Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs wore out Ouma, Oupa, and Aunt Judy.  They were only here a week, but we made the most of our time together.  Easton and Layla work well as fitness training weights.  one and two and one and two... go Oupa!

We all joined cousin Megan and her boyfriend's family for a Thanksgiving day feast.  We arrived just in time to catch the most excellent sunset and scenery overlooking the city.  I've been looking for an opportunity to get a picture of us four together.  Finally...

The back patio view overlooking the golf course, mountains, and city were nice, my favorite part of this picture is my family.  and the dog licking Easton's leg really grossed him out.  nice!

Andrew lit the fire in Easton's love of astronomy.  Easton saw the craters on the moon and things got real.  He's been talking about the moon for days.  Every night for the past few years when I tuck Easton into bed he requests the same song:  Twinkle, twinkle little star.  He just figured out what the twinkle is and his horizon was expanded forever.

Here's the full family picture from Thanksgiving.  The evening was well worth the trip up North and the sleepy, late ride home for the twins.

And now for my section of Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy:

Every family has values.  Values are either intentionally transferred from the parents to the kids through teaching and example or kids deduce their own version of values based solely on the parent's example alone.  Kendra and I chose to actively transfer our values and her are some on the top of the list to give a sample of what we believe is important.  These are what I call non-negotiables:

We tell the truth.  There is no allowance in our house for lying... to anyone... for any reason.  Withholding the truth is the same as lying.  Lying is punishable by any number of negative consequences including, but not limited to:  timeout for Layla in her bedroom, loss of a toy for x number of minutes, loss of a toy indefinitely (in the trash), loss of privileges such as TV or Xbox time and many others.

Conversely, telling the truth gets positive reinforcement, which is just the opposite of the list above.  We cheer, clap our hands, give rewards.

If a child tells the truth about an act of disobedience, then what?  If Layla tells the truth that she dumped the glitter powder on the floor (which by the way she knew not to touch) then what do we do?  We praise her for telling the truth and discipline her for the disobedience.  Telling the truth doesn't invalidate the laws of sowing and reaping.  That's the way it works in the real world and it's the same in our house.

We do not pinky swear.  Somewhere along the way, other kids told the twins about pinky swearing.  The other day I agreed to something in a conversation with Layla.  She looked at me with squinty eyes and said, "pinky swear on it?"  as she stuck her pinky up in the air.

I said, "No!  absolutely not.  Am I a man of my word?"  She said, "yes, you do what you say you will do."  Then you can trust me.  Layla nodded her head approvingly and I never heard another word about pinky swearing since.

No one gets left behind.  When we are at the park and it's time to go I give a two minute warning.  After two minutes I say, "Ok, it's time to go! Say good-bye to the park and your friends."  I pack my stuff and we walk to the car.  together.  There is no counting to three.  there is no threatening of leaving them.  There is no fussing or crying.  How did we get to this state of Zen?  Very simple.  We consistently apply expectations and consequences (both good and bad).  If they obey, then they get good consequences.  If they disobey, then they get bad consequences.

The reason we never threaten to leave them is because the last thing I want is for Easton or Layla to believe for one second I would ever really leave without them.  That breeds abandonment and insecurity, instantly.  The moment they truly believe I would ever leave them stranded I have failed as a father.   Deuteronomy 31:6 says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

If I want Easton and Layla to be strong and courageous, then I must be a father to them in the same way God is a father to me.  There is no place where God threatens to leave me under any circumstances.  The comfort of knowing this gives confidence and freedom and peace.  If parents will model this instead of using fear as a motivator to come along, then we will have much stronger and more courageous kids.

Forgive and be forgiven.  Saying "sorry" doesn't cut it around our house.  If someone deserves an apology, then we go through the steps of forgiveness:
Offender: "Please forgive me for...  ( say exactly what the offense was )"
Offended: "I forgive you"
Offender: "I will not ( say exactly what the offense was ) again"
Offender: hug the offended and reconcile

Seems simple, but I would guess only a very small percentage of people live life this way.  There is absolutely no tolerance for telling someone else about the offense.  We are teaching them to go to the offender and work it out with THAT person.  I'm amazed by the immaturity of people of all ages who tell other people about what someone else did, but refuse to talk to the offender directly.

