Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Experiments and Schooling

Greetings friends and family,

Easton and Layla are approaching the home stretch for the home-schooling effort with Kendra.  They have two months left, then we spend the next few months embarking on the greatest adventures in the history of their five-year-old lives.  Once the traveling and vacationing is over, August will be here and kindergarten begins.  We're fairly confident the school we chose is the right one for them.  As the days tick by and kindergarten approaches we are more and more at peace with our plan.   

For now, Kendra is their kindergarten preparedness instructor.  They found a book about the five senses at the library and Kendra used it in a hands-on activity.

Every parent wonders if a child's five senses will be normal when they are born.  There are so many disabilities and defects and problems.  I am extremely grateful they are healthy and whole in every way.  No allergies, no medications, and no disabilities.  I know they are not perfect but they are healthy and well positioned to live a successful life.

Anyway, back to the experiment.  She put a substance in each cup and had them cover their eyes to use only their nose to identify the contents of each cup.

 Easton used the double hand cover for his eyes.  He has extraordinary eyesight and senses.  He sees things in the sky that takes me a while to focus and find.  covering his eyes takes his most sensitive sense out of the equation and he's left with smell.

Kendra used strawberries, peanut butter, and cinnamon. Simple, yet effective.

Another learning activity they did was bird watching.  My mom enjoys and Grandma enjoyed bird watching. I'm glad Kendra is passing on the fowl interest.  The binoculars were passed on to me from Uncle Dave.  We used these at sporting events and our adventures.  It's fulfilling to see them be used by the twins to explore the world around them.

And my favorite picture of the week is this one.

Dora doesn't have anything on these two.  I've got Easton and Layla the explorers!  The row of palm trees where Hootie and Howie live are a perfect focal point for them to look for signs of life.  I'll have to take them out at dusk some evening before it gets to hot so we can see the owls stirring.

Valentines Day came and went without much fanfare for the twins.  They missed out on the giving and receiving cards with their classmates, but they'll have several years of elementary school to experience that.  They were excited to get a letter in the mail from GG with a card and a dollar.  I wish I could get this excited about a dollar.  However, I do get equally excited about a card in the mail.

The Saguaro cactus in our front yard is looking a little droopy.  All but one of the arms are on one side and it's leaning slightly towards the driveway.  Could be just a normal part of the the development of the cactus, but I'd be much less concerned if it were leaning the other way towards the yard instead of where we park the car.  I talked to the local cactus sales company and sent them this picture.  He said the cactus should get zero water or else it grows too fast and gets too big for its roots.  So much to learn...  Looks like we have some landscaping to do in the near future!

And the large crack in the living room cracked several tiles so the tile man came out to replace them.  Looks great now though!

Oh, the joys of home ownership.  I've spent so much time in Lowe's that Leon, my new friend who works there, knows me by name.  It's starting to become my own version of Cheers.  I bet those guys in the Cheers TV show weren't home owners or they wouldn't have time to sit around in a bar and drink beer every night.  Maybe I'm on to something?  Either way, my expectation is that good portion of my upcoming sabbatical will be consumed with home repair projects.  Can't wait to become handy when I take a break from meetings and computer time at my job.

See you soon!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Curiosity and Learning

Greetings friends and family,

I have a backlog of pictures and stories from my iphone because I haven't spent much computer time at my desk in the past week.  Each day is started with Easton crawling into bed with us at around 8:00.  He says something about being hungry then asks me, "is this a work day?"  Then Kendra and I get up and I wake up Layla for breakfast.  The twins get sad when I have a work day so leaving in the mornings is becoming less and less enjoyable.  They beg me to stay and play with them.  They ask when I'll be home and then ask when will we get to play together.  I had Monday off so it was a 4-day work week, but still felt unnecessarily long because I know the twins are home waiting for me to spend time with them.

