Monday, October 31, 2011

No puppy

Greetings friends and family,

It is officially Monday October 31st, which means Halloween for everyone else in the country.  Not for the 4 Webbs!  It means much, much more.  Today is the day we get the keys and garage door opener to our new home.  It is the beginning of a boat-load of work and a new chapter in our lives.  Luckily the move is less than 1 mile away so nothing else is changing besides the residence.  Same school, same grocery store, same church, same In-N-Out burger.  Wait a minute...  all In-N-Out burgers taste the same so scratch that last one.   Anyway, I'm happy to have everything else in our lives be consistent through this transitional stage.

The day after Kendra and I returned home from our honeymoon I moved her to Arizona.  New home, new church, new work, new cleaners, new friends, new HUSBAND, every aspect of her life was turned upside down in a single day.  That caused an extraordinary amount of stress on her that I didn't consider at the time.  If only I had it to do over again.  Since I don't, all I can do is say, "Kendra please forgive me for making such drastic changes in such a short amount of time" and move on with life.

Some people have recommended we get a dog or asked why we don't have one.  To show my reason pictorially I give you exhibit "A":

Easton is tossing Bolt in a basket over his head.  Layla is swinging Nelly by the paws over her head.  Any questions?  I feel sorry for the poor, unfortunately pup who lands in our house.  I know they wouldn't treat a real dog like this, but I've seen them push otherwise docile dogs to the verge of growling.   Besides, we have more than enough excitement around our house without cleaning up messes of a dog.   We've talked about the possibility, but neither of us are excited about the required maintenance associated with owning a dog.  Maybe when they a bit older, but probably not even then.

They haven't asked why Ben and Trinity have a dog or why Riley and Jaden have a dog, but we don't.  Until then we'll keep the status quo.  Don't give them any ideas!  I'm talking to you, Ouma.  :)

See you soon!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snugglee and Snugglor

Howdy friends and family,

As I whined over the past few posts about the busyness of life a reasonable person might infer I haven't taken time to catch up on blog reading.  I got an email from Marisue who pointed out a particular post on my best friend's blog titled, "The wife loves to snuggle like a fat kid loves cake."

It really is as humorous and relatable as she suggests.  He wields the English language like a sword so I won't even attempt to add or remove anything from his post.  However, I can describe how this works out in the Casa de Webb and hopefully provide some support for his wife since I'm a fellow snugglor.  Kendra feels the same way my friend does, but mostly because she's hot like a locomotive furnace.  Her core body temperature is probably above 105 degrees.  If any part of my body crosses the (very defined) middle of the bed then her temperature increases to 115 degrees or so one would think by her reaction.

I admit my halitosis breath attacks before my head finishes sinking into the pillow.  Also, I breathe heavy all night long (think Darth Vader in a sauna).  Even so, I cherish the nights where I get 3-4 minutes of snuggle time before she overheats and I'm relegated to the cold half of the bed.  Our marriage is at a place where we laugh about this kind of thing.  We realize if this is the most heated  disagreement we have then our relationship is very solid.  Anyway, I had a good chuckle from my friends blog post and I'm sure you will too.

The only pictures worth mentioning lately are from my new iPhone.  The image quality still stinks, but it's better than what I had!  If nothing else it is handy since I never go anywhere without my phone.  Easton and Layla are so lucky to have such an awesome built-in playmate.  Easton wanted to push his dump truck to the mailbox.  Lucky for Layla we figured out early how duplicity diminishes disputes.  Kind of like having two tubes of toothpaste so couples don't fight about how the other person rolls or squeezes.  Layla, not wanting to be left out, requested her own dump truck.  No problem!  We actually have THREE dump trucks so when one of them chooses a dump truck the other one gets a choice between the second and third ones available.  Now THAT's thinking ahead.  avoiding single-toy arguments results in pictures like this:

instead of something out of Fight Club.  See you soon!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are 3 days away from taking occupancy of the new Casa de Webb.  Prior to hearing the official move in date today I was not excited because the only difference in our daily life was the missing money in our savings account due to the whopping down payment.  Seeing a tiny number where there used to be security of a big number is not comforting.  Logically I know the house is ours and we'll eventually get there, but now I have a target date and I'm giddy like a school boy.  Were hoping to sleep the first night on Nov. 14th, but I'd hate for Ouma and Oupa to miss out on helping us move.  :)

We're kicking it into high gear with boxes and trash flying everywhere.  Each person entering our home MUST be read a disclaimer prior to entry otherwise Kendra is worried they might be put off by the clutter.   Easton and Layla are taking all of this in stride.  The rest of their lives are very structured and consistent.  School, church, library, bed time, and everything else are firmly in place during this time of transition.  They still fit in the rocking chairs very well so we'll certainly transfer them to  the new place.  The twins gnawed on their first tootsie-roll lollipops.

