Saturday, February 28, 2015

When Failure is Success

Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs went to see Varekai, the Cirque du Soleil performance.  I won 4 tickets at $50 each from work.  We were in a bit of a rush to get there on time so I took this picture as we walked from the parking garage into the arena.

There were no opportunities to take pictures inside during the event so we'll just keep that adventure as a memory only.  The performance was very creative and well done.  The intermittent conversations were in French.  That means we could only comprehend the story based on the performance itself.  I have no idea what it was about and the twins both shrugged their shoulders when I asked them what they thought the story was about.  If you go to a circus, for example, you see a tiger jump over a man and then turn around in circles.  That's easy to understand.  However, Varekai was attempting to convey some sort of magical, mystical story about something, but it was over our heads.  That didn't stop us from enjoying it though.  The acrobatics were amazing, the costumes were elaborate, and the coordination of sounds and lights and people was fantastic.  I would highly recommend going if you get the chance.  Especially if the tickets are free.

We failed to understand the story, but succeeded in having a great experience together as a family.  The point of these events isn't always to understand, but to encounter and experience.

Anyway, back to normal life.  Layla brought home this pile of leaves and placed them on the kitchen island.  She brought me over to show me the leaves and I couldn't figure out what was so special about them until she said, "Drew gave them to me."  My brain had this little freak out moment where the Dad in me pulled on the emergency brake and locked up.  I thought, "Layla is not old enough to be pursued by a boy!"  She's only 7 years old and Drew is giving her leaves, which I equate to a first-grader's version of buying roses.

There were no less than ten ways I could have responded to Layla in this situation, but I chose to  ignore the boyfriend aspect and be excited with her from the friends aspect.  She showed me how they feel on both sides and pointed out the pretty colors.  I showed genuine interest in how and why he gave her those and what they mean.  The conversation ended well and I discovered two things:  1. There is a primal dad instinct inside me to beat up any boy who even hints at showing romantic interest in Layla.  2. The simplest gesture goes a long way with Layla (and all girls for that matter) including stealing leaves from a tree you don't own and handing the crumpled mess of leaves to her.

I failed in the way I thought about that immature boy who is obviously not good enough for my Layla, but I succeeded in responding to her appropriately because she will continue to invite me into her world when I do.

In a related story...  I brought home flowers for Kendra one night after going to the gym.  I cut them and arranged them in the vase for her to see the next morning when she woke up.  The other thing to notice is Kendra's haircut.  This is the shortest I've ever seen her hair and I like it.  Too bad she doesn't, but she'll either get to like it or wait for it to grow out.

Easton and Layla are doing very well in school academically and socially.  They are reading at a pace significantly above the state, city, and their school comparisons.  The same goes for math and all other subjects.  Easton doesn't enjoy reading unless it is about topics of interest.  he gets to choose what books he uses to complete "reading logs", which are homework sheets where you describe what you read.  He's still intently focused on disasters (man made and natural) and outer space.

As parents we failed (so far) in getting Easton to broaden his horizons, but we are succeeding by allowing Easton to grow in his passion.

The goal of parenting is not to teach children to obey, comply with rules, or submit to authority, or peace and quiet or "I'm in control and you do what I say".  The goal is to steward their freedom.  The priority in parenting is connection, not control.  In other words, my priority is not to feel in control.

Most parents would say, if i de-prioritize me being in control, then what is left to motivate the child to make good choices?  If they are not motivated by fear of punishment, what will motivate them?  am i supposed to just abandon my stewardship as a parent with guidance and boundaries?  Yes!  but most people can't even fathom an approach that isn't about control.  Our parenting style is so far outside the boundaries of most people's thinking that I wonder if it's even worth explaining too deeply.

Anyway, here's Easton tackling reading homework like a champ.

One evening I decided to do some bike maintenance.  I asked Layla if she wanted to spend some quality time with me in the garage as my helper.  I wasn't sure of her level of interest, but she agreed and we had a great time.  I taught her how to remove and install pedals on the trail-a-bike and Kendra's bike.  I gave her a wrench, showed her how to do it and turned her loose.  We both ended up with greasy hands. I enjoyed getting Layla comfortable knowing her way around the toolbox.  It's a practical life skill every child needs!  In my typical instructional method I showed her one pedal.  We did the second pedal together, then I let her do the last two pedals all by herself.  That's the way to do it!

