Wednesday, September 30, 2009

zoo and flight home

Finally I have a chance to collect my thoughts on our zoo trip and flight home...

Here is my summary picture for the zoo trip:

Easton is sucking his thumb and yes, he did "pet" the goat with both hands prior to this picture (ick). Oh well, what is a parent to do? It's not like we can take his thumb away!

Giraffe's are funny creatures. The most difficult part is explaining a giraffe to a child. They don't make any noises (that I know of) so when we run through our list of animals with the twins we have to improvise.

What's a monkey sound like? "Oooooh oh, ah ahhhhh"
What's a tiger sound like? "grrrrrrrr"
What's a giraffe sound like? ... uh. I mean what does a giraffe look like?

That's where Kendra has Easton and Layla stretch their neck out and stroke it while saying, "long neck".

So when we approached the giraffes Easton and Layla immediately said, "long neck" and did the motion on their neck. My sister was smart enough to buy giraffe food from the ticket lady as we entered the park. She's such a smart planner... I was surprised because I didn't know what giraffes eat or that they had special food. Anyway, we walked up to this platform overlooking the giraffe area and they came right up to us!

Easton and Layla were equally brave and intrigued by their gigantic heads and long, black tongues.

Nana was such a trooper to march through the zoo with us and hold up kids to interact with animals. Here is Daphne getting a close encounter with long, black tongue.

I was paranoid about the giraffe biting their hands, but he was very gentle. Until we ran out of food, that is... Then the giraffe started darting his head towards a little too aggressively so we promptly ended the giraffe petting portion of the tour.

Layla did a great imitation of the flamingo you can see in the background.

There were times when animals were visible only for humans over 3 feet tall so I did my best to lift them up as much as possible to keep them engaged.

And Papa had as much fun watching his grandkids soak in the sights as the grandkids did.

We went to the zoo during the middle of a gorgeous, partly cloudy school day. My sister home schools her three kids so they were able to join us for adventures all week long.

There is a big difference from looking at an elephant in a story book and standing 10 feet away from the real ones as they devour boxes of bananas.

I expect the "Three Billy Goats Gruff" book will be much more meaningful to Layla after having such interactive experiences like this. That's all from the zoo chronicles. Even though zoos are usually fairly equal (you've seen one tiger you've seen them all), but the animals on this trip were all actively playing and extremely close up where the kids could all experience the diversity of God's creation. Being there with my family made it extra special.

Here are two other pictures from our evening at my sister's house which I neglected to post. My sister is a great photographer and I gladly give her credit for these two. Do I really have THAT much grey hair? I guess pictures never lie, huh...

Kendra had an excellent time filling her role as "aunt" although now she feels like she's missing out after tasting what being an aunt is all about.

And now for my Way Back Whensday pictures... Here is me at age 2.

Sorry for the poor quality of the picture, but it is over 30 years old and my scanner stinks. And here is another picture of me at age 4. Yeah, I am Superman!

I see more and more resemblance between Easton and myself as he grows, but I hope he doesn't end up with the same goofy haircut as I had.

As for the WFMW (Works For Me Wednesday), I'll let you in what to do (and not to do) for flying on an airplane with twins. We took much of my sister's advice literally word-for-word and we succeeded for the most part. Our flight left at 9:30 PM and arrived back in Phoenix at 10:30 PM, which is really 12:30 AM according to central time. This caused some serious issues for us because Easton and Layla are in bed promptly at 7:00 PM every single night.

1. Lollipops DO work, but (holy cow) they are sooooo messy. Use at your own risk. TicTacs are equally useful and equally messy, as we found out the hard way.

2. NEITHER of our babies slept a single wink during the flight. Even after giving them children's Benadryl, wearing them out with activities all day, and staying up until 12:30 in the stinkin' morning, they were absolutely wired! Why, then, does Easton look like he just polished off a double shot of espresso and I look like a half-dead zombie?

Makes no sense whatsoever, but that's the way things worked out.

3. Thank GOD for the portable DVD player. I would gladly pay three times the retail price of a DVD player to entertain our kids with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse inflight. With almost an hour left in the flight Kendra and I noticed the "low battery" signal flashing on the DVD player. I almost broke down crying at the thought of dealing with our cranky-pants kids without that thing. Luckily the batteries held out long enough for the flight attendant to announce the descent. Layla's lollipop served its purpose of keeping her ears popping and not hurting. However, she gnawed on the thing so much that the dum-dum paper "stick" gave out before she finished the lollipop.

