Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring is on its way

Hi family,

The first winter in Seattle is always the most difficult, from what I've been told.  I'm still not tired of the rain, but I'm getting to the point where a few hours of sunshine each week would be like Superman rising above the clouds to recharge his batteries.  On my drive home from work I took the time while stopped at a stop light to get a picture of my sun roof with sun coming through the open space.  It's the first time I've opened it since moving here 6 months ago!  Spring is on its way.

Our den gets a lot of use.  most evenings you'll find Kendra cuddled up on the couch watching cooking shows.  Here she is shaking her head in disgust and yelling at the tv while the lady on the "Joy of Cooking" uses a whisk instead of a spatula.  "how could you!?!?"  she says.  and I just laugh...

Layla found a new neighborhood friend who lives only 8 houses down on our street!  she is one year younger than Layla, but when the "Just Dance" game starts up on the XBOX 360 kinect, age doesn't matter.  I tried to jump in on their dance party, but Layla quickly shoved me out of the way.

Easton uses the game table as his personal work shop for Lego building.  He is spreading his passion for Lego building blocks across his newfound excitement of the video game Halo.  He's super excited about all the little rocket blasters and cannons.

We invited our first house guests over this past weekend.  They are our next door neighbors whose son plays with Easton several times per week.  We made them dinner and spent a while conversing while the kids played together.  We are starting to get a real heart of compassion for our neighborhood and it feels like our first steps into reaching out is just over the horizon.

Kendra and I are both feeling that a shift in moment and direction is coming soon.  A shift where we are able to start interacting and having an impact on our sphere of influence.  For now we are content with continuing to unpack boxes because we're not even close to being fully done.  Kendra's rest and comfort are on the top of our list.  With that being our main focus, we are succeeding.

See you soon!

Monday, March 13, 2017

All Getting Along

Hi family,

I'm 42 years old now.  probably should start some sort of mid-life crisis because I could live to be 84.  After dumping virtually every dollar we had into our house and moving our family to Seattle, I'm a little shy on cash for a mid-life crisis.  i'll postpone it for a couple of years...  My birthday has consistently sucked for the past 9 years because my Uncle Dave passed away on the day before my birthday.  Even so, I'm grateful he was able to hold my babies and see how the cycle of life flows.  I'm grateful for my health and unbelievably blessed life I have.  Every morning I wake up and look over to see Kendra sleeping next to me.  that is the best birthday gift I could ever receive.  Kendra made me a special chocolate cake with chocolate icing.  She knows me so well...

Our house is as "done" as we are going to get, finally.  our couch and chairs arrived so we have a place for guests to sit in our living room.  I'm planning for pictures this coming weekend to reveal the work done in the past three months.  Here's a preview of our couch with Max resting on a pillow.  He is super excited about the blinds being open and the couch sitting high enough for him to watch all the peeople walk by.

Here's our living room.  new floors and couch and chairs, but same old dining room table and credenza.  it's feeling a lot more like home now that we have zero boxes in the living room.

Layla and Easton's rooms came out really well and the twins are happy with it.  Kendra added their letter to the door as a finishing touch on their room decorations.  it is nice for them to both have their own space to play and read and sleep.

I've been very neglectful of taking pictures of the twins lately, but the adventures continue, daily.  Easton is slowly migrating his passion from Jurassic World and Star Wars to Pokemon and the video game, Halo.  he completed Halo 3 and found out there is a 4th and 5th game in the saga.  i'll end up buying that for him soon because we are having fun playing it together.  He wants me to buy my own Pokemon cards, but he has plenty for us to play the card game and to talk about.  He knows almost every statistic about every Pokemon character and he quizzes me regularly to see if i'm up to speed.  He's amazingly smart and knowledgable about topics he loves.

Layla is still going strong with her figure skating.  She's going to private lessons twice per week and a group lesson once per week.  I'm am so very glad we live less than 15 minutes from the ice skating arena.  On Saturday mornings I get up early and we have some doughnut time together before she gets on the ice.  I'm excited to see her individual performance coming up in two weeks.  She's been working hard on and off the ice to get the routine down.

Kendra and I are doing well.  We took time for a day date while the kids were in school and it was one of the best times we've had in a while.  Just her and i sharing a meal and taking a walk together through some scenic places.  The sign on the wall caught my attention so i took a picture of us to describe the feeling of the day. I'm looking forward to Kendra feeling more at home in Seattle, but until then I am perfectly happy being strong enough for the both of us in this area.