I failed in keeping our hands and clothes clean, but succeeded in getting Layla comfortable with a wrench.  The grease will wash off, but a girl who knows her way around a toolbox is unstoppable.

One evening I came home from work and gave the twins a few options of what we could do before dinner.  Since the wee-bump park is within bike-riding distance of our house we headed over there for some playground fun.  As we arrived we saw this little girl sitting on the end of the see-saw with no one on the other end to play with.  Layla walked right over and hoped on.  She introduced herself and asked the girl what is her name.  As the two of them hit it off I glanced over at her mom who was watching the scene.  She said, "Your daughter is very sweet and friendly."  I responded, "Thanks!  that's just the way God made her and I'm always excited for her to just be who she is.  I'm glad your daughter is so receptive and friendly back!"  Layla and her new friend played the entire time until we left the park.  She made sure to give a hug before we hopped on our bikes though.   Made me very proud to watch her show love so freely.  Easton met a couple of boys who were running around the playground too fast for me to take a picture.  His experience of meeting someone completely new and jumping into playground fun is similar to Layla's

We failed to make it home on time for dinner that Kendra had waiting for us, but succeeded in making friends by being friendly.  The most proud moment for me was watching them be friendly without me guiding the conversation or introduction.  I didn't even have to get them started.  it just happens naturally now and I love it.

Layla bought Easton a kite for Christmas and bought herself one at the same time.  They were fairly cheap, but I expected them to work.  We had a really windy evening and decided to take advantage of it by taking our kites out for a maiden voyage.  Both of them were so poorly designed that they would go up about 10 feet and then dive down to the ground or flip over and float down.  They didn't work at all!  I had visions of us lying on the grass together watching the kites float overhead.  Well, that didn't happen even for a single moment.  I ended up running with them back and forth across the field dodging the kites as they would dive-bomb me.  The twins busted up laughing every time one of their kites would come close to hitting me on the way down to the ground.

We failed to get the kites to stay in the air, but we laughed so hard our heads hurt as we chased these things around the soccer field.

This is a lesson in failure vs. success.  Sometimes it is in the eye of the beholder whether a particular event or circumstance was a failure or success.  As you can see, I find success in almost every situation.  I'm not interested in Easton and Layla being perfect.  I'm interested in them learning from every situation and making powerful choices.

See you soon!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Love You

Greetings friends and family,

Words begin with "life" in them, but over time they change and have less power and meaning.  In our hearing and repetition of them they have less impact from the receiver and the giver than what they began with.  When I was first dating Kendra I remember the moment I said, "I love you" for the first time.  Those words were connected with something real about how I felt and I really wanted her to know what I was feeling.  Somewhere along the way I started to use the words differently.  The same words that once had deep meaning changed to mean "I gotta go to work, i'll see you tonight."  the words themselves changed meaning.

That is one of the reasons I find new and creative ways to say "I love you" without using that phrase.  Lately my way of loving Kendra is to take on additional tasks around the house and with the kids so she can rest.  The doctor says she needs another month or more before her back will be completely healed.  In the mean time she is staying horizontal with lots of advil and ice packs.  Being with the twins is never a chore or a burden I have to take on.  I can't wait to hang out with them.  My absence from Kendra and the house gives her a chance to rest and heal.  Flowers, hugs, text messages, drawing on the bathroom mirror, and all kinds of other ways to say "I love you" with the same meaning and passion from when we were first dating.  And to think, we have a few more decades ahead to explore new ways!

This Saturday I took the kids to a birthday party at the roller skating rink.  It was like a time warp back to 1983.  The twins have only been roller skating once before, many moons ago.  I thought they would pick it up quickly because of their ice skating lessons...  Not so much.  Ice skates have a long blade that sticks out behind the heel.  That makes it easier to keep from falling backwards.  These old-school roller skates have nothing!  one bobble towards your heels and you're toast!  Easton and Layla had lots of crying and bruised buns, but overall we had a great time.  Most of their friends had the PVC pipe skate assistant thingy.  They never weened themselves of it either.  I never let the twins touch it because I knew they would use it as a crutch the whole day.

The birthday party included 13 girls and Easton.  I think Easton was invited because at school he hangs out with Layla sometimes and all her friends during recess.  The cool thing I noticed was that Easton was totally comfortable with this situation.  He didn't whine or complain that there were no other boys around.  He hung out with me most of the time though.