We had to throw away the shredded bits and depend on reading books again for the tenth time so they would stay still long enough to land. Another thing that went right for us is that even though it was an almost full flight, the lady next to us gladly moved to another seat on the plane, which gave us the full three seat row to store our stuff and give them a place to sit. I highly recommend kindly asking the person to go find another seat, if you have the guts to do it. That person will thank you and the extra space will be a blessing for you.

What will we do next time we fly since the twins will not be "lap children" (under 2 years old)? They will have their own purchased seat... Guess we'll find out how that works, but we don't plan to fly again for many, many months.

In closing, the trip to Missouri was wildly successful by any measure. The adventures were plenty and the quality time with my family was priceless. Even though Easton and Layla won't remember this trip as they get older, we have many pictures to show them of the awesome time spent with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Now we are settling back into our routine and look forward to some uneventful days ahead this week (as if that's even possible).

See you soon!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

vacation recap

Greetings friends and family,

During our vacation time in Missouri I had several occasions to listen to the radio. As I regressed back to my days growing up in the mid-west it was only natural for me to find country music stations. The radio options were country, spanish, or southern gospel, so it's not like I had much of a choice!

The country station seemed to play a looping hour of the same music over an over again. I heard these two specific songs multiple times per day: Small Town USA by Justin Moore and Jason Aldean's "Big Green Tractor". There is the link to the song (with lyrics) on YouTube and here is the chorus that led to the next picture.

climb up in my lap and drive if you want to
girl you know you got me to hold on to
we can go to town or baby if you'd rather
I'll take you for a ride on my big green tractor

We can go slow or make it go faster,
Down through the woods and out to the pasture,
As long as I'm with you it really don't matter

The lyrics are exactly divinely inspired, but they certainly fit in well with the experience! I mean, what woman would rather get all dressed up and go to town instead of ride on a dusty tractor? sheesh...

Here are some of the other highlights of the trip... We took the twins outside every single day for activities (to wear them out) and interactions with cousins, but some of the most enjoyable times were just hanging around my parent's house. Nana pulled Easton around as he clutched the Elmo toy and a random car.

Unfortunately Layla's trip around the kitchen in the wagon wasn't as successful because she tipped over backwards and bonked her head. She has a tendency to always be "in motion" and that didn't work out so well for her in this instance.

The twins loved the secret hide out spot in Nana and Papa's house. The island in their kitchen contains flashlights, slippers, and toys for curious grandchildren. They were both more than happy to close the doors while they sat inside with their flashlights as they giggled.

And in the backyard is a full swingset! Easton and Layla regularly asked to go outside and swing. Layla would point to the back door and say, "wing? wing?" This next picture shows Nana pushing Easton in the car swing. Both of them wearing a red shirt and a smile.

Then when we spent the evening at my sister's house Layla noticed they also have a swingset. So guess what we did? More "wing"!

I wonder where she gets her love of swinging from??? It's a complete mystery to me...

My sister's kids also have a clubhouse attached to the swingset. Cousin Silas was more than happy to show them around their hideout.

Easton and Layla thought the most interesting thing about the clubhouse was the door, which they went in and out of repeatedly.

We successfully navigated the professional photo shoot at my parent's house for our entire family. Afterwards the kids were all worn out from smiling and standing still. We had to resort to what we KNOW works... Mickey Mouse clubhouse video on the DVD player and lollipops. Here we have all of the grandkids on one couch: Lexi, Eli, Easton, Daphne, Silas, and Layla.

One afternoon we fulfilled my other required eating stop besides Andy's frozen custard: Ott's Pasta. Kendra obliged by trekking across town for take-out pasta and then to the park for a picnic lunch.

The only thing Easton and Layla ate was the breadstick so I can't claim complete victory for the adventure. However, the ducks in the pond made up for the lackluster meal. The twins flung chunks of moldy rolls out for the ducks to nibble. Luckily they ate enough bread they weren't interested in eating the old rolls.

I still need to post the pictures and adventures from the trip to the zoo and the return flight home. I also have some old pictures of me which my sister gave me to scan into digital format. All that means I am expecting a big Wednesday post for the WFMW and Way Back Whensday sections.

See you soon!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Howdy folks,

The 4 Webbs are boarding a flight again tonight for the trip back to AZ. We've been talking about airplanes for the last couple of days to prepare the kids for the flight. Yes, I realize the futility of explaining the concept of air travel, time, and distance That doesn't stop us from talking about the concepts with an excited voice to try an allay the fears.

Easton and Layla have really taken on the spirit of the Ozarks and their influences are toys at my parent's house. There is a cowboy toy that plays a country guitar riff and says, "Yeehaw!" So now our twins throw in a "Yeehaw" of their own in place of their common words, "awesome" and "yeah". Here is a picture of us at the Rutledge Wilson Farm where we all spent the morning with my sister and her kids.