That's a short list of some of the top "values" we are instilling.  it's a process and it takes month after month, year after year for them to get it, but they will!

See you soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

This is Staycation!

Hello friends and family,

My vacation officially started Wednesday morning and I'm happy to announce Thursday was a full day of absolutely nothing.  I didn't cook, clean, fix, go, or do a single thing for an entire day.  It was heavenly to say the least.  this must be what it is like to be retired?  I hear these kind of days are more frequent than once per year.

Anyway, our house is a constant flow of people, which is perfectly fine by me.  Ouma and Oupa and Aunt Judy are our current residents, with other friends and family wandering through.  For Thanksgiving day we had leftovers!  Since the ladies cooked up the huge turkey meal on Monday, nobody felt like going through the effort again on Thanksgiving day.  It turned out great though because everyone had the opportunity to rest.

Easton and Layla's excitement for the Nerf dart guns is renewed after our battle with Logan.  They also rediscovered how the darts stick to our 15 foot ceiling.  They each fired a couple of darts upward and looked at me to gauge my response.  I verbally asked the same question I always do, "why not?...  Go for it!"  Easton shrugged his shoulders and they unloaded the entire arsenal on our poor ceiling.  I captured this image of them looking tough.

After reviewing the image on my computer I immediately thought of the Pulp Fiction poster.  See the similarity?

We also had cousin Megan and her boyfriend, Brandon, over for an afternoon.  We hung out with them last year for Thanksgiving and Brandon proved back then how excellent he is around kids.  The 4 Webbs are a big fan of Brandon, especially Easton because of how engaging he is with the kids.  He joined Easton for Disneyland XBOX Kinect fun.  that's about all it takes to win Easton over.

Kendra's cousin, Megan, was just a youngster when I met her 10 years ago.  Since she lived out of state Kendra didn't get to spend tons of time with her, but they've always had a good friendship and connection.  She won over Layla's affection just by being herself.

This week-long visit is Judy's first opportunity to spend days-in-a-row with us.  We've been around her for a few hours here and there when we happen to cross paths in Sacramento, but we had a really good time getting to know her better.  Any time her and Ouma are together, stereo laughter is sure to occur.  Part of the entertainment value is observing the two of them as they laugh.

Did I mention Brandon is great with kids?  He has experience with two younger brothers and parents who obviously taught him how to be kind and tender-hearted.  He'll make a great father some day.

Speaking of great fathers (or not) I let Easton and Layla play next to an open fire in our backyard.

That doesn't count for bad parenting, but it doesn't lead to father of the year awards either.  Jacob came over for an evening to talk about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.  We decided to use Matthew's fire pit and the wood from our tree demolition project.  The twins were awarded for good behavior with fire-melted S'mores.

And now for my greatest accomplishment of the year.  you might want to sit down for this big news...

I tied Oupa in a round of golf!  I feel like a sappy actor winning an Oscar award.  I would stand up there with my prize score card in hand with tears in my eyes and say, "After 11 years of playing golf with Oupa all that hard work finally paid off!  I'd like to thank Big Bertha, my golf club sponsors, and Oupa for playing the worst round of golf he's had in years."

He played an uncharacteristically bad round while I got lucky and didn't screw mine up.  I took one mulligan on hole 15, but that part wouldn't be in my Oscar acceptance speech.

Since this round of golf, he redeemed himself by winning against several formidable opponents.  As for me, I may never play golf again just so i can end my golf career on a high note.

It's so refreshing to realize this is only one day into a 4-day vacation weekend.  I won't spend another day doing absolutely nothing, but the bar is set so low that if I accomplish anything in the next few days I'll look like a hero.

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Early Thanksgiving

Greetings friends and family,

I finally convinced the photographer from our church picnic to send me the file in a size I can post.  This is by far one of my favorite pics in a long time.  If there's a father who thinks he loves his kids more than I do, I'll gladly take him to task because these two are the most valuable little people on the planet.