Occasionally I would get the twins to skate a lap around the rink with just us three, but Layla was the social butterfly she's always been.

The DJ announced there was a guest appearance of a Minion.  This was the highlight of the day for the twins.  I really want this costume for Halloween.

I asked Easton, "What girl do you like to hang out at recess the most.  He quickly answered, "Jordan".  That's it.  no further explanation or comment.  I asked a few more questions and I could tell he never even thought about why he likes to be around her.  I was perfectly happy to avoid the whole conversation about whether he LIKES her... you know... in that way.

From what the twins tell me there are plenty of kids in their first grade class who are interested in the opposite sex.  They gasp and giggle when the word "kissing" comes up, but I can't figure out why that is even a part of their first grade conversations at school?  Anyway, The roller skating experience was completely worth the time and effort to show up there.

We went from the rink to the birthday girl's house for the standard pizza and cupcake lunch.  Easton and Layla had to share a chair because it was a little bit ghetto.  Tiny area of a couple of small tables and a few chairs for 15 kids plus adults.  No big deal though.  Everyone was there for the same happy occasion and the kids didn't care about the accommodations.

The house also had an annoying parakeet and a guinea pig.  Each child got to hold it in the blanket (to avoid getting peed on) and pet its soft fur.  I was thrilled to have the twins get the experience of petting such a soft animal without us having to deal with a dead rat in our house.  Thank God for birthday parties!

I showed off my daddy strength the other day.  I told Easton and Layla to help pick lemons.  They stood outside with their bucket and said, "but Dad, we can't reach all the way up there?"  I grabbed one of the branches and shook the tree down as lemons fell to the ground.  they were amazed and I became a legend of epic proportions.  Easton said I was almost as strong as Oupa.  I sighed and said, "yes, you're right.  Oupa could push the tree over and let you pick the lemons off one-at-a-time."

It's hard to believe I'm one week away from turning 40 years old.  Kendra keeps asking me what I want to do for my birthday.  The truth is, all I want for my birthday is to be 25 years old again.  Since I can't have that I'll settle for just a birthday song from the twins and an early bedtime so I can get on with the business of living life.  I'm pretty sure there should be some sort of mid-life crisis attached to turning 40, but I don't know what that would look like.  My car is 13 years old and I'm perfectly content with it.  There are no plans for a shiny, red Corvette in my future.  I have so much to be thankful for and I don't know of anything I would change or add to my life right now.

Maybe that is my second impossible wish.  If I can't go back to age 25, then I choose to just freeze this moment in time and have nothing change at all, forever.  Easton and Layla will stay seven-years-old.  I'll stay in the position I have at work.  We'll continue to have the finances necessary so Kendra can keep on being the wonderful wife, mother, friend, and ministry leader she is.

There isn't much that is guaranteed in this world, but change is one of them.  I'm not worried about where life is headed.  I'm just really content and fulfilled right now.  I'm not looking for the next big thing or 15 minutes of fame to somehow propel me to stardom.  This is an odd place to be when compared to the standard 40 year old birthday milestone that I've heard about all my life.  All I can do is shrug my shoulders and thank God for the amazing amount of favor in my life that goes along with all the amazing people I get to share it with.

See you soon!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ride Like a Girl

Greetings friends and family,

The idea of "work hard, play hard" has a slightly more impactful meaning to me lately.  Kendra and I have been in our busy cycle of life and that means very few lazy evenings of crayons and coloring pages or walks to the park before dinner.  Because of that, when I get time with one or both of the twins we really make it count.  I'm on a regular cadence of having individual time with the kids about once every two weeks.  I give them a lot of flexibility to choose whatever they want to do with me and wherever they want to go.  The last time I had an evening free it was Easton's turn.  We went for a mountain bike ride at night.  Easton hyped it up so much that when it came time for Layla and I to hang out she wanted the same experience.  We loaded up the bikes and sat in the van to figure out where to go for dinner.

Layla requested sushi.  I said, "You bet!" We went to the revolving sushi place where we ate raw fish and rice until we were full.  Then we headed straight to the trail head to catch the sunset and a couple of photos of Layla with her halo of sunlight.

We call this trail head "the chains" because along the road there are block pillars with big chains between then.  Layla said, "I think Oupa could lift these" as she struggled to lift one of the links.

