Friday, September 15, 2017

Sports, School, and Ouma

Greeting fam,

Here's a huge dump to play catch up from the last few weeks.  Summer is still going on according to the weather and calendar here in Seattle.  We set the record for the most consecutive days of sun and highest number of days above 72 degrees.  Now those are records I want to be a part of.  The only thing that doesn't feel like summer is the back to school days.

Luckily the sun is still staying light long enough for neighbors to play.  These are three neighbor boys and my employee's son who came to visit.  We sent them off to play in the neighborhood park and they created some serious Nerf gun wars.  Easton is coming around with his happy heart and really loving the friendships.  Kendra and I are so relieved to see his maturity taking leaps forward while at the same time being a boy who knows how and when to be silly.

On a weekend morning I found the twins watching some tv in the den.  I brought Max with me and sat down right in between them.  Their natural instinct was to cuddle up with me closely and get a group hug.  This is one of the ways I gauge my connection with them.  If they were indifferent or push me away then I would have recognized this as a sign of "work required".  I'm glad to give and receive affection with them so freely.

Ouma came for a week long visit and we loved every minute of her presence.  We went for a walk in the downtown park and discovered the local museum houses were open for tours.  The twins sat at old timey school desks with slate boards and chalk.  They were amazed at how primitive the equipment was back then.

This is the only picture I have of Ouma with the twins.  That is maybe my only let down of the whole trip.  We had a few adventures, but did our best to allow Ouma to rest and Kendra to spend quality time with her.  Luckily, shipping the kids off to school each day gave several hours of kid-free, me-free time together.

This picture was taken eight years ago.

This picture was taken last week.  Easton was cool enough to do a photo recreation just for fun.  I showed him the picture above and said, "we could recreate this...  I wonder where that flower is?"  He said, "it's on my bed!"  I was shocked.  nobody knows why we've kept the stuffed flower, but there is is.  The comforter we had on our bed back then is now the one we keep on the guest bed so we crawled right up on it and captured this gem.

sunsets are usually uninspiring here in Seattle.  However, one evening I took Max out to run a few miles and noticed the sunset was awesomely scenic.  My crumby iPhone camera didn't do it justice, but you get an idea of it.

We took Ouma to Silver Lake to meet Christy and Evelyn on a sunny afternoon.  There were a few days of heat that made our house an oven so we were happy to get out and cool down.  The thing we will remember about this lake is jumping off the dock and dodging duck poo as we walked through the sand.  super busy beach, but we were content to just float around in on our rafts and tubes.

Layla has been overwhelmed with trying to juggle cheerleading and figure skating.  It was a brief few weeks of daily practice for starting cheer and frequent practice on the ice to prepare for her performance.  As you can see by her smile, she loves being on the ice and her coach brings out the best in her.

Easton and Layla are best friends... still.  Even though they bug the crap out of each other and there are still moments of annoyance, kicking and tattling, they still care for each other deeply.  Easton took time to let Layla shoot his helicopter rocket thing.   He showed her how to do it by example, then walked her through it step-by-step.  It got stuck in the tree and I came to the rescue with my long handle something from the garage.  At least I'm still feeling useful!

Easton created a miniature paper fortune teller.  There isn't a fortune inside, but that's what they are known for.  Anyway, he did it to prove his origami skills.  we were impressed!  He's getting to the age where he's starting to believe in himself enough to try new things and figure it out.  before recently I was the catalyst to encourage him and give him ideas and point him in the right direction, but now he doesn't even need that.  Cub scouts started again and he's happy to be a Weblo!

Along with cub scouts, Easton is taking an interest in skateboarding.  I have no idea who gave us a skateboard or when, but somewhere along the way he discovered it sitting in our garage.  He asked me to help him ride it so I gladly gave my attention to him.  First, I explained some basic concepts and elements of the board.  Then, I showed him by skating on the street to demonstrate.  Next, I told him what to do and pulled him slowly on the street while he held my hand.  I noticed the skateboard didn't roll very well.  It was so bad that it wouldn't even roll down hill on its own without some manual pushing.

I took him to Zumies to buy some new wheels and bearings.   He hopped right on the board and has been riding every day since then.  I admire his willingness to try something new and figure it out!

