Saturday, February 17, 2018

Winter home life

Hello family!

Disneyworld is just around the corner for us!  I can't wait to take a vacation from everything.  I'll be unplugged from work and life and doctors and responsibilities for a short time with the 4 Webbs on the biggest adventure we've taken so far.  

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...  Easton and Layla are learning to code.  There is a product called a code car that ships a USB connected integrated circuit board that is shaped like a car.  The software online allows you to use code samples to make the lights and noises do different things.  They both did really well, but it only took about 30 minutes to work through all of the examples.  Now they will need to get creative with the code and edit it manually.  That's when the fun will begin.  I told them both, "as long as you can code, you'll always have a job.


I took Easton and Kain out for community service project just because.  our neighborhood pond was looking a little trashy so we took a trash bag and a long stick to clean up it up.


I was proud of them for figuring out ways to reach the trash even after repeated saying, "i can't...".  sometimes it's the little accomplishments that build confidence. 


Easton used his chore money to buy a laser gun game.  He convinced Layla to join in.  They ran around the house playing the modern version of laser tag.  it's a great indoor game on these cold, rainy days at home.


Layla is getting ready for her next performance in March. She is improving so much lately.  The olympics are fun to watch with her because she calls out the moves and knows which ones are truly impressive. 


We have been watching the winter olympics almost every night.  Easton's neighbor friend comes over frequently and does whatever we are doing as a family.  dinner time, watching a show, or playing board games.  Tashinga is happy to join in. 


Layla has her own pal, Max to share a chair with as we cheer for the figure skaters.  Kendra sits next to me on the couch since she is the most interested person in the house when it comes to olympic events. 


That's all i have time for today, but I'm starting to write out my final blog post already so the curtain is about to close on the 4 Webb's blog soon. 


Monday, February 12, 2018

10 year olds, finally

Hello family... and classmates of Easton and Layla,

The twins informed me they brought up this blog site on the computers at school and showed their friends.  I'm really happy for them to share the pics and videos and stories, but this is a milestone I've been waiting on for a long time.  For the past 10 years I've been blogging regularly.  I've been planning to end this when they turned 10 or whenever they started to share their own story.  It looks like those two milestones are going to happen at the same time.

With their 10th birthday and the Disney World trip coming up soon i'm committed to end this blog on a high note after our vacation is over.

Six weeks into the new year and we are still going strong with our nightly reading of the New Testament so that we complete it by the end of 2018.  First, we do math by dividing the number of scriptures by the number of people who are reading.  Then we decide who will read which section.  Then we do reading and grammar as we read aloud through the chapter.  Those benefits are just an added bonus for the real reason why we do this.  The main goal is to develop spiritual warriors with Biblical literacy.  We spend about 15 minutes reading and 5 minutes talking.  They still see this as a "do we have to" kind of thing, but i'm confident by the end of the year they will have a healthier desire to spend time in the Bible. 


Layla's figure skating is primary, but occasionally she gets a chance to cheer, which she enjoys almost as much as skating.  She went to an evening camp for two days and then half-time performance with the high school cheer squad during their basketball game.  She was front-and-center with her high intensity spirit. 


The 4 Webbs are full of anticipation as we prepare for our Disney trip.  Pirate costumes are not required, but we are going the extra mile to have a full experience on the cruise ship. 


Our semi-coordinated shirts will be nice and cool as we run around Disney World in the 83 degree heat and sunshine.  I can almost feel it on my face already.


In the Seattle winter we have to find ways to get our activity badge for the day.  I took the twins and their friends to my gym for family night.  Easton and Kain spent most of their time in the nerf gun room, shooting random strangers. 


Layla and Makya bounced around the jump houses and danced to the big screen videos. 


I took the crew to Red Robin because I was crazy enough to let them choose.  I hope they continue to see me as the "cool dad" who gets to be included in their fun. 


Sometimes we go on outdoor adventures whether it is raining or not.  I took the boys and Max out for a hike because when the sun peaks through the clouds I want my face to be there to catch it.  I'm secretly doing some cross training with Easton to prepare him for our boys trip this summer. 


