Saturday, June 24, 2017

Uncle Wayne

Howdy friends and family,

usually my posts are mainly focused on the twins because that's what the blog is all about, but this one is mostly about me and Uncle Wayne.  As we shift into summer gear, it is becoming obvious how the twins prefer to spend time with friends more than me.  I'm ok with it, but nobody told me it would be a toggle switch moment in time where virtually overnight Easton and Layla became independent.  They are gone when I arrive home from work and I get about an hour with dinner and bed time routine each night. 

Speaking of work, I took a field trip with my team and we went to the western air defense sector where they monitor the nations air traffic.  I also toured the C-17 training facility and had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of one. 

talk about a monster airplane.  these things are massive and powerful.  We met with the colonels and high up ranking officials.  it was a once in a lifetime field trip.   

Other than that I've been grinding through the weeks waiting to take my extended summer vacation starting in mid-July for a couple of weeks of family fun. 

My mom's brother is Uncle Wayne and he visited us for a few days.  He brought his dog, Piper who was gentle in our house and older than dirt.  His wife flew into SeaTac so they can go to Goldendale where they bought land to build a retirement house over the next four years.  I've only seen Wayne a handful of times in the past three decades, but he is family and we connected on so many levels during his stay.  We visited him in Tennessee a few years ago on our US tour.  It was great to catch up.  We were all worn out like dogs from the local adventures. 

We went to Marymoor park to witness the largest off-leash dog park we've ever seen.  Piper loved it. 

The twins were a personal tour guide with all of the excitement we've come to expect from them.  I'm proud no one fell in the river and the dogs were well behaved.  

It's rare for the 4 Webbs to get a picture of all of us because I'm the camera man of the crew, but with Wayne there he snapped a picture of us giving a big family hug.  It's very odd for me to imagine wearing a stocking cap and jacket in June, but here I am trying to stay warm.  

There were about a hundred dogs running around the property, but somehow we were able to capture a pic like this where it looks like it's just us alone.  everyone needed a minute to rest from our hike through the park so we sat here and commented on the interesting dogs that walked by.  

One of the outings was to the Museum of Pop Culture in downtown Seattle.  Wayne likes sci-fi and fantasy so we took a trip to the best museum I've seen in many years.  They have an amazing collection of movie props and costumes.  This is THE costume from the original Tron movie.  There is a significance to this movie between Wayne and I that I haven't thought about for years.  When i was seven years old I went with my mom and uncle wayne and some other people to go see Tron.  towards the end of the movie I was frightened and asked my mom if I could leave the theater.  Wayne kindly agreed to wait outside in the lobby with me until the movie was over.  

There is a section of the museum dedicated to gaming, but we ran out of time to go see it.  We couldn't pass up the chance to take a picture in super Mario bros. world though.  Wayne hasn't been around kids... ever...  but he's really great with them and appreciated the time with the 4 Webbs.  

I, on the other hand, am used to the noise and energy and involvement.  Being silly with them is something that will never change.

When the kids went to school I took Wayne and our dogs to useless bay on Whidbey island.  We walked a mile on the beach just talking and watching the dogs play.  

Piper is a fetching kind of dog and a water dog.  this is her first time in the ocean and it was awesome to see such an old dog forget she's old and go have fun even though it probably hurts her aged hips.  

Max is not a water dog or a fetching dog, but today he learned to be!  I found his own stick to throw and after watching Piper do it a few times, he jumped right in and returned he stick to me.  

Much of our time was spent talking about the things of God, but he was kind enough to help me install the ceiling fan in our master bedroom.  Summer is here and mama is hot!  Kendra was very grateful for Wayne's home improvement know-how and I am glad to have a cooler wife as the days heat up without AC in our house...

See you soon!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Family Camp and Neighbors

Howdy family,

Kendra made chocolate chip cookies for Daryl, our reclusive neighbor.  He'll be a tough nut to crack, but we are patient.  We stopped by his house to say hello and be kind.  Come to find out, he is a diabetic.  nothing awkward about that though!  just getting to know everyone one conversation at a time.  so we took the cookies home and ate them. 