Nine people slept comfortably in our house for the past few days.  We used the extra leaf in the table to accommodate Thanksgiving dinner, three big-screen TVs at the same time, and three vehicles to shuttle us around for adventuring.  It's been a full week!

My luck at free tickets from work continues.  I won 4 tickets to see Sesame Street Live!  I couldn't believe they were $25 each because there is no way I'd throw a C note down to watch Big Bird dance.  It was a great show though.  All the classic characters and some new ones I never saw before.  The performance and stage set up were well done.  Most importantly, Easton and Layla's attention was captivated for the entire 90 minutes.

I have to attend in order to receive the tickets.  Easton and Layla obviously went.  but who else would join us?  Kendra and Mom were cooking up turkey like the Swedish Chef.  Dad was calculating touchdowns like Count von Count.  Logan and Bree were sleeping like Oscar the grouch.  That leaves...  Aunt Judy!  She gladly joined us for a ride downtown and a great show.

Logan and Bree had to return home early so we shifted our Thanksgiving dinner to Sunday.  Here's the clan after woofing down homemade rolls, hand-carved turkey, and several forms of potatoes.  The meal was excellent, but I doubt Kendra and Mom will be willing to do this every day.

We waddled away from table and wondered outside for an evening walk in the lovely Phoenix weather.  We ran out of flashlights, but have no fear!  Lightsabers to the rescue!  Easton and Layla led the way with their "don't mess with me" look.

Kendra took advantage of our zoo membership to get the whole family in for some monkey time.  Looks like the giraffe is eating Bree's hair, but it's just an illusion.  Easton and Layla are even more hyped up about being in their wedding now that we spent some time hanging out together.

We all enjoyed them spending a few days joining us for adventures and hanging out at home relaxing together.  Logan joined us in an epic nerf gun battle.  I'm still finding nerf darts in the strangest places around the house?

Part of the zoo entertainment is the carousel.  Easton and Layla have yet to get tired of the excitement.  Oupa is cool enough to join Easton for a few laps around the circle.  It's easy to see how much Easton revels in the hands-on attention from one of the most influential male figures in his life.

Ouma and Layla clung to the seahorse even though I'm sure Layla was chomping at the bit to go faster.  If she were a jockey I would feel sorry for that poor horse because Layla would push its limits.  These moments are the most memorable for the twins.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Down Cycle... Finally

Greetings friends and family,

Today marks a significant milestone in the house of the 4Webbs.  This was a finish line for the over-committed life we got ourselves into. For the past three months we took on too many extra-curricular, time-intensive commitments that caused some temporary stress.

I was in Sacramento working my tail off for a few days while Kendra was running the household.  We can manage with just those two top priorities, but it's the additional serving and leading that got us in too deep.  Kendra made a conscious effort to befriend some other moms, which led to play dates.  Zander and Joya are two kids who I am happy to have around the twins.  their Dad and I are close friends.  Because I trust and like him, it is easy for me to agree to our kids hanging out.  Zander and Joya are not perfect, but neither are Easton and Layla.  There...  I said it.  I am not a disillusioned Dad who believes, "MY children would never do that ".  Even so, they are testing the boundaries and successfully building the river banks that will guide them through life successfully.  

One of the unforeseen straws that broke the camel's back of our sanity was when our house turned into a movie set.  Yes, these are real actors and producers and equipment in our living room shooting scenes for a movie.  For four days and nights Kendra hosted as the twins observed them filming.  Not many kids can say they experienced this kind of thing and I was out of town anyway, so I gladly agreed with Kendra to sacrifice in order to accommodate.

Another new friend of Layla is named Kayla.  Her sisters are a part of the young adults group we lead.  Her Mom is a new friend of Kendra's and her Dad is someone I will get to know soon.  If she likes owls and zhu zhu pets, then Kayla came to the right house!