Easton and Layla are 10 years old.  It's a fact, but Kendra and I are having a tough time coming to grips with this.  Not because we don't want them to be 10, but the realization is that we have pre-teens in our house and we must adjust our parenting to fit their stage of life.  We celebrated their official day at Red Robin because they chose... again...


Layla was most excited about the staff singing their happy birthday song for the whole restaurant to hear.  and the sundae.  that was significant too.



I'm planning for one more post before we leave and then one or two after we return before I pull the plug on the whole blog.  I'll use a program i have to capture the entire blog into a large e-book just for posterity sake.  After that it will be up to the twins to tell their own story. 

See you soon!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Laziness and vacation prep

Hi family,

January proved to be a difficult month for the 4 Webbs.  not exactly the way i wanted to start the year, but I don't give much power to time segments of life.   Some people have already written off 2018 based on a few situations or setbacks, but I've never been one to forfeit a year, month, week, day or even hour of life based on circumstances.

Anyway, we have some bright sunshiny days ahead even though we are in the depth of the winter cycle here in Seattle.  We limit the screen time for the kids because otherwise they would be zombies.  Easton plays Minecraft on the weekends with anyone who will join him, including me.  We play cooperatively and competitively against each other with great success.  I measure success based on how Easton still includes me in what he likes to do.  We have fun and laugh often so i'll continue to be included in his playtime as long as he will invite me.  If Kain is available then he hangs out with at our house where Max gets more pets, games have more players, and I get some time to do things on my own.


Over Thanksgiving I spent some time with my nephews who are extremely musically talented.  I was inspired by them and picked up my guitar again regularly for the first time in years.  Each finger is forming a callous from the strings and I'm enjoying using the internet for guitar chords.  The last time I was playing back in college there were no sites with full listings of songs and music.  so much to play!  Layla and Easton have a computer next to mine so Layla joins me in singing along when she knows the song.  There is something special about singing together as a family.


A break in the rainy season gave us a weekend gift of being outside without being soaked.  The playground is still wet, but that doesn't stop Washington residents from playing.  The tire swing was the biggest hit as Clay and I swung the kids around to the point of dizziness. 


On the hiking trail we took a detour off the path to a creek.  The mud and sand were so deep that it almost swallowed their rain boots as they squished into it.  The scene looks like another planet or at least a well-designed movie set.   


Easton took a break from the tire swing on the second time through the playground because he didn't want to lose his lunch. 


Layla took a solo spin on the puke machine, proving she's a little more excited about adrenaline experiences than Easton. 


Not many pictures of Kendra lately because she's been in bed or sometime around the house, but rarely outside or in any state of picture readiness.  For the past month she's been at the hospital way too much with gut issues.  She's still not in the clear, but we are at least confident she is cancer-free still.  The variety of issues, including back pain, are keeping her from increasing her stamina and strength.  Our upcoming Disney trip is a big motivator, but we are praying and believing she will be healed before then.  In the mean time, we have some awesome neighbors and friends who are taking care of Kendra and us to supplement my full time job of employee, father, husband, maid, taxi, and the 100 other titles Kendra and I usually share. 


vacation is coming soon and I'm holding that as the carrot on the stick in front of my face to keep this donkey going.

See you soon!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Seasons

Howdy family,

I'm rarely aware of exactly what is being passed down from me to the twins.  Sometimes it's mannerisms, sometimes vocabulary, sometimes the very things Kendra and I detest in character, habits, and communication.  Once in a while I intentionally pass down something to them like snow ice cream.  With the last snow we made sure to have two full batches of the good stuff.  I showed them the ingredients and how to make it.  then I cut them loose to make their own and it turned out great.  We pigged out during a good bonding moment and i'll probably never forget it even though it was unremarkable to most people. 