Kendra took some treats down to our other neighbor who is suffering from back pain and prayed for her while she was there.  We are finding tangible ways to bless people and it's been a great transition for us to care so much for those around us in daily life.  I consider our latest revelation to be the most real example of "love god and love others" that I've ever seen. 

We invited another family in our neighborhood over for dinner a few weeks ago.  The husband and I connected on many levels.  mountain biking is one of them.  He's much more in-shape than I am, but we had an excellent ride even in the pouring rain. 

We just survived the biggest campout the 4 Webbs have ever joined.  Family camp for Easton's cub scouts turned out to be a great weekend even with tons of mosquitos and uncomfortable beds.  It was a sacrifice for Kendra, but we made some memories that will last a lifetime.   Max went with us to Jim Creek Navel Recreation area. 

120 other campers lined the massive field where we played and cooked and popped up tents.  I didn't get  a single picture of the 4 Webbs together because there were not many moments where we were all in the same place sitting still.  I did catch this one of Kendra and I with the playground in the back. 

Easton and Layla were very brave and adventurous.  The climbing tower and high swing were great challenges for them to conquer.  The swing was the most memorable, fun thing they both experienced the whole weekend.  They connected to the rope and then were pulled up in the air by a pulley.  then they let go of the tether and swung free. 

The massive structure behind them in this picture is where they climbed with a safety rope. 

Easton made it to the top.  He paused here on the middle platform to hear us cheer him on.  He was extremely proud of himself for getting to the top and we were impressed with his can-do attitude. 

Layla made it to the middle platform and climbed very quickly.  When she made it there, she decided that was enough and she repelled back down.  She is so competitive that she cried for a bit since Easton made it to the top, but she didn't.  we tried to console her and make sure she knows how proud we are of her, but it took a little while for her to be back to her normal sunshine self. 

Easton and I played chess on the life-sized board.  I taught him the game again and he gladly took my chess pieces.  I ended up winning, but he put up a good fight considering he is still learning what moves where. 

On our way back to camp from the chess match, Easton saw a deer.  We snuck up on it slowly to see how close we could get.  when he was within a few feet, Easton lunged towards the deer and chased it off.  I'm not sure what he would have done if he caught it, but we had some good laughs about this friendly deer afterwards. 

One of the busiest areas of the campground is this massive stump.  they used it as a castle of sorts for their games of clan wars.  With the big man-made playground only a few feet away, it was clear that mother nature has the coolest things. 

I took a panoramic shot from our tent to show a few of the tents off in the distance and the play area.  Parents spent much of the weekend relaxing her in chairs as the kids just played. 

Kendra found a soccer ball abandoned on the playground.  She started dribbling and another kid came by to play.  She kicked the ball back and forth, showing off her fancy footwork for the other kids who were watching.  I took a mental snapshot to freeze-frame the moment.  There are days when I can't believe how amazing Kendra's recovery is and how fortunate we are to have our family be so functional. 

The campout wore Max down to nothing.  He was totally wiped out after two days of running full speed ahead. 

The second night was late.  around 9:30pm the sun was just going down so they broke out the smores.  After that, we ate blue frosted cupcakes.  Bed time was shortly afterwards, but 10:30pm is much too late for our super consistent 8:00pm-bedtime crew.  it was worth the grumpy moments though. 

on another day, I worked from home and took a long lunch to go for a walk with Kendra and Max.  These simple pleasures are the ones I appreciate the most.  Other people think this is no big deal, but it is huge considering how far Kendra has come from being bed-ridden with the broken vertebrae.  I'm never going to take this for granted.

or this...  At Easton and Layla's family dance party, there were two types of parents:  those on the dance floor and those surrounding the dance floor as their kids danced the night away.  We were the dancer parents.  Kendra has no insecurity or concern for other people's opinions. it shows up boldly in these moments where she cuts loose and has a great time being herself. 