Layla did her own skating at the figure skating competition performance.  We invited our neighbors and I was pleasantly surprised by the turn out.  so many great supporters for her.  I took other pics on my big camera, but haven't uploaded them to the my computer yet so i'll save that for next blog.

Alaysha is leaving for Los Angeles in one week.  We are sad to see her move out of our house after living with us for the past 18 months, but we are happy to send her off to pursue her dreams in the big city.  Layla requested a special Alaysha day and they had a great time laughing and shopping like sisters.  We will miss her very much!

As for Kendra, she is becoming the connector of our neighborhood.  She is developing some deep relationships with several ladies within walking distance of our house.  One night she had a little get together at our house before they went out dancing.  It's a little dark, but I loved seeing this scene of Kendra and several ladies interacting with so much aliveness.  The night out was a huge success.  I'm optimistic for Kendra to build a great group of friends around her here to make up a little bit for the loss she experienced in moving from Phoenix to here.

See you soon!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cheerleader and cub scout

Greetings friends,

we have a cheerleader on our hands at the Webb house.  Layla wanted to try it out to see if she is interested.  The answer from Layla and her instructors is a resounding "yes".  Layla attended a week-long camp in Arizona and a 3-day camp a few months ago.  That was her only experience with cheerleading before jumping into the real deal.  She's been at practice every weekday for the past two weeks.  That means Kendra and I have been playing taxi.  This momentous picture is one i'll have etched into my memory forever.  Not because anything significant occurred, but because I see my lovely Layla being passionate about cheer and Kendra smiling brightly with her hair growing out long.  These simple flashes of normal life are the ones I believed so deeply for when Kendra was bed ridden. 

Layla is so good at cheer that she was immediately placed into the big girl's league of older cheer leaders as a "flyer", which means she is the one that gets tossed around up in the air.  God help us be trusting in you and not anxious about anything.

Layla's first performance was a half-time show for a scrimmage game between junior teams.  She was understandably nervous, but came out onto the field shining like the star we know she is. 

There is one dark spot in the sun-shiny summer for Layla.  Her friend from down the street is probably moving out of state soon.  Layla came home one evening acting crazy and stressed. Kendra paused our whirlwind of crazy to get to the bottom of Layla's reactions.  turns out her friend told Layla about their potential move and that made Layla sad because Makaya is her best friend.  We will miss them very much, but I am glad for Layla to develop deep friendships with other kids too. 

Speaking of dark spots... about that eclipse?!?!  Uncle Wayne visited a few days at our house since he is spending much of his time at their property in southern Washington.  He stayed an extra day just to share in the eclipse experience.  In Seattle we had about 95% obscuration where 100% is "totality" where it goes dark.  The darkest moments made the world around us look like dusk or sunset, but it was still a very bright, sunny day.  

We had four pair of $3 eclipse glasses we used in hopes that our eyeballs wouldn't be burned out.  The 4 Webbs + Wayne had such a memorable time watching this once in a lifetime event.

The murder of crows flocking over Bothell is legendary.  Every day more and more crows fly over at dusk, peaking sometime in the late fall when about 10,000 will fly over our house.  It's fun to just sit on the porch and watch them fly over in a never ending stream of "caw".

The 4 Webbs went to the police station.  Thankfully, the purpose was to get passports for the kids.  We are in full preparation mode for the Disney cruise coming up in 5 months.  It is possible to just use their birth certificates, but we wanted to be official with their passports so we can travel internationally over the next few years.

Easton moved up to be a Weblo in cub scouts.  We read through the achievements he must tackle during the next 9 months.  One of those is to change the battery in a smoke detector.  Lucky for him, one of ours started beeping during the day so I told him to change the battery and figure out what it takes to do it from start to finish.  He proudly completed the task and I gave him a high-five after he hopped off the ladder.

Ace is a family friend who is already in boy scouts.  He is a few years older than Easton so I take every opportunity for them to hang out together.  It's great for Easton to have that in common with a good influence.  We went for a long walk with Max through the neighborhood.  We ate an apple and handfuls of blackberries fresh of the tree and vines because everything is in season right now. Winter is fast approaching and the sun is going down earlier every day, but for now this is summer all the way through the start of school.