Kendra and I went out for a few hours alone while Ouma was in town.  We drove up to Christy's Mom's house while she was out of town and sat on her back deck overlooking the Sound.  In the middle of Kendra's recovery from whatever this is going on in her bowels, we found a few minutes to just rest and exist side-by-side with a beautiful view.  There were many days before this picture and many after where she has felt terribly sick and struggled through pain, but there are these moments where the rain stops (literally and figuratively) and the sun breaks through.  I love these moments.


i've been filling many roles lately that Kendra has done historically, but can't right now.  I've made breakfast before, but not all the time.  i've taken the kids around like a taxi, but not all the time.  i've managed the bed time routine often, but not all the time.  The last few weeks have allowed me to spend high quality and lots of quantity time with the kids.  I'm excited for Kendra to get back to a teamwork level equal in this, but i'm content and seeing the positive benefits of focusing every waking minute on our family other than work time. 

Kendra gave the twins their own Starbucks mini-coffee mugs for Christmas.  They are supposed to be ornaments, but i use them for fresh-squeezed juice shots in the morning.  Of course, Layla is pink and Easton is blue.  what's new...


The value of our family time together is never more visible than when we read our chapter-per-night from the Bible.  On this night we made full use of our king-size bed where all four of us were side-by-side. 


Our Sunday morning turned into church at home as we crammed onto the living room couch together.  This was the first time we really spent time in prayer and teaching how to hear God.  We prayed for Kendra and planted some seeds for going after some big time dreams and goals.  We'll look back on this day as the start for some significant outcomes.  For now it just looks like we dug a hole and threw some seeds in it.


While the neighborhood watched NFL playoffs I rounded up the neighbor kids and took them on a hike in the woods.  in the rain...  with two dogs. 


The scenery was amazing, as always.  I was proud of the kids for tackling the 2 mile mud trail with only small amounts of whining.  Some of these kids may end up as trail running champions.  if so, i'm taking credit for it now. 


Most couples, married and single, go on dates that are normal.  movie and dinner, driving adventure, shopping, and all manner of picture-worthy fun.  We'll get back there soon, but for now we spend our alone times at the hospital.  We're both so tired of doctors and hospitals.  My eye rolling is exactly how i feel about spending a day-date with Kendra as she gets a colonoscopy. 


We are 25 days out from taking our family Disney World trip. We have to get a few things squared away first with Kendra's help, but we are seriously looking forward to this.  After a year of planning and thousands of dollars paid, we are at a fever pitch around the Webb house just itching to go have some serious fun together. 

See you soon!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hospital to Home

Greetings family,

Well this year is getting off to an eventful start.  Kendra spent 4 days in hospital after dealing with excruciating abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms.  Because of her history and doctors being cautious they did a full CT scan and discovered she is still 100% cancer free.  Then they ran several other tests and discovered she had colitis, which is some sort of intestinal virus.  Anyway, our world was turned upside down for a while, but we managed well.  our neighbors stepped in to help with the twins.  What a huge blessing that was for us to have such dependable friends right around our house.  She came home and we've been slowly nursing her back to full health.


Easton came down with a fever and I turned on the batman search light to call for help.  He didn't come, but he sent Ouma, which is way better than batman.  She generously sacrificed her time to be here with Kendra and the twins.  She also did some sewing lessons with Layla.  I am happy for that skill to be transferred down through the generations.


in the middle of the chaos I still had chances to have one on one time with Layla.  She was dressed up in her new coat for our daddy date.  we ended up at the ice cream shop because i'm a sucker.  Her smile is still bright even with all the braces covering up part of it.  Our conversations are starting to shift towards boys in her class who have a crush on her and how she manages herself through the playground drama of 4th grade.


Easton's best friend is Kain and Layla's best friend is Makaya.  Rowan is the little sister Layla never had, but we treat all of this crew as our own. 


As we read our way through the new testament book-by-book in a year, i'm discovering so much that I never saw before.  It's becoming a part of our nightly bed time routine and forming the new habit just as I hoped.  We are two weeks in and still going strong.  only 50 more to go!  Here we have Easton reading, Layla in my lap following along with my Bible, and Kendra's foot, proving she is present and participating in our joyous time together. 


See you soon.



Sunday, January 7, 2018

Staycation holiday this year

Happy New Year family,

Our time during the new year holiday was memorable, but not super adventurous. We had invitations to do things, but declined almost everything.  We spent the days off at home mostly.  We slept in, worked around the house, and spent time together for one of the most peaceful weeks of our lives in the past few years.  Nobody came to stay with us and we didn't go out of town.  I can't remember when was the last Christmas we spent like that.  Easton is still in play mode every chance he gets.  The neighbor boys hang out almost daily.  I asked to take a picture of them and here they are... normal, awkward elementary aged boys who have no idea how to take a group photo. 