Easton developed his camera smile and we're actively working to reverse the habit.  All it takes is making a joke about a bodily function.  Instant laugh with a smile to go with it.

The day I arrived back home, Kendra's family showed up for a week of vacation time together.  Ouma, Oupa, Logan, Bree, and Aunt Judy are all spending quality time with the 4 Webbs.  We thank God for a spacious house that gives us all a place to sleep and room to move around.  Bree is almost officially my sister and we are excited to get to know her on a whole new level.

Logan is taking on the Uncle role very well considering how overwhelming the twins can be for someone who hasn't had much kid experience.  We went for a family walk in the greenbelt and Logan jumped up on a light pole just for fun.  Miss "How 'bout me" needed to join him up high and Uncle Logan gladly complied.

Easton was way out ahead of us as we slowly meandered along.  That's why I have no pictures of Easton on our outing.  He headed straight for the known home of Hootie and Howie where he spotted a huge eagle or falcon of some sort perched high up in an adjacent pine tree.  We ran up as she excited called us to see what he discovered.  Sure enough, there was one of the biggest birds I've seen in the wild.  Easton is Mr. Observant and doesn't miss a thing...  Especially when it is right up his ally.

I stopped the forward progress of our clan for a photo opp. of the engaged couple.  No one is looking forward to their wedding more than Easton and Layla besides the happy couple themselves.   Kendra and I are in the wedding party, Layla is the flower girl, and Easton is the ring bearer.  That's going to be a memorable day next year for sure.

Ever since she arrived Easton and Layla are on Ouma time.  That means they must know exactly where she is at all times and unless there is a reason not to, they expect to be in her lap.

After dinner Logan and Bree took care of the twins as we crossed the busy parking lot.  Saturday nights are extremely crowded and busy.  Good thing Kendra had us sitting down early at 5:30 before the rush.  Because of our good timing we had the privilege of dining in the outdoor patio, comfortably enjoying the evening air.  Not bad for mid-November!

The other undertaking on Kendra's plate was the Dirty Girl Mud Run.  She trained and worked hard to strengthen her knee for the three mile obstacle course which included crawling through mud.  She liked it so much that she is already excited to do again next year.  I'm very proud of Kendra for pulling their group of "Anointed Angels" together and succeeding in her goal to finish the race!

We also said, "Good-bye" to Morgan, our roommate.  She only lived with us for 10 weeks, but she became a part of the 4Webb family so much that I already miss her being around.  Our late-night living room talks about life, love, and employment are partly to blame for my decreased blog posts, but it was well worth the sacrifice.  Kendra helped her in so many ways including mentoring to break through emotional strongholds all the way to helping her learn to cook.  We sent her off with a full heart and all the blessings we could give her.  She will be missed!

Sunday after church will be a special surprise for the twins and I can't wait to experience it with them!  Time to put work aside for a few days and spend some quality time with the house-full of family.

See you soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Picnic, Carnival, and Theatre

Hello friends and family,

Daddy won a Galaxy Tab 2 at the church celebration picnic.  If there were ever a doubt my geekiness knows a boundary, let me assure you I get an unbelievable amount of satisfaction from learning and playing with a new gadget.  The past few days have been devoid of free time so I decided sleep was optional.  Not a good long term plan, but I didn't want to wait for the weekend to unwrap my new toy.  It's basically an overs-sized iphone without the phone capability.  It's just an "i".

Meanwhile, back in beautiful downtown Burbank...   Life keeps flying by.  Layla is already determined to be a good mother.  She's feeding baby Grace and using all of her baby furniture like the high chair, stroller, and crib.  She' practically ready to babysit!

We went for a hike on South Mountain with our friend Chris.  I had high hopes of a hike with no injuries, but we had no such luck.  the trail we hike is just too steep for their coordination level.  I accept that and we will work this winter to move from flat to slightly inclined.  During this hike I carried Easton for about 10 minutes as he cried and complained about the scratches on his knees and hands.  Other than those 10 minutes worth of agony we had an outstanding time while hiking to the third peak (furthest we've ever hiked)!