See you soon!

Friday, August 25, 2017

15 years together

Hello family,

Kendra and I hit the big milestone of 15 years of marriage.  I probably should have made it a bigger celebration, but that's not how things worked out. The week before our official day, we went to a near-by island for an overnight stay.  Was great to be alone and sleep in for a change without a single peep coming from the creaky upstairs bedrooms.

So on the day of our anniversary we took a family trip up to Mukilteo.  We soaked in the sun, smelled the fresh ocean air, and had a semi-fancy dinner.  We are spending our disposable income on medical bills and finalizing the extra perks for our Disney trip in February.  We posed for this next picture and asked some stranger on the beach to take our picture.  Turned out as good as I expected.

Kendra rested on a bench as the twins scampered around the boulders on the water's edge.  Easton took a break to get some cuddle time in (such a momma's boy).  The lighthouse behind them is the historic one we toured when we first arrived in Seattle a year ago.

This picture blows my mind.  Not the quality of the photo, but how Easton looks like a young man.  I just stared for several seconds and blinked to see if my eyes were just not focusing right.  sure enough... he's growing up quickly.

Layla has always looked much older than she is, but seeing her natural beauty in such a natural setting is confirmation that I am definitely going to be in trouble as an over protective dad when boys start swarming her.  We had a conversation tonight in the car on the way to cheer leading practice that caught me off guard.  She asked if she is going to be pretty when she gets into her teenage years.  I quickly and confidently reassured her that yes, she absolutely will be beautiful when she grows up.  I don't want her thinking that beauty is all that matters though so I continued in the same sentence telling her all of the other things about her that are true.  I said something like, "yes you will be more beautiful every year that goes by, but you'll also be stronger, smarter, funnier, friendlier, and many other ways you'll grow".

This other picture is the match to Easton's individual pic above because of the ferry.  Timing is everything!

These two are never-ending barrels of joy.  Easton annoys Layla.  Layla manages Easton.  Those two things are the biggest problems we deal with every day, but they are both a work in progress.  I am still holding tightly to the wisdom so many people have given us that perseverance and consistency will pay off.   

Our dinner at Arnie's seafood was the highlight of the trip with excellent views and delicious sea creatures.  There is a song called "cake by the ocean" we sing around our house.  Every time it plays I say how much I want to eat cake by the ocean.  Mission accomplished!  our anniversary dessert fulfills the long time dream of mine.

I attempted to take a few selfies with the sunset.  Our goofy looks and silly personalities were captured pretty well in this one.  I'm perfectly happy calling this our official 15 year anniversary picture because it represents us much better than the formal, cheesy smile pictures we normally take.

Happy anniversary to us and many more to come!  See you soon.

Monday, August 14, 2017

One on one time

Howdy family,

My summer vacation days are well utilized and well earned.  Before I get into the adventures, I'll do a product endorsement, which I rarely include in the blog.  I bought Easton and Layla matching Garmin VivoFit Jr fitness watches.  They keep track of their steps, chart sleeping cycles with data, and (most importantly) provide an application on my phone that tracks their chores and rewards.  They get virtual coins for brushing teeth, taking out the trash, and doing laundry.  Then they cash in the coins for real things like nerf guns, movie nights, and money.  We had them over a month and they are working out very well to motivate the kids.  I couldn't be more pleased with the durability and usability.

One on one with Easton:

The biggest adventure of the last few weeks was resident camp with Easton for cub scouts.  We were at Camp Edward, an hour away from our house, deep in the woods.  The scenery behind us in this next picture shows the massive fort and clubhouse area.

Easton and I left Kendra and Layla at home for 3 full days of one on one time.  We were actively engaged with each other from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm every day.  He walked more than 25,000 steps on one of the days.  We shot guns, bow and arrow, and learned how to tie knots and navigate using a compass.  just to mention a few.

We played frisbee and dozens of games during the limited open time slots.

I was proud to watch him, along with all the other dads, as each boy followed instructions, respected authority, and managed himself in various scenarios.  Some did better than others.  Easton was a role model.