Layla learned a new skill... Pumpkin riding. Not sure how useful this will be, but she's good at it!

And Easton is learning how to be kind to animals as we do our best to keep him from practicing french kissing the dog.

The twins have thoroughly enjoyed Waggles and we are wrapping up an excellent, memorable vacation. I have lots to share about the experiences here in Missouri, but unfortunately we have to pack up and do all of our last minute activities so we can get home. Hopefully my camera and laptop will survive the trip because that's where all the pictures exist!

See you in another state.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Yes, Jenny, I am posting this picture regardless of how bad anyone in it thinks they look. :) It's SUPPOSED to look silly and I think it turned out very well.

Tonight Kendra and I had an awesome evening as we shared a fondue dinner with my siblings, cousins, and our spouses. It's been 13 years since I saw Jenny, but by reading her blog I was somewhat up-to-date on her life. Blogs are good for something! Guess I'll have to get plugged into twitter to keep up with everyone?

Though many of us lived in different states (even different countries) over the past decade, the stars aligned for us to have one evening together (without any kids) to talk and laugh and eat. There is something very refreshing about being around people who have known you your entire life. It's even more special when they are blood relatives. I wish we had a full week out in the mountains to relax and catch up, but I'm content with a few hours of basking in the familiarity of cousins.

My sincere thanks to the spouses who endured our stories of family dogs from the past and memories of when we were kids. You never realize how many inside jokes exist until there are spouses present who require a full debriefing afterwards just to "get" half of the conversations that occurred.

Also my apologies for the crumby picture quality. The dude who took the picture practically walked across the parking lot to take the picture so I had to crop it down.

Anyway, my mom (Nana) is doing a great job of keeping up with the 4 Webbs. All of the extra cooking and cleaning up is demanding. Beyond that she is even able to keep up with their playtime, which wears out even the most active individuals who dare to be a part of the excitement. Easton verbally asks for the "car" swing and his imagination is expanding faster than the universe itself.

Easton and Layla are spoiled with Papa's full-sized slide and swing. Going home to our little plastic, indoor slide will seem woefully inadequate. Several times every day (when it isn't raining buckets) they play on the slide and swing. Layla is highly coordinated when it comes to physical abilities. She hangs from the monkey bar and climbs the wooden steps of the slide with ease.

I marvel at her concentration and smirk at her serious nature. It's my job as a parent to cultivate and guide, but she is who she is and I can't wait to find out what she is able to accomplish in life.

Easton LOVES his sister. Makes me all warm inside just seeing his happy face as the twins hug.

We walked with Aunt Joanie and her clan across a bridge directly over the local mall traffic. Easton is enthralled by all motor vehicles. However, even though cars and trucks were whizzing by, he still took time to give Layla a big hug. How's that for best friends?

The 4 Webbs spent an evening with my sister and her family at their house. Easton thought it would be nice to "sing for his supper" by mowing the lawn.

and I showed Eli and Silas some TaeKwonDo moves:

Joanie made it well worth our time by allowing us to join them for a wonderful dinner and (my favorite) chocolate cake with chocolate icing!

We are happy the twins are able to spend so much quality time with their cousins. I'm jumping around chronologically, but there are so many adventures every day we are here it is difficult to capture them with one post. I'll save the rest of our evening with Joanie and the trip to the zoo for the next post.

See you soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What day is it?

Hello friends and family,

You know a vacation is going well when you have to ask, "what day is it?" Today I helped my Dad pick out a shiny new laptop (with an Intel processor of course) for my Mom. She was surprised and I'm looking forward to getting it configured and seeing how well she likes it. Just an FYI, the Best Buy extended warranty includes a free battery replacement, which will run you about $150 when you have to replace it after a couple of years if you don't have the Best Buy warranty. There is your "Works For Me Wednesday" moment for this week.

Anyway, back to the adventures. Layla is already very comfortable taking over Papa's recliner.

This is how layla feels about thunder:

And this is her "cute face" as she tries to imitate her cousin Daphne:

We took a trip to Bass Pro Shops because it is shamelessly entertaining to wander around inside the enormous store and point on the animals and people watch. The bear behind us is huge and Easton held up like a trooper compared to Layla who fell apart when we stood close to it.

Easton and Layla are playing well together as usual. Any time someone says, "give your brother a hug" Layla will stop what she's doing and give him a big hug and kisses. Can't you just feel the love?

You can't have adventures unless you go adventuring. Not all outings are successful, as you can see by this picture of Kendra and Easton.

The waitress at Ruby Tuesday's brought Kendra a tall glass of fruity iced tea and spilled it! All over Kendra's white shirt and pants as well as splattering Easton. As she was sopping up the mess, her tray tipped down and dumped directly down on top of Easton's head. Kendra was sweet up to that point, but after Easton was drenched with sticky, sweet tea, she did her best to avoid verbally abusing the poor waitress.