See you soon!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Winter Scout Camp

Hi family,

For my birthday I got Layla a stuffed animal and Easton a Nerf gun.  That's what happens when you get older.  instead of getting gifts, it's more about ignorning the facts of getting old and continuing to be a provider for the family.  I gladly received a few gifts and cards, but as far as birthday celebrations go, this one was about as average as I've experienced during the past decade or so.  I'm just happy to have a healthy Kendra and growing twins.  They are the best gifts I could ever ask for.  The real celebration was for Kendra's bone scan results that showed no signs of cancer.  She was concerned because she's been dealing with pain in her hip and back for several months.  Whatever it is, we can work through it together.

My birthday celebration was pushed out from my actual day because I was busy interviewing a potential candidate for position on my team.  Then, I spent the weekend at cub scout winter camp with Easton.  We drove out East up to the mountains where about 200 cub scouts and fathers had a great time together.  We had no cell phone reception or wifi from our cabin.  that was one of the highlights for me.  The views were like something out of a post card with the snow covered trees and rock cliffs.

The cabins were dirty and rudamentary at best.  24 bunks with seriously old pads to sleep on and flickering lights.  It was better than sleeping in a tent on the cold snow, but just barely!  The first night there we were the only ones in the entire cabin.  We went a few weeks after Easton's pack because that week sold out before we joined the organization.  The pack that reserved two cabins filled the other one up first and left ours for the "saturday night only" crowd that filed in during the next moring after we had the whole place to our selves.

Easton's favorite memory of the cabin was waking up at 3:00am, walking out to the back patio, and peeing off the deck into the white snow.  There are some experiences you just can have in Phoenix and that's one of them.  He also had a great time sledding and tubing.  There was a hill just behind the campground where a continual stream of kids raced down the slope. 

One of the crafts was a wooden cross bow that shoots straws with a rubber band.  It was the best $3.50 I've spent in a long time.  The great part of the weekend was how involved the dads were with the boys.  I thought it might be more hands off where the dads are sitting around reading books in the cabins while the boys have their adventures, but it wasn't like that at all.  every single class and gathering was full participation with the dads. 

I took a few pictures of our time together and I call this one "frozen webs" because we were both way under-prepared for the two feet of snow and freezing temperatures. 

One of the classes was for search and rescue. Easton didn't really know what that was until we got into the lesson.  he was very into it when they strapped the guy to the board and learned how to pack him on there. 

and the BB gun shooting was a big confidence booster for him since he's already shot .22 rifles and pistols.  He nailed the tiny target with every BB and felt like the king of the camp. 

The two of us went exploring up in the mountain alone during one of the free time slots.  We jumped in snow banks and scrambled up mossy rock ledges to get a breath-taking view of the mountain across the way from us.  I let him lead the way since that is part of what we go to camp for:  to help him learn to lead.

Easton earned his "whittling chip", which is a business card with his signature and the scout leader's signature.  It indicates he is authorized to carry a pocket knife.  I'm really glad we went through the safety class and explanation of how to handle a knife.  He is on his way to being a real outdoorsman. 

Probably one of the most enjoyable weekends for he and I that we've ever had.  we'll definitely plan more frequent trips alone.  I only have a few more years before he heads off to college, but we're just getting started with the kind of adventures I've been dreaming about since the day he was born.

see you soon!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Birthday finally over

Howdy family,

I'm finally wrapping up the birthday pics and stories because this feels like a never ending story.  The twins will stretch out the festivities as long as they are getting presents, celebration time, or cupcakes.  Eating out with the 4 Webbs is always an adventure.  Kendra and the twins were making a similar face and I had a good laugh as I caught their simultaneous expressions.  I had them recreate the look so I could capture it in a picture.

Kendra and Layla look more alike every day.

Alaysha was on the birthday bandwagon express and joined in with gift giving.  She is very thoughtful and fits in so well as a big sister.  Layla received a heart shaped vanity mirror because there are zero mirrors on the second floor of our abode.  She gave Easton the ultimate guide to pokemon characters.  Now he's a walking pokemon encyclopedia who knows what turns into something else and all of their stats.