My favorite picture from the weekend is this one where he is cleaning the toilet.  Each scout had bathroom duty once during the trip.  Easton gladly jumped in with rubber gloves and tools to scrub the bathroom clean.  He wasn't supper excited about it, but he did this with a happy heart and very few grumbles.

The theme this year at camp was around pirates.  One of the crafts was to make a pirate ship.  They had two rain gutters lined up and filled with water to race each other by blowing into the sails as the boats floated.  His boat floated well and made it to the other end.

We had many silly moments where boys were boys.  He grabbed two of the free pirate patches and placed both of them over his eyes.  He kept trying to convince me that he could see just fine as we stumbled down the path.

one of the things i learned about Easton is how much he likes fire, almost as much as i did at his age.  He was right in the middle of the fire building process and excited for the fire to be lit.

He sat around mesmerized by the flames until the smores came out.  nothing can keep a kids attention when burning marshmallows is an option.

Easton was a part of a flag ceremony for the first time.  every morning and every evening we raised and lowered the American flag over our campground.  it is a very somber, meaningful event and an honor to be a part of it.  I was proud of the way he respected the flag in carrying, saluting, and respecting the flag.

Among the memorable things about resident camp, none is more deeply ingrained in Easton's brain than the pocket knife cuts.  I bought a new $10 knife at the campground and then promptly cut my finger trying to show him what not to do.  Then an hour later I came out of the bathroom and noticed Easton jogging past me with blood dripping all down his hand.  He was genuinely freaked out, but I stayed calm.  We washed his hand off in the sink and discovered it was just a slice on the edge of his finger.  Nothing a band-aid couldn't fix!  I call this a winning picture because the lesson was learned (for both of us) without a trip to the hospital.

One on one with Kendra:

Our 15th wedding anniversary happened last week without much fanfare.  Since we spent so much towards our Disneyland trip and cruise coming up in February, neither of us wanted to splurge for this occasion.  Instead, we left the kids and took an overnight trip to a local island.  We watched a comedy show and stayed in the hotel.  It was a nice break from the day to day kids routine.  We haven't been spending much time alone lately, but it's just one of those short seasons that I can't wait to be over.

I looked back through our last few weeks of pictures to find a more official anniversary picture, but there aren't any.  I had to go back to our trip to Judy's beach to find a good quality picture.  This one does a good job of summing up our life in Seattle this summer.  We survived the record rain fall amount in the winter and reveled in the record number of consecutive days without rain all summer (55 days).  what a year it has been !

One on one with Layla:

I've been with Easton a couple of times this summer where we have multiple days/nights together.  I wanted to take a weekend trip with Layla to go stay at a castle somewhere in the Seattle area, but that didn't pan out so i did the next best thing.  We took an entire Saturday for just the two of us.  We started out by going for a tandem mountain bike ride in Duthie park.  We tackled some intermediate trails.  I was very proud of her for pedaling so strong and trusting me on the difficult parts.

Our setup with the trail-a-bike is an attention getter because it is rare.  She gladly waves and greets those who comment and stare.  Layla has her own two-wheeled bike, but the advantage of riding tandem is that she gets to experience more intense trails.

After the ride we went to downtown Seattle for a visit to the aquarium.  Her favorite part was touching the slimy sea cucumbers and star fish in the petting tanks.  We saw otters and jelly fish and a thousand other sea creatures.  She was always out front, pacing me through the exhibits, but her level of excitement was contagious.

After the aquarium, we walked around the Pike Place market and ate at the Pike Brewing Company.  It's a fairly fancy place to dine so I had the correct princess daughter, but the incorrect mountain biking outfits for such a place.  We stumbled across the gum wall by accident.  It was disgusting, but interesting at the same time.   Even so, I'd put this day trip in the top 5 daddy/daughter outings ever for us.  I'm working on a plan for next summer to take a trip with just the two of us some place exciting for a few days.

The 4 Webbs have also shared time together being locals in Seattle.  We picked fresh blackberries from the extraordinary amount of wild bushes lining every wall and pathway in the city.

We also brought our neighbors with us to share in the picking and eating.  Kendra baked a homemade black berry cobbler and shared with our friends.  The season lasts a few weeks so we'll take another trip or two out to gather and freeze these free delights.

See you soon!