Easton and Layla are still figuring out who they really are.  Part of that discovery is trying new things to find out what each one is passionate about.  Kendra took Layla to her first cheerleading informational meeting as a preparation for the upcoming school season.  Layla is excited to try it out, but her passion for figure skating is still fully in bloom.  You never know how a summer can change people, but we are lining up our next school year really well already. 

see you soon!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Everything Outside

Howdy family,

welcome to kind-of summer time. it's at least sunny and we have months of outdoor adventures ahead.  On one of my work from home days we took a bike ride to a local lunch spot.  It's been many months since we did something like this.  It was one of those moments we hoped for and dreamed about for so long.  The weirdest thing about not being able to do these simple things with Kendra is the crazy amount of enjoyment I get from them now. 

And then, just like that I was in Dublin, Ireland.  My boss walked into my office and said, "you're going to Ireland in a few weeks" and then, here I am.  I brought home a tin whistle, an Ireland shirt for each of the twins because I was given specific instruction not to come home empty handed. 

Once I arrived back home we spent the Memorial day weekend hanging out with neighbors who are fast becoming friends.  If Kendra gets to know Suzanne half as well as the twins are getting to know their kids, then we'll have a fun summer. 

One of our couple friends bailed on coming over to our house for dinner one night so we asked if our neighbors wanted to join us.  we ended up hanging in their backyard afterwards eating smores. 

My new employee and his family joined us for weekend fun at the lake.  We went to Vasa Park where the beaches were clean and the lifeguards were plenty.  These water slides were only good for a few trips for Easton and Layla because they aren't comfortable swimming deep in lake water.  They are used to clear pool water and somewhat clear ocean water. 

The beach was toasty, the sand castles were plenty, and rocks were pretty enough for Layla to take a handful home and add to our rock jar.  Her favorite part of the beach was collecting pretty things.  Easton's favorite part is building, then knocking over sand castles. 

Our neighbors on either side of us took a three-family trip to swamp creek.  not even kidding.  that's what it's called.  We rolled up to the parking lot and I thought it was a joke, but then we walked down the path where it opened up to this amazingly clear creek and pleasant creek bank spot. 

My neighbor Clay built a little minnow holding tank area and we filled it up with lots of hand-caught minnows.

We brought plenty of shade to keep the pesky sun from cooking our fragile Seattle skin.  The ladies had plenty of hang out time as the kids explored and played in the water.  This was the most relaxing day of the year so far for us. 

This is my favorite picture lately because there is so much symbolism embedded in it.  We are hand in hand physically and spiritually.  We are more "one" now than at any point in our marriage.  I'm shirtless because it's hot and there is no symbolism at all.  just an observation.  Anyway, this leisurely walk through the creek is how this last year has felt.  It's not like floating in a massive river or struggling to swim up a river.  just a stroll in the sun even when the sun is not shining. 

After our trip to the creek we had dinner at our house to celebrate Kendra's birthday.  These are the adults who are our neighbors on both sides.  The kids were running around the house like headless chickens and nobody cared.  I gave Kendra her birthday gift at dinner.  I handed her an envelope with the cash to pay for our entire Disneyland trip and cruise in Florida this coming February.  I've been saving up for over two years, but didn't set up much fanfare around the presentation so it wasn't epic.  even so, the vacation will be and that's the important part. 

Here are some of the neighborhood kids who hang out at our house regularly.  I see much less of Easton and Layla than I'm used to because they are having a blast playing with friends every day after school.  They are looking forward to summer, but they have no idea how great it's going to be.

Easton asked me to buy him a fidget spinner.  I gladly did and then gave it to him as he earned it.  I said he needs to fidget on all of the windows in the house with a cleaning cloth and some window spray.  It's amazing what they're motivated to do when earnings are on the line.  I'm hoping they will do more things for one another out of love instead of for rewards, but it's a work in progress at nine years old.