They experienced plain lollipops before, but I knew this would be entertaining.  As we played together then kept licking and licking and licking.  I waited patiently for one of them to reach the chewy surprise in the middle.  Easton got there first and his expression was priceless.  You'd have thought he won the state lottery based on his excitement level.  He proudly showed Layla the tootsie roll awesomeness.  She looked at her sucker and realized it contained the same chewy center.  She chomped into it with no intention of seeing how many licks it takes to get to the center.  Their enthusiasm made my week.

By the way, you might notice Layla has Oupa's calf muscles.  Trust me, she also inherited his strength as well.  Easton inherited my legs.  Sorry dude...  Nothing I can do about that!

Kendra braided Layla's hair in what I think is called a French Braid.  I remember when she was almost two years old and still hairless.  Back then I could visualize what it would be like to braid her long hair and now here we are!

Below we have the pre-concert picture of April, Kacey, and Kendra before they headed out to see Taylor Swift.  I'm glad Kendra shared the experience with April.  Kacey IS thirteen and the other two acted thirteen.  I call that a successful night out.

Layla and Layla Ruth were princess'd out by the end of the three days together.  The next time we are together my goal will be to get April and Kendra to duplicate a picture of the two Layla's.  I'm talking about getting matching outfits and duplicating the setting and facial expressions.

I can't figure out exactly what is so special about this next picture of Layla with the Ariel doll, but I really like it.  Could be because she looks so mature even in a tutu.  She looks forward to her Tuesday dance class all week long.  Daily she asks Kendra and I to sit on the couch as she flutters around to the classical music.  She's got mad dance skillz.

The past three days were some of the most fulfilling in recent memory.  I put together a team to support the church conference and we had a blast doing it.  These two guys were outstanding partners in serving. I trust them with my life and money can't buy that kind of bond.

One of the many fringe benefits was the freedom to "sample" the food throughout the day.  Nothing like a BBQ dinner at 11:30 PM!

Even though the conference was immensely satisfying I'm glad it is over.  The long days made it tough to spend much time with Kendra and the twins.  I'm looking forward to the weekend because even though we'll be packing and running around like crazy at least the 4 Webbs will be together!

See you soon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Hello friends and family. The Rosa family came to town for a weekend instead of digging their toes in the ocean sand 1 mile fr their house. That's sacrifice if I ever heard it!

Kendra and April joined thousands of screaming pre-teens at the Taylor Swift concert. They even went so far as to hand-paint signs on their shirts! I supported them completely and I'm very glad for them to go have some silly fun together. I hope Kendra never loses the young at heart fun side I was attracted to when we first met. The same genes are proudly running through Easton and Layla!

They loved every minute of play time with their old pal. Layla cried after Layla Ruth left and that's really difficult to watch because there is nothing a father can do to change the situation. However we openly discussed how we are grateful for the time we were given.

This is a short blog post from my iPhone because I've been volunteering for the conference at church the past few days. I'm looking forward to the weekend more than normal because I'm missing the evening daddy time I'm used to getting.

See you soon!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Funny Bunnies

Greetings friends and family,

Aunt Mary blew through town and spent a night on her way to California.  We stayed up until 1:00 AM talking, but still aren't close to caught up with everything going on.  She'll be back through in a week for a longer visit and we'll have time to chat.

Based on what other parents tell me and personal experience from my childhood I expect Easton's toys to get bigger and more expensive over time.  For now he's satisfied driving anything with wheels.  The $5 toys are still a big hit.  When I asked, "what do you want to play now?"  He said, "Cars...  no wait... Big trucks!"  We hauled his not-so-big trucks down to the green belt and he had his first taste of rock crawling.

Kendra bought cheap, used tap dancing shoes for Layla.    We have an instructional video from the library which teaches beginning ballet, tap, and something else.  She's still loving her general dance class through the pre-school, but ballet and tap are on the top of her list of things to do.  Especially now because she has the official shoes to practice along with the video.  The tutu was her idea because when Layla does something she goes all-out!