Through the entire ride she kept asking, "Did Easton ride this? Is this where Easton went?  Did Easton make it up this hill?"  She wanted to trace the exact path on the trails for some reason.  I think it was so they could compare notes. I assured her that we did the same trails.  During one of our breaks I said, "you ride like a girl, Layla."  She gave me a big hug and said, "Thanks Dad.  You're a good teacher."  I hope she always maintains that positive view of what it means to do something "like a girl".

As dusk turned into night we heard some coyotes off in the distance.  We stopped and talked back to the coyotes with loud howls.  Layla's eyes are closed as she strains to howl as loud as possible.

The city lights in the distance are too blurry to make out, but we were a long way up the mountain.  The light on top of her helmet was very helpful in making her feel safe and comfortable.  I thought she might get a little scared as the darkness of night slowly crept in.  Layla was extremely brave and loved every minute of our time on the bikes.  She asked when we can go again. That's a good sign that she enjoyed our adventure.

This brings me to my deep thought for the day.  I've never heard a person at the end of their life say, "I wish I hadn't spent so much time with my kids."  That tells me there will be no regrets with regards to where my time was spent when I get to my deathbed.  I don't spend time with Layla and Easton just so I can say, "see i spent time with you."  I spend time with them because it is one of the most fulfilling things I could ever experience.  Every day I look forward to seeing them when I walk in the door.  and kids know whether a parent is present or not in body or in emotion or in mind.  It is possible to be present in body, but somewhere else in your thoughts.  I make a conscious effort to be fully present as much as possible.  In the car, on the trail, at the park, wherever.  kids notice...

Kendra and I have close to zero free time, but the fast pace of leading 90 people through our class while building 15 leaders at once is completely worth it.  We are seeing people work through a variety of bad definitions, personal struggles, and past experiences.  We took two leaders with us down to our other campus and stopped for coffee on the way.  Every Wednesday is a 14 hour day when my corporate job is added to the travel and class time.  Every Sunday is a 13 hour day with church and class.  I know there are doctors who do that six days a week, but it's an adjustment for someone like me who isn't used to it.

There will be sleep enough in the grave.

See you soon!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nobody Hurry

Greetings friends and family,

We've got a couple of runners on our hands here.  Easton and Layla participated in the fun run at school.  What I mean is they were forcefully coerced to run around their playground to extort money from the parents.  Cleaver scheme if I've ever heard one.  Get the parents to pledge $1 per lap and then have them run around a basketball court as a "lap".  Well played, school system... well played.

It was almost worth it for the twins to have their lap counter fully filled in to indicate they ran the race all the way to the finish!  I am proud of them for completing the race.

Every Friday Easton has the opportunity to choose any book in the entire school library to bring home for a week of reading.  He pulled out this book with a passion I haven't seen since he first read about the Titanic.  It's titled, "The Disaster of the Hindenburg".

He started telling me all about how the airship went down in flames killing almost everyone on board.  I don't understand his interest in explosions and disasters, but that's not my role.  As a father I'm designed to help him find his passions and let him ride those waves as long and far as he likes.

Valentines Day was odd this year.  Kendra and I weren't in the holiday spirit so to speak.  We've had such busyness individually that we decided to make it a family day.  Most couples do the flowers, dinner, and movie, but we just wanted to be together as a family and rest.  There is nothing wrong with the standard Valentines routine, but I prefer to avoid the extremely crowded restaurants, high-priced flowers, and boring idea of sitting in the dark for two hours watching mindless nonsense.

It's just my opinion and last time I checked our government hasn't completely shredded the first amendment yet.   Anyway, there is nothing wrong with that Valentine's Day plan.  The question isn't about whether it is good or bad.  the question is: Does it bring life or is it simply following the written or unwritten rules of our culture.  There will be a time soon when I take Kendra out on a romantic date because I can't wait to be alone with her.  I will surprise her with flowers one day when I get the sense she could use a pick-me-up.  I will go to a chick-flick with her and be excited for whatever movie she is interested to see because I am interested in what she finds important.  Those are reasons to DO the things people do on Valentine's Day.  I just don't need a calendar day to tell me to do that.  I need a sensitivity to my wife to understand what she needs and wants.