I was laughing (way too early to laugh at the situation, but i couldn't help it) and even caught a picture as the aftermath ensued. That guy behind kendra is the store manager and he came to the rescue like the Marx Brothers running around like crazy to try and make things right.

After we arrived home and thought the ordeal was behind us, we noticed the diaper bag was drenched in the tea as well. And I realized my cell phone was resting in a puddle of tea. At this point the story became NOT funny any more, but I'm laughing about it now. The manager said they will buy me a new phone and pay for Kendra to get new clothes for her and Easton because washing didn't get the stains out. How's that for an adventure?

We met up with my sister and her kids at the park and had an excellent time playing on the equipment and kicking the soccer ball around. I'll have more pics and stories next time, but here is a picture of all the kids sliding on the oldest piece of equipment in the entire park:

I'm still a few days behind because we are so busy having fun it is difficult to find time to write about it. However, there will be sleep enough in the grave so I'll catch up to real time as I blog instead of going to bed early.

Bye bye for now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

on vacation (part 2)

Where do I even begin? My mind is overflowing with content for the blog, but it's so hard to put everything into words that result in a coherent post. I'll give it my best shot.

Firstly, let me say that I talked my Dad into buying a wireless router so I didn't have to sit in the Autozone lobby to build this blog post. Thanks, Dad! I'm grateful for his willingness to purchase it and also to Linksys for their superior products. I threatened to list my Dad's home address on the website that shows where to get free wireless internet (along with autozone and the bread company).

I never realized how much I miss certain things about Missouri until I'm here and have the opportunity to enjoy them. Andy's frozen custard is one of those things. Kendra and I have visited Andy's every night since we arrived and I foresee many other trips there over the next week. Easton and Layla ate their kiddie sized cone as well as some of ours.

My nephews, Eli and Silas, shared their cream soda in a bottle with me.

Actually, our entire family was more than happy to go for ice cream! Andy's doesn't have a seating area, just a drive-thru, walk-up window, and a curb to sit on.

Another thing I miss is rain! After living in the desert for 13 years, lightning and thunder and flooding are extremely rare and interesting. Easton and Layla were amazed as we went for a walk in the rain. Kendra kept Layla dry and Easton huddled under these things called umbrellas as we strolled through my parent's neighborhood.

My nephew Silas hid under his umbrella and Eli jumped out from behind his as we walked by.

My brother-in-law John was a good sport to go along for the walk and secure enough in his manhood to don the maroon floral print umbrella. My mom only had 5 umbrellas on hand so he was stuck with the broken, leaky, flowery one.

By the way, we don't even own an umbrella so that should tell you how rare we get to experience rain where we can go for a walk. Tonight we received torrential downpours and here is a picture of my parent's back yard. You can see it turned into a river!

My Dad had to open the gates on either side of their back yard just to let the flood flow through. It was truly amazing to see the rain come down sideways. The thunder rolling on and on for hours sounded like a lullaby to me. I've been sleeping very soundly here partially due to the drone of the rain and crackling of thunder.

There are other things I miss without having to visit before remembering how great they are. Sunday lunch with our entire family is one of those events.

This was the first time for all of us to eat together since our twins were born and my brother's adoption of Lexi was finalized. A very special moment indeed. All of my parents kids and their grandkids under one roof sharing the best part of life: Quality time together.

The 4 Webbs are experiencing Missouri weather at its finest... one minute we are playing in the park with shorts and a T-shirts on and the next we are dodging a downpour as we run inside the house from the car.

Easton loves Waggles (Nana and Papa's dog) almost as much as he loves his thumb.

Layla discovered she can bounce on the bouncy ball just like the big kids (as long as Aunt Joanie was close enough to hold on to her).

Daphne is such a good helper. She shows off her mommy skills by helping to feed Easton.

And she is willing to show Layla the correct way to stack blocks.

Every day really is an adventure for us. I cherish every moment of the vacation and time away from work through the simple things of what I call "doing life together". This goes back to the concepts of my previous posts where I blog about manufactured fun compared to natural fun. There is nothing more natural than spending the days with grandparents watching the twins grow up before our eyes.

There are many more stories and photos to share, but the dual alarm clocks don't turn off... even during vacation. Therefore I must retire to bed and hope to find time during the day tomorrow to share about Kendra and Easton and my phone getting drenched with raspberry iced tea, compliments of our waitress.

PS. don't call my cell phone because it short circuited and is dead. Time to go buy a new phone when i get back to Arizona!

Bye bye.