We vistited Doyle and Christy one evening because they are the only friends we have here in Seattle who have known us longer than a couple of months.  They prepared a great home-cooked meal for us, including a perfect birthday moment with singing to them and blowing out candles on cupcakes.

There is something very comforting about being around someone who knows you and has a history.  We appreciate them very much and hope they will also give Ouma and Oupa one more reason to come visit more often.

When I wrote the previous post i didn't have all of the pics yet from my daddy day with Easton.  This is the official space needle picture we took before getting on the elevator.  I like the other one better where Easton is on my back, but this one looks a little more enticing because there is a sunset.

We are still discovering local parks on the brief breaks in the weather.  I told them we are going to a new place so be prepared for it to be great or terrible.  Turned out to be very age appropriate and enjoyable.  Plenty of structures to climb on and other kids to run around with.  you can't have adventures without adventuring!

During one of our many outings to Target, we found a lego batman scavenger hunt was being conducted by the store.  We walked around to find all of the Batman pictures hung up in various locations.  Their prize was a tiny lego penguin and a poster that we threw away the day after we earned them because they didn't really care that much about the swag.

The biggest accomplishment of the month of February was getting to the very last unopened box from our move.  I am happy to announce that every single box has at least been opened and inspected.  Not all boxes are unpacked, but I'm happy to take one victory at a time.  We are still hanging pictures and painting, but there are some days where we don't do any home improvement task at all.  That means we are getting closer to being done with the move.

See you soon!

Friday, February 17, 2017

One-on-one birthday party

howdy fam,

The great birthday, which really was a week or a month, is finally ending and our nine year old twins are taking full advantage of our celebration atmosphere.  The weekend before their birthday was too cold and rainy so we planned a big day on the Saturday after.  I don't even know when this picture was taken, but it shows their normal mode of transportation any time our car ride takes longer than 20 minutes.  The wireless headsets and movie screen are very valuable.  They keep their coats on all the time and Max is a good middle-seat rider with us.

I took Easton for a one-on-one daddy birthday trip.  I told him we could go anywhere he wants and do whatever he wants, within reason.  He chose the Space Needle tour and the Museum of Fight.  The space needle was a big hit.  Easton was hyped up from the moment we arrived until we walked out of the gift store at the bottom.  The views were amazing.  We walked 360 degrees around the top while talking about every major landmark and odd thing we saw.  He did a report about it during our home school days in Bellevue.  The facts and details he knew about the space needle before we even went up was impressive.

Then we went to the museum where we wandered through thousands of square feet of indoor and outdoor displays.  fighter jets, old planes, and the best one was the Boeing 787 dreamliner.  We finally had the chance to walk through one and see the cockpit.

We ended our day with a trip to Target where he picked out some pokemon trading cards to add to his collection.  He has a couple of friends at school, but since he's still really new we didn't want to waste time and money on a party with a bunch of kids he may or may not be friends with in the next few years.

When i picked him up from school one day i discovered he was secretly trading pokemon cards with another kid.  apparently they are outlawed on campus so as soon as school hours were over he was wheelin' and dealin'.  This is by far his most passionate pursuit to date and i'm glad he is excited about something that requires him to use his memory, read, follow along in a big story, and interact with other kids.

Layla and Kendra had a mommy/daughter date while Easton and i were out on the town.  Layla had her first spa day including a manicure and shopping.  i'm not sure if Kendra took any pictures of her day-long birthday outting, but here's a picture of Layla and I from the birthday storm.  the pond didn't freeze this time, but it turned our neighborhood into a winter wonderland.  The other night at bedtime, after i said, "i love you!" she said, "Dad, you always say I love you a million times a day."  I said, "that's perfect.  exactly what I hope you will experience as my daughter."

See you soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Life in the PNW

Greetings family,

I'll have to go through this post one picture at a time because there are weeks and months worth of life.  One of the most important developments is how Kendra's CT scan came back negative and she is clean as a whistle.   No cancer, so let's get on with the more important things like family and settling into our new Washington world.  There's a lot going on in this picture.  Layla dessed up for the "decades" day at her school.  Easton did not participate because he could care less about those kinds of special occasions at school.  She dessed as the 80's girl and pulled it off smashingly.  The mud closet behind her is Kendra's special project.  This is just a mid-progress shot as you can see painters tape.