See you soon!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Man Camping

Howdy family,

Easton and I had the most excellent camping trip weekend.  This is what we "boy time" at the extreme end because it was just the three of us boys being away together alone.  We camped at Larrabee State Park where the campsite was right on the ocean.  Well, it was in the "sound".  According to locals, the ocean is different than the Puget Sound.  Anyway, this is the view we had a few hundred yards away from our site.

A campfire made it feel authentic.  I got to teach him how to build a proper fire and he'll be amazed by flames for the rest of his life, like I am.  This attempt failed because the wood was too wet, but we were both too tired and ready for bed to bother anymore.

Our campsite was awesome and disastrous.  We were nestled between a main road where cars and motorcycles roared by and a railroad track where the train went by hourly...  all. night. long.  That's the rough part.  The good aspect was the mostly-flat, dry ground and large space for us to spread out our stuff.  I bought a new tent because our old was wore out.  This one is canvas and will probably outlast me in years.

We went to bed fairly early and after a sleepless, cold night I woke up at 5:30am to find this. 

Easton staring at me waiting for me to move a muscle.  I did and he immediately jumped into a sales pitch about how great it would be to see the sunrise over the ocean.  So we did!  Max was bouncing off the walls, I mean bridges.  He was running back and forth so fast that he looks like a blur. We walked through some green forest scenery that looked like the set of a movie. 

down to the ocean where we were the only people in the entire bay.  Easton used his pocket knife to stab tiny crabs that would crawl out when rocks were turned over.  Max ran free all over the beach and I followed wherever they wanted to go. 

I bought some wood because it's illegal to cut anything down out here.  Easton learned how to chop with a hatchet so that we could get the fire started. 

This time it really worked well.  I was impressed with Easton's ability to kick back and relax.  He's an active kind of kid, which is really awesome.  However, it was pleasant to simply "be" without doing anything at all.  We had several thoughtful conversations where I loved every minute.  I want so badly for the twins to be open and honest with us about everything in life, including the good, bad, and the ugly.  That's not always the case from my own personal experience and stories from other kids and adults.  The thing I noticed most about this moment in the picture was how grown up he looks.  it's a little bit of a shock when I realized the little toddler is almost a "pre-teen". 

No campout is complete without eating some fire roasted meat products.  Easton's nick name is "hot dog" so this moment had several jokes and laughs. 

We walked to the beach several times during our two-day trip.  One time was to explore a cave.  Easton and I climbed up this make-shift ladder and found a cave.  We came back with flashlights and muddy clothes so we could check it out. 

We squeezed our way into the muddy opening.  Easton's responses of amazement were such a joy.  I am proud of his adventurous spirit and curious nature.

whittling is an essential skill and very enjoyable in the right setting.  Easton felt so empowered to keep his pocket knife with him during the entire trip.  I used my grandpa's knife that was well-worn and sharp as a razor. 

Nobody in the entire campsite had more fun than Max.  He had the time of his life because the wide open spaces and endless wildlife kept him entertained the whole time. 

There wasn't much of a museum or history experience here other than the plaque declaring this as the oldest state park in the state of Washington. 

When we arrived home, Max poured out of his seat and onto the driveway pavement.  He didn't move a muscle as we unloaded the smelly, dirty camping mess.  We were all dog tired, including the dog.

While the boys were freezing our booty off in the woods, Layla had a girl's weekend with Kendra and Alaysha.  Layla's figure skating organization took over 200 skaters to the stars on ice show in Seattle.  Alaysha was kind enough to take Layla and they had an awesome time.  Their early arrival resulted in Layla getting a picture with Gracie Gold who was an Olympic medalist in the 2014 events.  Layla was star struck, but had enough courage to talk to her and ask for a picture. 

Each weekend seems to bring its own unique adventures even more so here in Seattle.  We are ramping up for summer fun by swapping out our scarfs and hats for shorts and flip-flops.  summer is coming...

See you soon!