With Layla's figure skating instructors taking off the holiday season, Layla had a much needed break from the ice.  The only time she laced up her skates was for a family outing with our neighbors.  The twins are still best friends even though they are growing more and more independent.  They are still as close as ever and learning even deeper what it means to love one another. 


and look who else was on the ice? Kendra!  This was the first time since before cancer that she joined Layla on the ice.  I don't know why having her mommy on the ice with her is such an emotional marker, but Layla hasn't been convinced on Kendra's healing until now.  She's mentioned a few times how Kendra hasn't skated with her so we made sure this moment was captured on camera and widely discussed. 


It's been almost three years since that fateful day of the start of Kendra's cancer journey.  I don't take a single moment for granted.  Seeing the 4 Webbs together never gets old for me.  It's overwhelming joy just being able to experience these moments. 


Our new year's eve was shared with our next door neighbor's Clay and Suzanne.  We had a feast of a dinner, played some cards, set off some fireworks and turned in early to bed.  It was anti-climactic, but super valuable for us to enjoy neighboring together and wake up refreshed the next day.

I took the twins and Max out for a hike one day.  It was cold and cloudy, but we need to get some steps in for the day so I drug them begrudgingly out to the trail.  We found a new geo-cache so that made the trip more exciting.  Kendra didn't come along because she still has a limited amount of energy to exert each day so we went without her to keep the cabin fever away. 


I committed to reading through the New Testament in 2018.  I know there are many programs to read through the whole Bible in a year, but that is overly aggressive for where the twins are at right now so we are sticking with just the new testament.  one chapter per day, five days per week.  That will get us through the whole thing in a year.  It's a lofty goal, but i'm tenacious and consistent enough to pull this off.  Each night before bed time we all grab our Bibles and read out loud each verse.  After one week they are already getting more comfortable with this routine and more interested in Biblical truths we discuss. 


Plenty of comfy pajamas and blankets as we work our way through the book of Mark.  Before now, they didn't know if we are reading our Bible on our phone apps or just swiping our life away on social media.  I'm really excited about their excitement for having a paper-based book to hold and read through on their own.  Devices are awesome and audio books are a daily part of my studious diet, but there is something special about them seeing me setting aside time for reading the Bible.


It was raining and 45 degrees today, which is perfect weather for a hike in the woods, if you live in Seattle.  I asked our neighbor if he and his son wanted to join us and Kain for a hike.  They jumped right on the spontaneous idea and within a few minutes drive we were deep in the lush forest splashing in mud puddles and deep in conversation.  I stopped long enough for us to let out a big yell for no reason other than a celebration of using our outside voices. 


The scenery around this city is straight out of a movie set.  Although Easton would rather be sitting indoors building lego structures or playing video games, i'm continually bringing him into nature to keep him grounded and fit.  Just a little 3-mile hike to get Max muddy enough for a bath.  These are good days...


See you soon!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Holiday 4Webbs Alone

Merry Christmas family,

The biggest news of the month is Easton and Layla getting braces on the same day.  The orthodontist has been preparing them for the past few weeks and now it's finally time to get this party started.  many kids get braces in 2nd or 3rd grade so the twins are a little late to game by some measures.  They were brave troopers as the ortho glued and shoved all manner of metal in their mouth.


The new and improved bed time routine just added about 30 minutes to the already long timeline.  Now they have to floss with the super floss and have their expander clicked over every night.  Only three more years or so and we'll be done with this process that we are already want to be over.


Easton and I finally had the chance to experience crabbing.  To be successful you need: 1) crab pots 2) skills to use the equipment 3) the location of where the crabs are 4) a license for the certain crab at a certain time of year.  We have exactly zero of those, but luckily we met a cub scout dad who has all four.  We met the two of them out at the pier and froze our noses off as we observed.  Only one crab was caught and it was too small so we didn't take any home, but we learned so much and had fun.  Maybe next time we'll go during the summer?  yes, please.