OK, that's my soapbox for the day.    We rode our bikes to the breakfast place about two miles away. Each of us pedaling our own bike leisurely through the neighborhood.  Our time together over breakfast was extra special because nobody had to use the word "hurry!"  not even once.

Then we went to Costco for some bulk groceries (everyone needs an 80 pack of soup, right?).  The twins wore their Heely shoes and rode all around the store hanging on the shopping cart.  When we strolled up to the checkout line, the checker guy asked if Easton and Layla wanted to scan the items.  Of course Layla jumped all over that opportunity.

Easton took a turn also, but took much more time to scan because he was asking all these questions about how the scanner works and what the red laser lines do.  "Way to be inquisitive!" is how I responded to him.  Especially since none of us were in a hurry.

We also started our garden.  Well... kind of.  We have a separate value for the garden sprinkler system and we have a lovely area in the back corner of our yard where a garden could grow.  However, we have zero experience growing food so we asked our friends to help.  We brought over pots and learned from them how to plant.  The pots will stay at their house as we continue to learn through this season.  Then when the fall comes around we'll be ready to get our hands dirty in our own backyard.  Easton had a crash course in laying paver stones.  He learned the direction to lay them, how to make them level, and what order makes the pattern.  What a great helper he is becoming!

Layla also joined in the brick laying.  Her focus was on the texture and beauty of the bricks.  She just has a completely different focus than Easton, which is perfectly fine by me.  They both get the job done.  The way they do it is slightly different.  And besides, we weren't in a hurry!

The twins took about three days to become proficient with the Heely shoes.  Layla learned by watching a two minute video.  The next thing I saw was Layla wheeling down the hallway.  Easton watched the video, but kept putting his feet out like water skiers.  Then he watched Layla, She taught him how, then he tried and fell several times, then after a couple of days he got the hang of it.  Here's a picture of both of them rolling along.  

I know I posted a picture of the twins with their Heely present, but here's the video of their reactions.  Thanks to Nana and Papa for giving them the gift that keeps on giving.

The other thing we squeezed in on Valentine's day was a night ride for just Easton and I.  Layla and Kendra had a spa night with face washing, fingernail painting, and pampering.  Easton really wanted to hit the trail and experience the night life.  We arrived right at sunset to hear the sounds of a coyote pack off in the distance.  We kept our lights off for the first few yards of the trail to get adjusted to the night.  We rode four miles without a single cut or scratch.  Nothing behind us but the blackness of night over the desert.  The temperature was perfect and we both left with huge smiles.  That was a great Valentines Day.  Nobody said hurry even once, which is a rare day for the Webb household.

Sunday was a typical Sunday for us in this season of life and ministry.  I showed up at church by 8:30 am, took a short break in the afternoon to prepare for class that night, and then we arrived home after 9:00pm at night.  Such a long day, but completely worth the effort because we get an up-close view of what life-change looks like.  The class is going extremely well and Kendra is doing a great job of leading as usual.

Monday morning arrived and we took full advantage of the three-day-weekend.  Layla woke up late, but still managed to beat Easton out of bed. That's happened about 5 times in their entire lives.  We slummed around the house in our pajamas way too long, but nobody cared.  When we got our stuff together I took the twins to the Arizona Science Center.  The first thing we did was the planetarium because they had a new show about "extreme planets".  Easton was amazed and happy.  Layla was worried we were going to literally be sucked into a black hole.

The rest of the trip was great for both of them.  This spinning pole mounted to a metal plate was the highlight for Layla.  She pulled her ice skating moves to rotate super fast until she became so dizzy she had to stop.

Easton was a little clumsy, but did a fine job of spinning around.  He considers this G-force practice for astronaut training.

The three of us had a fun Daddy day together with minimal cost thanks to the Groupon membership.

It's amazing how quickly three-day weekends go no matter how productive or lazy I am.  It was definitely a great use of our days off.  Time to get back to the normal work-life balance starting tomorrow with many occasions to use the word, "hurry!"

See you soon

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Birth-WEEK?

Greetings friends and family,

Easton and Layla's birthday week came to a close in fine fashion.  They appreciate the cards and phone calls and Skype sessions.  The mundane trips to the mailbox became a daily moment of anticipation for what would come with their name on it.  I get bills, Kendra gets coupons, and the kids get all the coolest, most desirable things.

Layla reads her cards often.  For the first time in their 7 years of birthdays, they can read their whole card from start to finish.

