of consistently setting expectations and allowing them succeed is a microcosmic example of what we do and how we do it.  The day they were old enough to climb in the car was the last day I ever picked them up and loaded them in the car.  The day they clipped their own seat belt was the last time I did it for them.  Does it get tangled occasionally?  Yes, and I'm always happy to lend a hand to help them figure it out.

Doing for a child what they can do for themselves is the most growth-inhibiting thing a parent can do.  I will prove this truth to the fullest extent and encourage others to approach parenting in the same way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Operation Tahoe Accomplished

Greetings friends and family,

We are living it up in Sac town.  All of the toys Ouma and Oupa keep in their house are like new since the twins haven't been there in several months.  The foam letter squares were transformed into boxes which fit nicely on their heads.  Not so much mine, but I improvised for a few laughs.

Layla jumped in on the action too with her "me too" happy attitude.

We left the twins for an evening in the very capable hands of T.J. and Aimee.  We joined in the celebration for Megan's mom's birthday.  They sure know how to throw a party.  It's always top-notch quality for everything from the food to the video slideshow of Nancy's lifetime.  The back yard ambiance made for a nice background as well.

Fast forward a few days into our kid-less vacation.  It's been years since I felt so relaxed and calm.  There is a certain amount of peace that comes from sitting on the front porch of a cabin breathing fresh mountain air and gazing at the pine trees.  We limited our adventures down to one thing per day.  I didn't want to be an over achiever!  One of the days we hiked the Five Lakes trail.  We only made it half way through the 2.5 mile hike because it was very steep uphill.  We sat on a large rock overlooking the valley on both sides of us.  At one point I even laid down and stared up through the pine tree to the empty sky while holding hands with Kendra.  That was one of those special moments I'll never forget.  Not for what it contained, but for what it didn't contain.  No noises besides the breeze blowing through the trees, no distractions like TV or cell phones, no kids or responsibilities.  Life became very simple, very quickly.  Here's an idea of what were hiking through, but the steepness of the hill is not accurately portrayed.

Kendra took an interest in these two dead trees and gave her best imitation of them.

We were able to Skype with Ouma and Oupa and the twins a couple of times when we were in Tahoe.  They missed us, but we couldn't keep their attention very long for Skype because Ouma and Oupa's house is full of fun things for them.

Kendra signed them up for a week-long vacation bible school and it worked out very well.  While Kendra and I were in Tahoe, Ouma and Oupa got a break each morning from the twins.  They came home tired from having fun with their friends.  I picked them up on the last day.  Layla wasn't looking for me so she ran right by me, but Easton saw me and charged full speed as I braced for hug impact.    

One of their parting gifts from the week was a beach ball.  They turned them into yoga balls by rolling all around in the living room.  

Easton creatively put the two balls next to each other and body surfed across one to the other.  Such a smart boy.  He is an out of the box thinker, for sure.

I missed them so much and couldn't wait to see them.  I never want to be away from THEM, it's just that Kendra and I need the focused time to reconnect.  Is it selfish?  Yes.  Is it expensive?  Yes, if couple time is approached correctly by both husband and wife and if it is done at the proper frequency.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I wouldn't trade my Kendra time for anything. 

See you soon!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the Pines

Greetings friends and family,

I love Easton and Layla more than words can describe.  However, Kendra and I are on a kid-free vacation in Tahoe and it's marvelous.  Only one time in more than 4 years we've been away from the twins together on vacation for more than a night.  The previous time was in Hawaii, which had its own stresses of long flights and desired for sight-seeing adventures.  Not so this time!  We drove 90 minutes and have been doing as little as possible ever since the truck was parked.  The cabin (a.k.a. chalet) has plenty of space and all the amenities one could hope for including a hot tub on the back deck.  Here is the view of the tall pines from our front porch.

Sitting peacefully focused only on ourselves and each other is nothing short of amazing.  When we drove away from Ouma and Oupa's house for our alone-time vacation I turned to Kendra and said, "Hello, my name is Bronson.  I'm looking forward to getting to know you."

Our biggest accomplishment was agreeing on which Starbucks frappuccino flavor to share.

We were both so lackadaisical that it was difficult to find a place for lunch.  Then we saw people dining on top of a roof with a view of Lake Tahoe.  Shut up and take my money!  Freshies was tasty, but the most satisfying part of our meal was not having to tell anyone to eat as well as holding hands and eye contact with Kendra for more than just a few seconds before tending to the twins.

We slept in until 11:00 AM and didn't leave the house until 2:00 PM.  I can't remember the last time we did that.  I was happy to find out the cabin has an internet connection.  Sure makes planning easier instead of pulling out the ancient Yellow Pages phone book and thumbing through pages of useless ads.  We shopped around for a good kayak rental place and mapped out the location of the best beach.  Turns out they are one in the same.  We ended up at Round Hill Pines Beach where we launched a two-hour kayak adventure along the shorelines.

Some of the lake houses, I mean lake mansions, are incredible.  We spent part of the trip asking, "I wonder what that family does to afford such an awesome summer home?"  We were content to just float by though.  winds were light, crowds were few, and the peaceful feeling of floating on the water with Kendra made the whole trip worthwhile.

Our muscles were sore, but we had enough strength to lay out a towel on the sand and soak in some sun.  We haven't talked as much as I expected we would, but there's nothing wrong with the lack of conversation. We are relishing the quiet time and lack of responsibility.  Just laying together on the sand holding hands is extraordinarily valuable.  Sometimes there is nothing that needs to be said and from what I found, sometimes words can mess up an enjoyable moment.  A local goose came waddling up the beach and found some bread crumbs buried in the sand within arms-length of Kendra.  I took a picture of the goose between us and it turned out really well considering I was not able to see the framing of the self-portrait.  If I thought ahead we would have made duck faces with out lips sticking out just so I could truly label this picture "duck duck goose".