These pics are not in chronological order so i'll have to bounce around a little in the stories to get it all done.  We went to a Christmas light show at a local church with our neighbors.  lots of lights to look at and hot cocoa to drink.  I guess this is our official Christmas photo this year since we weren't around a huge family gathering or much of anyone to take a proper Christmas picture of the 4 webbs.


We went indoors to get cookies at the light show and the twins found some school friends who were there also.  Was fun to see them interact with their friends and watch them be social in a way they don't normally act when we're just hanging out at home as a family.


Easton asked me often when we could go whittle with knives.  I've been putting it off because of the rain and snow and cold, but finally we had a non-rainy day.  We sat on the front steps and shaved some sticks down to nothing with his new knives from Papa.


One of those cold, rainy nights we took the twins to get a banana split.  There is no stopping these two when it comes to frozen desserts.  Kendra wanted them to try a banana split because they never had one before this night.  Still fun to experience a "first" once in a while.


a few days before Christmas we let the twins open one special present each.  We gave them their own Bible.  They were excited and grateful, which made me proud.  They've been reading from my phone regularly for the past many months, but it's time for them to get into their own groove when it comes to Biblical literacy.


Poor Max is a casualty of the cold, rainy days because he sits on the couch looking out over the neighborhood.  We took an early afternoon to go to our favorite dog park where Max ran his legs off.


We stood facing the sun whenever possible to soak up the vitamin D.  They are not old enough to stay at home alone yet so the twins come along with us for every outing.  we are making the most of these moments because there is coming a day very soon where we will have less and less family outings.  For now we are living the dream in many ways.


Here is our fireplace and TV playing Christmas music with a fireplace and tree.  We played Christmas songs for many hours over the month of December.  So many classics to pass along to these two...


Our real tree held up well this year.  Presents were few this year because we agreed that that upcoming Disney trip is our present.  Luckily they have grandparents, friends, and cousins who sent more than enough gifts.  Their Christmas morning wasn't lacking one bit. We spent several days sleeping in, playing with neighbors, and resting.


We had a white Christmas!  On Christmas eve we went  to sleep with light rain, but woke up Christmas morning to a few inches of snow covering the entire city. 


The 4 Webbs have been bundled up in our winter gear for weeks and there isn't any sign of tshirts and shorts in the near future.  If we have to be cold, then at least we are having some outdoor fun and family time.  We went to the kid's school to sled down the hill, thrown snowballs, build a snowman, and meet new neighbors. 


This holiday break involved many hours of reading for the twins.  They are reading the Warrior series about cats.  Layla jumped in late so she is doing her best to catch up with Easton, but they are both plowing through these as fast as I can buy them on Amazon.  Easton is on book 13 and Layla is on book 5.  There are 30 books total, which means i'll be buying the other two sets soon. 


Easton doesn't like swimming at the local pool because it is heated, but the air is the same temperature as the outside.  Layla likes swimming, her mermaid tail, and socializing with friends and strangers.  So that's why i have a picture of Layla swimming like a mermaid with her friend and Easton is nowhere to be found.  I froze my buns off for an hour, but the girls had a blast.


Our neighbors invited us to join them for a winter hike up in the mountains.  This was the day before it snowed in Seattle so we thought it might be our only chance to sled. My favorite part was being with Kendra making memories.  She is adventurous enough to drive our front-wheel-drive van into the mountains with a snow storm warning. 


Everything worked out well and nothing scary happened in the driving experience.  We were so bundled up that we could lay down in the snow and eat some without getting cold.  We finally have the right gear to properly enjoy the cold weather fun.


Layla wanted to go sledding one more time before the snow melted so we walked down the street to a small hill with Max.  She whooshed down the hill and Max chased her.  During my few days off work this year I looked for opportunities to have one-on-one time because these are the moments that mean the most to me. 


Our house on Christmas morning was like a scene from a movie.  It was also really cold so i sent Easton outside with the camera to get a picture.  His photography skills are coming along nicely! even though the calm, snow-covered neighborhood only lasted a couple of days, we made the most of our time together with no regrets. 


See you soon.