Do I feel useless as a parent now that I'm not longer needed to read their cards?  Of course not!  That's one of the main focuses of being a good parent; to empower them to be independent or rather, interdependent.

Easton took his birthday money to Toys 'R Us and went straight to the Lego Star Wars aisle.  He bought the biggest, most expensive set his money could get.  By the time we got home and ready for bed he was already 25% done with the spaceship.  We did our bedtime routine and I sent him to bed.  Kendra and I did all the busy work stuff that we put off until the kids go to bed.  

The next morning Kendra walked into Easton's room and found his ship was magically done.  He stayed up late without our knowing and put it together.  This created a couple of problems for us.

Easton made a bad choice by crossing the boundary of staying in bed when it's bed time.  For that, he had a bad consequence of a two-day timeout from the space ship.  However, Layla loudly proclaimed, "I heard Legos in Easton's room last night."  Easton became angry because she tattle tailed.  He quickly chimed in with, "Well, how did you know that unless you were out of your bed in the hallway listening?"  Aha!  He got her on that point.  So Layla had her own bad consequence.

I was impressed by Easton's passion for building his Lego set. I had a hard time giving bad consequences because he wasn't causing any problems or doing something bad.  He just wasn't doing what we asked.  Gotta pick your battles.

I got out for a mountain bike ride with my friend David.  That made my day.  The longest sickness I've ever had is finally almost gone.  It's gone enough that I don't sound like I'm going to keel over dead when I cough even when I'm huffing and puffing up a hill.  I can't wait for a time soon when I can get away for a few days of mountain biking fun instead of always squishing it into a 90 minute block of time.

Easton and Layla's final birthday celebration included Uncle Logan and Aunt Bree.  the two of them came over for dinner, card games, and to help the twins with their homemade Valentine's day cards.  Yes, you read correctly.  Kendra is so frugal she avoided buying two boxes of Valentine's day cards for the twins.  Instead, she pulled out some pink paper, cut it into strips and gave the kids a pen to write with.  Logan and Bree were kind enough to help them stay interested long enough to complete the task.  As you can see by Easton's frown, he could care less about Valentine's day and all the "lovey lovey" stuff.

Angel food cake with fresh strawberries was a delicious way to sing happy birthday for the last time.  Easton ate it too fast and felt sick.  Kendra helped him gag and he puked it out.  I know that's gross, but I will always remember this as the angel food cake puke incident.  Easton learned his lesson about stuffing an enormous piece of cake down this throat too quickly.  I can tell he won't do that again!

Logan and Bree gave good bedtime hugs good night for the twins as they headed off to bed.  Bree's pink hair matched Layla's pink polka dots really well!  This was the only family we had visit the twins this year for their birthday.  Kendra and I had hoped for out of towners to come visit, but we understand how the timing didn't work out.  The twins were not terribly disappointed because we had so many events, activities, meals, and Bree and Logan.  They were overwhelmed with love and attention this past week.  I consider it to be completely successful!

The twins have Monday off from school and I have it off from work!  Time to have some outdoor family time.  We have big plans of hiking, biking, picnicking, playing, shopping, and even some time to just sit around and do nothing.  Maybe even some chores if we plan well enough.

See you soon!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Happy 7th Birthday

Greetings friends and family,

Today is a record for the number of days I've been a father:  Seven years.  I would be shocked if any parent in the history of parenting would say, "Time has gone by so slow these past few years" at a child's seventh birthday.  I see this as a fast-paced sprint through the woods at night... in the fog... where I pause for a brief moment to catch my breath and realize this:

I have no idea where I've been
I have no idea where I am right now
I have no idea where I'm going
Oh well...  I'll keep running!

There isn't a clear well-groomed path behind me where I can point some other new father towards.  Likewise, there is no path in front of me or a map with a big "you are here" star on a path.  Even more troubling, there is no measure or data or metric to indicate where I SHOULD be at this great milestone of parenting seven-year-old twins.

No dad can tell me where to go next and I have no clear answer for other dads who look up to me.  This is not frightening or concerning at all though.  It is freeing.  I realize there are guidelines and boundaries and good and evil, but that's not what I live from each day.  it's a constant evaluation of each new day.  I compare it to being dealt a new hand of cards every morning without knowing what game is being played.  knowing what cards are in my hand is only half the battle.  Are we playing poker or old maid or go fish?  It's that kind of daily mystery that I find so intensely fun about parenting.