Easton is coming along nicely with his learning and maturing.  I can't even start to describe the advancement in their confidence simply because they realized they turned five years old.  Easton is saying, "can i do it by myself?" more often.  One of his birthday gifts was a micro-charger.  The charger part required batteries.  Out of sheer habit he asked if I would put batteries in it.  I said, "You're five years old, right?"  He said "yes!  and that means I can do it all by myself!"

He unscrewed the back of the charger, retrieved the batteries, and installed them along with the cover.

I don't consider myself to be handy by any sense of the word, but I want Easton to get a head start because it's obvious he likes to work with his hands and fix things.  This is part of our Daddy time together, which I egregiously use as learning moments.

The same goes for Layla.  I asked her what she wanted to do with Daddy time and she said, "coloring".  The weather was perfect so I took her and the coloring equipment out to the hot tub ledge where we baked like solar panels soaking in the sunshine.

Layla received a birthday gift of a craft to build a heart-shaped jewelry box.  She asked if we could do it together and I agreed.  What she really meant was that I will watch her and shower her with compliments as she does it herself.  So be it!  I'm just here to give her the attention, affection, and approval she needs. Layla sacrificed one of her sticky heart jewels and placed it on my shirt over my heart.  I wore it proudly the next day and took pride in explaining why a grown man had a plastic heart jewel stuck to my shirt.

I took the twins on a South Mountain hike while Kendra ran errands.  I chose a new trail they hadn't seen before just to add a little variety.  We wandered through a sandy wash and found a huge pile of boulders.  The twins stood on top and I told them to give me their best princess and superhero pose.  Here you have it...  Princess Ariel and Spider-man.

We walked past a very tall, dead saguaro cactus.  Easton stopped in his tracks and asked what happened.  I told him it was old.  He said, "is it older than Oupa?"  I confirmed his suspensions and he accepted with a "wow I'm glad Oupa isn't that old".

We made it to the furthest point from the car that I wanted to go.  As we turned around to head back towards the car Layla informed me she had to go #2.  With no tissue or place to go I prepared to remove my socks and donate them to the city park.  When I told her she would have to wipe with my stinky, sweaty sock she made a yucky face and said she could wait.  Easton and I jogged towards the car as Layla raced like rocket.  Easton complained as I pulled him along saying, "why do I have to run?  Layla is the one who didn't go before we left!"  I couldn't explain the situation at the time, but someday he'll need to grasp this concept.  We made it home safely with both of my socks. Thank God.

Easton and Layla had preconceived notions of our attic.  They've been asking about it for months.  Questioning what's up there, how big it is, and why they can't go there.  The ladder is still broken, but holding together thanks to my Dad's wire-wrapping temporary fix.  I pulled it down and let the twins check it out.  Why would I do that?  The question is, "Why not?"  They are curious and I encourage they seek answers to their questions.  So here we go.

Easton climbed up first with the flashlight.  He was delighted to find there was nothing scary there.  in fact, nothing at all except wood.

Layla followed closely behind with no fear now that Easton was clearly safe inside

They wanted to go explore the attic, but I didn't want one of them to drop down through the living room ceiling.   They saw enough on the edge of the attic door.  I don't really consider it an adventure, but I love to build their confidence and give them opportunities to display courage.

Layla wore a choker necklace and I to send a picture to Bree (Logan's fiance) because Bree has commonly wears these.  I took the picture, then looked at the results.  My jaw dropped when I saw this.

Layla is no longer a baby or toddler or child or even a kid.  I know this logically, but to see her looking so much like a real princess is shocking to me.  She's a little girl now and it's hard to believe she looks and acts so old.

We went for a sushi dinner during half-priced happy hour. Layla wore her Ariel princess wedding gown and veil.  All of the patrons in the restaurant fell silent and smiled as we entered the restaurant.  Layla noticed the smiling faces and waved at everybody while batting her eyelashes.  A lady asked if we were at a photo shoot and I said, "no, this is her everyday-wear because she's five and a princess!"  Everyone chuckled and Layla took it all in stride.