The church celebration picnic is my favorite church event of the year even before I won the Galaxy Tablet.  Tam, the face painting lady, gave Easton a bat and Layla a crown.  Imagine that!  Morgan is considered one of the Webb kids now so this picture is one of the few showing all three of our kids together.

Layla spent most of her time in the bounce house waving at me outside.  Her needs for attention, affection, and approval are most obvious when she's waving and shouting, "look at me, Daddy!" while bouncing around.  This is a self-portrait from my poor point-n-shoot camera, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.  Daddy takes about 5,000 pictures per year, but I'm only the subject in a handful of them.

Easton did what most boys like to do:  get dirty and grassy while dumping bubble juice everywhere.  The yellow wand in his hands made enormous, long bubbles that burst when he slopped them over the nearest child.

The twins were worn out from the crazy atmosphere of 300+ church people at the park.  You'd think they would be ready for a nap or an hour of quiet time, right?  Nope, it turned into a marathon day where the crazy high energy overflowed back into the Webb house.  pillow cases are also good for sack racing:

Saturday was virtually a kid-free day for Kendra and an all day Daddy-date for me.  One of the best days in recent memory for me.  The three of us attended a play called, "Peacemaker" by the Phoenix Theatre Cookie Company.  The tickets were free (compliments of my work) and worth every penny.  I don't know that it was worth $15 per ticket face value, but it was well worth our time.  The basic idea behind the play is this:

The Blues and the Reds have lived on either side of the Wall for decades. Interaction is forbidden and both communities live in an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and mistrust. But when circumstances allow Simp, a curious young Red, to meet Bluey, they learn they have a great deal to offer one another and that their similarities far outweigh their differences. Full of clowning, juggling and physical storytelling this production promotes acceptance, empathy and friendship.

I thought it might turn out to be a gay-rights propaganda inculcation full of diversity mumbo jumbo, but luckily it was focused strictly on not being afraid of a group of people based on what others say about them.  

After the play we walked across the street where the annual city block party was rocking.  The street was blocked off with thousands of people shuffling around.  The event was supposedly free, but the only "free" thing about it was walking down the street.  i couldn't believe how it was really just a maze of "how many ways can I waste my money?"  carnival games, jewelry and art sales, rides, face painting, eating, and many other wallet-sucking poachers lined the street.  I spent the entire day answering Easton's "Why" question of, "why can't we buy that or do this or go there?"

The one place I did pull out my wallet was the carnival swing ride.  Watching them get an adrenaline rush by spinning around in circles was worth $6.  They walked into the swing's perimeter together and the carni-guy helped them into their seats, which were perfectly designed for twin preschoolers.  I walked around the outside to get a better angle in the sun.  As soon as they were settled in their seats their eyes and voices immediately began searching for me.  Easton found me across the way and pointed me out to Layla.

The swing spun around at about 2 miles per hour, but you'd think they were in a G-force simulation trainer by the excitement in their voice.

here's the video of their wild swing ride.  I can't wait for Disneyland!

We are in the final stages of planning for our Disneyland vacation next year.  I came to a crazy realization that Disneyland is a giant people trap operated by a mouse.  Kind of creepy when you think about it that way.  Even so, I'm still ready and willing to shell out a few thousand dollars for the opportunity to be with the twins during their first encounter with the happiest place on Earth.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Owl and Jewelry

Hoooootie friends and family,

Easton is passionate about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Kendra fanned the flames by buying him a Leonardo mask and plastic katana.  I'm cast in the role of Splinter, the humanoid Ninja Master rat.  Layla made up a girl TMNT character named "Sparkle" because the real characters are all boys.  I'm not sure who Kendra's character is because we haven't been spending much time playing as the 4 Webbs lately.

However, we took time for a family dinner by exercising our option to eat outside since evenings are cool and calm.  We rarely eat steaks, but on this special occasion I grilled up some cow for.

 As we finished dinner Easton excitedly screams, "Hootie!"  Our neighborhood owl flew right over the greenbelt and landed in the tree next to us.  The mythical owl we hear and watch for came right to us!