Anyway, This was the first time I held these two bundles of joy in my hands at the same time.

Seven years later they are so tall I can barely pick one of them up with all my strength and both arms.  We shared a chocolate Costco butter cream cake after Easton and Layla blew out the candles together.

Neither of them asked for a separate party or cake or attention.  One of the measures of their success as a twin is whether they can be themselves as individuals whether they are isolated or together or in a huge crowd.  As you can see they have no problem being who they were created to be.

A few months ago we asked what they wanted for their birthday.  They chatted for a while and said "a sleep over with Zander and Joya!"  They are church friends who's parents are also our friends.  We agreed and took it a step further by setting up a family sleep over.  All four of them stayed the night at our house so we had a 24 hour birthday celebration.  To start with I took the four kids to a golf lesson.  The twins were able to bring a friend for free so we made the most of it.

Easton and Zander did an OK job of paying attention to the instructor.  Zander is athletic so the two boys had a great time swinging the clubs.

Layla spent part of her lesson conversing with the instructor.  I have no idea what they talked about but I enjoy watching her speak to adults with such great confidence and respect.

The weather was perfect and they all had a great time.  Traffic was a nightmare going home, but we had pizza for dinner before the birthday cake and official song.

Their friend's mom and dad are the worship leaders at our church so the happy birthday song was extra special.  Not many kids can say they were sung to by the worship leaders.  There were only a few presents this year because we didn't have a huge party with tons of kids.  The twins were completely fine with this.  They each had one gift from their friends and one gift from Nana and Papa to open.  The birthday celebration was not hampered one bit by the small number of gifts.  Nana and Papa bought them Heely shoes.  They have a wheel in each heel, which allows them to skate across the floor.  They were super excited to get the gifts and appreciative too.

The kids played in the hot tub then went to bed.  The adults had our time in the hot tub and then crashed too.  The next morning we had a huge breakfast together and hung out.  We enjoyed simple things like riding bikes and playing in the park and throwing a football.  Then we did the only event Easton and Layla requested.  We went ice skating together!  Kendra's back still isn't fully recovered so she and the other mom watched from the cold bleachers.  Easton was so proud to teach Zander how to skate.  There aren't many things Easton does better than Zander, but this is one of them!

Us two dads skated our way around the rink making sure not to run over any little kids or get taken out by the overly aggressive hockey dudes.

Easton and Layla gladly smashed their face against the window when I suggested we do this for a silly picture.

We all did it and laughed for a whole lap around the rink.

The zamboni took its turn around the rink to smooth it out.  We had a group photo opportunity without the glass bouncing the flash back at the camera.  I'd say ice skating is the highlight of the birthday weekend because the twins will remember it the most.

After our friends left Layla still wanted to skate more so I went with her.  She was showing me some moves and I caught a video of her skating around the center of the ice.

 One of the many things I've learned from my own life as well as being a father is this:  It is MY responsibility as a dad to pursue relationship with my child.  and even more importantly I should be interested in what Easton and Layla are passionate about.  I've seen too many fathers who simply live their lives and allow their kid to join them in what the father is doing instead of taking an interest in what the kid likes.  That model of "lead by example" without showing interest will only work as long as the parent and child pursue the same passions.

Layla asked if I would help her color her new purse.  You bet I would!  It's a good sized back that comes with markers.  We decorated it exactly as she wanted.  I will continue to be interested in what she likes for as long as i live.  Getting down on her level to do what she wants is the most valuable way I can spend my time.

Easton asked if I would help him work through a problem he hit in building his new Lego helicopter.  You bet I will!  We worked backwards through the directions, fixed the misplaced Lego, and finished it up.

I am blessed to have two kids who invite me into their world.  They expect me to get on their level and be interested in what they love.  That makes me happy.  They will relate to God in the same way.  One of my favorite verses says, "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  This implies relationship.  It's not possible to have this kind of mentality without relationship.

How can a child expect to approach their Heavenly father boldly in their time of need if their Earthly father wouldn't give them the time of day?

I am content in knowing Easton and Layla will have no problem asking God for help.  This is possibly my greatest accomplishment in seven years of being a father.


Happy Birthday to my Easton and Layla.