This 4-day real vacation of alone time with Kendra provided the kind of moments we'll reflect on when life is crazy and remember how easy-going it can be.  As I type this on the front porch, a rabbit is hopping by nibbling grass a few feet from me and the only noise I hear is the breeze whistling through the pine trees.  I'm already looking forward to our next vacation... whenever might be.

Time away from work and kids and daily life is as good as the hype, but occasionally I look at pictures of Easton and Layla and wonder what they are up to now with Ouma and Oupa.  Can't wait to see them again tomorrow.

See you soon!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rockets Red Glare

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads!

Somehow we brought the 108 degree temperatures with us from Phoenix to Sacramento.  No problem for us desert rats!  We just do what we normally do during the summer... Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.

The great thing about this heat wave is that it's just a wave and will subside soon.  We'll be enjoy 60 degree mornings by next week.

Easton's rocket was itching to be launched .  He and and I were both excited to get it airborne.  We convinced the family to head for the park.  Unfortunately, I didn't capture Easton's launch due to the lack of a memory card in the camera.  Doh!  He helped ready the launch pad, stage the rocket, and then fired it off all by himself.  Packing the parachute was not applicable for a four-year-old though.

A slight miscalculation left the rocket in a neighbor's back yard.  I trespassed and recovered it for Layla's turn at firing it off.  Easton was a gentleman when it came to sharing his beloved rocket with Layla.  I thought it would cause more of a conflict, but he was cool with it.  Especially since he was seated comfortably on Ouma's lap.

Layla lovin' on Oupa is a regular occurrence.  Out in the park waiting for the rocket launch was no exception.  Some of my favorite moments are watching Layla receiving the approval from him, which she desperately needs and deserves.

This next picture is the last we'll ever see of the mighty RipTide rocket.

We thought we had the wind accounted for in the launch trajectory, but we were wrong.  :)  It blasted off into the sky so high we could barely see it.  Then the parachute deployed as expected.  Then it started floating off towards the neighbor's house further and further until it drifted out of sight into a cluster of back yards across the street.  We knocked on doors and even hung flyers on garages in hopes someone would find it.  No luck...  Oh well, Easton and Layla both had one good launch!

Kendra's aunt/cousin Joan has an incredible back yard oasis resort.  She also invited us to go there any time, any day!  Yes, thank you.

A few days ago the twins and I were talking about age.  I told them I am 37 years old and they both gasped from disbelief.  That number of years is unthinkable for them.  I described how Layla is Kendra's little girl, Kendra is Ouma's little girl, and Ouma is GG's little girl.  That conversation took a wrong turn when GG was relaxing with us in the living room.   Layla asked, "GG, why are you getting old?"  Not exactly the kind of question GG appreciates, but her response echoed my own, "because everyone gets old."  One of those questions a four-year-old can get away with and it's still cute.  I'm glad she is inquisitive.

GG sat in the shade requesting an occasional splash on her legs to stay cool.  Ouma and Kendra joined us to  dive for rings and do some laps.

There is no doubt we are a fun-loving family of interesting individuals.  Each one in unique.  Together, we are awesome.   What a way to share adventures through our summer!

See you soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Loving the In-laws

What's up friends and family?  Only took us two days to settle into NorCal life.  I used a full vacation day which included sleeping in until 10:00.  I can't remember the last time we did that.  Sure felt good to roll over and go back to sleep when Uno and Dos woke up at 7:15 as they always do.  We knew Ouma and Oupa were taking good care of them and we had no appointments or errands or work to pull us out of bed.  This was a little taste of our upcoming kid-less vacation and I can't wait.

Easton and I put together his ready-to-fly rocket as we wait for the right weather conditions and timing for all of us to launch it.  He's been looking forward to this since we launched a similar one with cousins Eli and Silas almost two years ago.  Some assembly required and we did it perfect.

I had to place the rocket on top of the fridge because Easton wanted to play with it and pretend.  Then we went back to playing with his the toys kept only at Ouma and Oupa's house like this massive track with a woop-T-woop.

Kendra loaded up her old shuffles with tons of songs then gave one to Easton and one to Layla complete with headphones.  Layla is in dance heaven with her own setup.  She turned on her tunes and then danced for us across the living room as though the music was booming on a stereo system.  

Ouma and Oupa's new house comes with a pool!  Well, maybe you see it as a hot tub, but the twins see it as their own personal sized pool.  They were swimming under water so much that it was difficult to get a picture of them both above water.

I was excited to see Ouma bought new pajamas for the twins because most of theirs are high waters and tight sleeves.  Layla's has a mermaid on them and Easton has a dinosaur driving a race car.  perfectly matched for their personalities.   I'll ear mark this picture as one of my all time favorites because it captures their happy hearts so well.

We were treated to an appearance for dinner by Kendra's brother, Casey.  Was great to hang out with him and the twins loved it just as much.  After the swim Casey agreed to brush Layla's hair.

Then Layla brushed Casey's beard.  She really gets sharing and being considerate of others!

Kendra and I are going for nightly walks together.  Normally this isn't an option for obvious reasons, but we are taking full advantage of the alone time opportunities.  The temperature cools down nicely at night as Ouma and Oupa watch guard over the sleeping twins.  That makes for a perfect combination for us to sneak out and hold hands while we walk.

See you soon!