I ran inside and grabbed my camera with the long lens and steadied my hands for a difficult close up.  I turned on the video camera and I apologize in advance for the shakiness.  Hootie took flight and we saw his float off into the sunset.

We spent an afternoon together and ended up at the train park.  Easton found some friends and ran around playing chase.  Layla didn't have a girl close to her age so she was doing karate kicks and punches alone in the middle of the playground.  I joined her for some ninja training and showed the boys what's up. After she completed her training and felt ready to be a ninja turtle she headed off to fight the bad guys.  While pretending to be a hero she poked her head out from the slide at just the right time and I captured this.

Even in her imaginary superhero role she is still all smiles and happiness.  I finally found the perfect way to describe Layla.  She is a party waiting to happen!  Everything from the way she skips and flutters to her contagious laugh leads me to believe she may be the happiest kid on Earth.

Easton's doing well himself in that department, but as he was interacting with some mean spirited boys he came to me looking for an explanation about why they were mean.  It's tough to explain to a well-behaved 4 year old why the 6 year old boy is a jerk while his parents stand by watching his mean-spirited behavior. he's resilient though so after a brief explanation about how he just needs to take care of doing what he knows is right, he was off to play again.  He is finally big enough and strong enough and coordinated enough to climb on top of the slide.  uh oh...  time for another level of trust to be given and let them take on some new challenges.

Layla's bracelet given to her by Aimee broke because of too much usage.  We went to Hobby Lobby to get some string and extra beads.  The cost was so high I ended up just buying a whole bead making kit.  the twins did very well with stringing the beads and deciding which ones would go together best.

Easton has a necklace from Ouma and Layla has a bracelet from Ouma which were hand built last year when she was visiting.  Easton built a bracelet and Layla built a necklace so they were both back to even on the jewelry department.  Here they are in their jewelry modeling debut.

Morgan is sorting through her belongs to get ready for moving out of the Webb house into her own place.  She graciously gave Layla a windfall of jewelry and a very special jewelry box that belonged to Morgan's family.  What a special gift! That was very kind of Morgan to make Layla feel special with so many goodies. Much appreciated!

Layla requested I help her pick out her church dress last Sunday.  What she really meant is, "choose my Easter dress!"  After figuring out what she really wanted I gladly picked out her girly dress and got her ready to go.  Easton's shirt has a collar.  That's dressed up enough for him!

Kendra and I worked through a couple of difficult discussions this week.  Nothing serious or major, just dealing with the lack of time together as best we can and vowing never to over-commit so deeply again.  We are tapped out and spent!  We talked today about how there are just so many hurting people and it's difficult to say no to the opportunities to help.  We'll figure it out together though.  We did a very good job of not letting the sun go down on our anger.  We stayed up extra late a couple of nights to wrestle this out and were able to resolve some things.  Such a great feeling.

Our marathon cycle of crazy-busy is almost done and we can see the finish line just one week away.  Almost there.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Gentleman and a Princess

This post is pictorially presented in its entirety from my iphone.  I have a very expensive Canon DSLR that contains photos from the past few days, but it is in the bedroom... with Kendra, who is sleeping soundly.  Since she is not feeling well I'm stuck with iphone quality.

Today was a special Saturday.  I've been wanting to give Kendra a kid-free day for a few weeks, but today it finally worked out.  She read some books, watched TV, went to the salon for a hair cut, and whatever else she wanted to do.  I wish she could have a day like this when she was healthy instead of waiting for this situation where she is a little under the weather, but nothing is perfect...

I, on the other hand, had a full Daddy day from the moment I rolled out of bed until I sung their good night songs.  We had a great day together.  I made cream of wheat and let them stir in the chocolate chips.  The three of us shared a big bowl of it together.  Most of the conversation over breakfast was me convincing them people call cream of wheat "hot cereal".  They thought I was joking!