I continue to fight for my sashimi (raw) fish with these two seafood lovers.  Nigiri is tough for me to dunk in the soy sauce.  For Easton it's nearly impossible so he just chows with his fingers.  I can tell he's growing again because his appetite is increasing and I don't have to tell him to eat his food much anymore.

That's all I have time for tonight, but several more pictures and stories are in the hopper already.  See you soon!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Perfect Princess Party

Greetings friends and family,

I know nothing is truly perfect, but Layla's birthday party was as close as we could get.  the house was transformed overnight into a castle / play area / dining hall fit for a princess.  The picture that captures the party best is this one taken at the end of the day by our neighborhood park.  Look who's charging ahead...  little miss leader Layla, of course.

As her friends arrived there was a wardrobe change straight away into princess outfits.  Joya was the oldest of the crew, but Layla really looks up to her and considers her as a good friend.

Next was Lulu, her classmate from pre-k.  Layla hasn't seen Lulu in a few months so when I asked her who she was most excited to see, Lulu was the one.

Peyton is Lulu's older sister who is missing front teeth.  Easton had a crush on her a year ago at their 4th birthday party.

Kayla is a fairly new friend for Layla, but these two get along so well together.  She would have a play date once per week with Kayla if we let her.

And last, but not least, Emma.  She is another one of Layla's pre-k friends who she hasn't seen in a few months.  Emma was Layla's favorite playmate in school for a full year and she made a great impression on Layla for her to choose her as a top 6 girl to attend the party.

And we didn't want to get left out of the royal line up so here's the Kodak moment for us that day.

Easton spent the afternoon with Joya's brother and their family at the park.  I can count on one hand the number of families I feel comfortable enough to allow Easton to be on his own with.  They are a class-act and an answer to prayer for us to have family friends.  family friends means the kids get along, mothers enjoy each other's company, and I like the Dad.

We also got a picture of the full cast of characters.  I'll print this one out and give it to Layla as a memento she can hang in her room.

The decorations and setup of the party was a combination of Kendra's imagination, Target, and Pinterest.  It turned out really well and she received compliments from the mom's, princesses, and most importantly Layla.

She is such a strong leader that she dominated the conversations and took full advantage of the "it's all about me" concept.  At other people's birthday parties she does well to make it about the birthday girl (or boy) so I'm not worried about her behavior.  Kendra and I want these celebrations to be as meaningful and gregarious as we can afford.  I believe it is vital to a child's confidence and growth to mark these rights of passage with fanfare.  Occasions worth celebrating are worth making it memorable for them.

part of the princess party was a spa / makeup area where each girl had her fingernails painted and a little makeup applied.  Nothing crazy, just enough to make her feel special.  Ruth helped Kendra make the party a success.

Layla was more than happy to let her friends go first while she watched.

The girls who were not getting their nails done danced in the den to all of Layla's favorite songs including "I like to move it" and "party rock anthem".

Layla requested yellow and on alternating fingers.  The yellow polish is what Layla and I picked out at the store during our last Daddy date.  :)

Kylie arrived a little late so we didn't get her in the photo shoot, but she fit right in the rest of the princesses.  She was excited to dress up in the exact costume as the Rapunzel doll she was playing with.  We can't get more real than that unless we had a tower and an evil step mother.

The rest of these pics below were taken by Ruth and I'm so glad she was willing and talented enough to capture the highlights of the party.  I'm too tired to comment on each of the pictures, but Ouma requested I post every possible picture so she can enjoy Layla's birthday vicariously since she wasn't able to be here in person.  Yes, I did wear one of the princess crowns and decorate a cupcake with the princesses.  That's just how we do things around here in the Webb house.  If I can get involved in what interests Layla, then I will at all costs even if my pride is collateral damage.

My favorite picture of the lot is when Layla is looking at me as I sing Happy Birthday to her.

See you soon!