The 4 Webbs took an afternoon hike.  it's a rare occasion for all of us to go adventuring together because usually there is one parent working on house stuff and one parent out adventuring.  We took a half-mile hike down to lake washington through a green forest trail.

At the end of the trail is a shoreline and scenery that is spectacular in a peaceful, wintery sort of way.

There is a hollowed-out tree where Easton and Layla played for a while.  Easton invited me in and I had to crouch down to fit.  The inside opened up about 8 feet high into the middle of this massive tree.

Layla is always telling Max what to do and where to go because she is a natural leader.  Max willingly does what he's told.  This was a funny picture where he charged towards me when I opened my baggie of snacks.

Kendra pointed out how the trees have little buds sprouting out.  It was a prophetic moment where she was intensely tuned into new life happening, much like what's going on in her body.  Aliveness!

This is her official "cancer-free" picture since we found out her CT scan shows no signs of it anywhere.  We were both extremely relieved to say the least.  I sense Kendra is starting to dream again about her future and purposes of her life beyond just being a wife and mom.  I am way more excited about the future than she is, but hearing her talk about what God has in store for her and us is music to my ears.

Seattle froze.  I mean the whole city.  The twins and I walked down to the tiny pond in our neighborhood to find it frozen.  We skated and broke ice for hours on end.  Layla found this basket that froze in the middle of the pond.

They stayed still just long enough for me to snap a selfie and then they were off again attempting to break the ice finding ways to play soccer with the ice chunks.

Max didn't like his cold paws on the ice, but he stayed with us the whole time as we explored.  The twins had never been on a frozen anything other than an ice skating rink.  The experience was one they will never for get because it was super fun and an extreme departure from what they knew in Phoenix life.

Layla made friends at the ice skating rink, as we would expect.  The two of them were waiting around for the zamboni driver to finish his job.  Layla received some light-up gloves where the fingers flash a variety of neon colors.  She confidently glided onto the ice and completed her hour-long skate session while boldly flashing her lit hands around.  Figure skating created this odd dual nature in her where she gladly catches the attention of the whole rink while out on the ice, but in our own house or car she is bashful sometimes. 

But there are other moments when these two hams will be silly with me.  Their rooms are right against each other in our new house.  They go into each other's rooms often and have a secret slot on the front of each door where they each have a special key, which is just a safeway club card.  Imaginations are super important!

Alaysha went with the 4 Webbs on a family bike ride.  We tested out the ride to school and made it in seven minutes on our bikes.  During the spring, the twins will eventually ride their bikes to school together.  That'll be a big milestone for us all.  Anyway, Alaysha joins in with the kids on many levels including reading books, playing hide-and-seek, and swinging with them.  We are blessed to have her around!

Kendra's friend list is still really short since we are still getting settled.  Alaysha is great to have around for girl time with Kendra when I am just not able to fulfill all of her needs for connection and conversation.  The twins gave us a tour of their school and we ended up on the playground where a map of the US is painted.  These two danced around from state to state.

I love leading my family in many ways.  on bike rides, moving to a new state, and doing life together one day at a time.  this is one of my favorite pics from the last few weeks because it captures our whole crew in one action shot.

Easton informed us about an optional "science night" at their school.  Layla reluctantly agreed to go. we showed up to find the place was packed solid with most of their friends from class, their parents, and a gym full of interactive science experiments.  One exhibition was a tarantula petting table.  that's a real tarantula on Easton's hand.  as you can see by the smile on his face, he was amazed by the experience.  There are no pictures of Layla because she was off playing with her friends and avoiding the tarantula table.

During our family hike down to lake Washington Kendra took this picture of Easton and I walking out on the fallen tree together.  It's more artistic than my normal pics because Kendra is better than me at capturing these type of moments. 

One of the few advantages of moving into a house is the fun that boxes provide.  The twins made their own box caves up in the loft.  even though their rooms are a few steps away, there is something extra fun about playing in a box.  ask any cat...

I told Easton to read this book called capitalism for kids.  He told me he already understands punctuation.  I giggled to myself many times after that response because the book is not about capital letters.  it's about the economy and the way our country works.  I told him I would pay him 5 bucks if he read it.  Not only did he read it, but he wrote a two page report about the book and read it out loud to me.  thus proving, capitalism works...  even for a nine year old. 

See you soon!