I noticed the temperature was relatively cool and there was zero wind.  Those are perfect conditions for a model rocket launch!  We went to the near-by soccer field where we successfully launched and recovered the rocket twice.  I had to climb a chain link fence for one of the recoveries, but that's what happens when rookies like us get our hands on something capable of 950 ft altitude.  here is Layla's launch.  Notice how Easton thinks the sound is too loud so he offers to cover her ears while leaving his own exposed.  Layla gets a little bossy about it, but she is still learning how to receive Easton's considerate behavior.

Here's a picture of Layla's launch preparation in case the video doesn't load.

I don't have Easton's launch on film because even though we went over the instructions a few times, when Layla started the countdown she said, "5.... 4.... " and Easton said, "What does this button..."  Whoooosh!  There it goes.

We went to the lizard park for a little different scenery.  A couple passed by the playground area towing triplets.

I snapped a picture and said, "it gets easier when they turn three.  hang in there!"  I was really thinking, "Thank God we decided to implant only 2 embryos instead of 3!"  We changed our mind literally 2 minutes before the doctor implanted the embryos.  Twins was incredibly difficult for the first few years.  Triplets would have driven one of us insane.

Easton has been and will be in "gentleman training" as long as he lives under my roof.  He knows to open the car door for Layla and let her in first.  Layla abuses the privilege and bullies her way past him if he forgets.  I'm still working on her to give Easton a chance to be a gentleman instead of demanding it.  He also knows to  get out first and then offer his hand to help her down out of the car.  

I was able to take this picture because Easton does this so regularly that I just had to jump out with my camera ready to catch him in the act.  I'm very happy he sees this as normal and expected  behavior towards women.  I'm very happy Layla expects to be treated this way.  For all women I want to scream:  "You get and deserve whatever you are willing to tolerate!"  If a woman allows a man to treat her poorly, then that's exactly what she will get.  Layla will not be one of those girls.  I want her standards and expectations to be so high that she will walk away from punks and low lifes and bad boys.

I heated up the hot tub to give the twins some swimming time and to dust off the heater since it hasn't been used in a while.  Everything worked as desired and they had a blast splashing around in the bubbles.

Two of our friends came over to get financial advice in an FPU working session.  Afterwards we walked down to the back yard for some golf lessons and croquet.  Easton and Layla had never played croquet so we made up the rules as we went just to have some fun let them swing a mallet.  Layla got smacked lightly in the hand and Easton got poked in the eye.  Even so, nobody cried and no injuries required treatment.

We also did some shopping around because I wanted to find some clearance Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes for them.  No such luck.  inventories must be tight because we didn't even find something as simple as a turtle mask.   Time to shop online...  They found some witches hats and wanted to put them on.  Kendra played a few minutes of the Wizard of Oz for them last week.  Their impression of the Wicked Witch of the West is this:

In our conversations today they asked me to explain many things.  The three words stand out as the most difficult concepts I had to field:

Illegal - Layla
Dilemma - Layla
Whirlpool (the aquatic phenomena, not the appliance manufacturer) - Easton

Seriously!  What four-year-olds require an explanation of these advanced concepts?  I explained and then they gave me an example to show me they understand.  That's so much fun...

To end our night we went to Pei Wei's for chinese food.  I have no idea where that came from, but when I asked them where they want to eat, Easton quickly shouted, "Chinese!"  While eating on the patio a police woman walked by to go into the restaurant.  Easton and Layla loudly pointed her out and said, "hi!"  Easton exclaimed, "I've never seen a police woman before."  as she smiled and walked past us.  On our way back through the restaurant they both went directly to her table where she was eating with a couple.   The twins asked her name and if she has a police car and then Layla gave her a hug good-bye.  Their understanding of law enforcement as good guys and gals who protect us and care about us is exactly the perception I want them to have.  Parents who degrade law enforcement in front of their children are doing them a disservice.  I want to make sure the pendulum is swinging on the other side of the equation for Easton and Layla so we talk kindly about police and fire and armed forces.

That's a really exciting day as far as I'm concerned.  Not much I would change about it, but I know I couldn't handle doing this every day by myself.  God bless single moms...  I'm pooped!

See you soon.