 Who would guess bunny ears and a hula-hoop can be this fun?

Watching kids grow is fairly universal for one or ten or twins or quads.  However, some situations are twin-specific and those moments are truly the spice of life around our house.  Easton and Layla took turns leading and following as they giggled and ran around the house inside the same hula-hoop.  If they were different ages or sizes then this exercise would probably end with bruises and someone crying.  Since they are twins it worked out fabulously...  until they tried to go in opposite directions.  That was a key learning for them.  They just stood there facing opposite directions spinning their wheels and going nowhere.  Then Layla turned around and they took off across the floor like the Marx Brothers.

There is a relationship-based philosophical concept in there as well.  Two people moving against each other in a relationship will go nowhere, but when they point the efforts in the same direction there is no limit to what can be accomplished.  I'm very tempted to recreate this picture with Kendra and I...  Bunny ears and all.

Our move-in date for the house might be a week sooner than we expected.  Seems to change from one day to the next, but we aren't stressed about it.  I've waited for 4 years so an extra few days one way or the other doesn't matter.  If things go well we might be able to give out Halloween candy to the trick-or-treaters.  Three years ago we sat in front of Mary's house (our new house) with the twins passing out candy.  We had no idea we would be parking our cars in the driveway three years later for the first time.

I remember that Halloween because we had Mr. and Ms. Santa Claus outfits ready for the twins to wear as costumes.  The outfits were purchased for Christmas time.  Because we already had them and knew the twins wouldn't remember the occasion we decided to use the Claus outfits for Halloween costumes.  We arrived at the house to pass out candy and realized it was still 90 degrees outside.  The twins were sweltering so we just took them off and dressed them in the new costume:  Twin babies.

So much has changed in three years for Easton and Layla as well as Kendra and I.  In some ways the twins physical and mental growth is equivalent to our emotional and spiritual growth.

There's a pattern developing so I'll just call it what it is:  Here's my "Daddy loves Layla" song of the day.  It's called Red Robin by Clark Richard.  Here are the heart-felt lyrics I like most:

now our little lady’s out with daddy for the day
she fought the yawns but couldn’t stay awake
as I place her in the car
she’s out like a light
cause she knows I’ll get her home all right

if time could only give me
a moment to reflect
to smile on all that has been
to treasure what is left
though I won’t always be here
this you surely know
that I’ll quietly spot you
anywhere you go

Seems weird to know I'm somewhere in the middle of this story, but I'm feeling more comfortable in the daddy role more every day.  My concern is that I'll figure it out and get it right just about the time they head off to college.  :)

See you soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

8,000 horsepower

Greetings friends and family,

The most powerful force a person could ever experience in person is NHRA drag races.  The space shuttle blast off is obviously much more powerful, but no one can be within 3 miles of it during take off.  However, I stood a few feet away from the 8,000-horsepower, nitro-fueled funny cars going 300 mph.  Here's a video I took of the view we had all day long.

The whole day was paid for compliments of my corporation.  I won VIP parking, Bill Johnson's BBQ lunch buffet, and first class seating with an umbrella and unobstructed view of the quarter-mile race track from start to the finish line.

My friend David joined me for the day and we had a blast. We wore ear plugs with ear muffs over them and our hands pressed firmly against the ear muffs to seal out the insane decibels.

As the not-so-fast cars were running we watched as the crews fully disassembled and rebuilt the motors.  This is as close as the average man could possibly get to something so powerful.

David has supported Geico through insurance premiums so we rooted for this car simply because he probably paid for the right front tire over the years.

I used to go with Uncle Dave to the drag races.  I couldn't help but sense the irony of enjoying what probably would have been the best day of his life if he were still alive.  It was a picture-perfect day from the close parking to the top-notch seats to the free BBQ by the lake track.

Normally the blog is about Easton and Layla and our family, but an experience like that is worth.  That was the weekend of fun, but then I went back to work while Easton and Layla continued their adventure filled lives.  A group of mommies and kids including the Webbs went to the zoo for entertainment.  The rhinoceros was up and walking around, which Kendra said is a rare sight.

Daniel's little sister, Katelyn, joined in the zoo fun, but she's not quite old enough to hang over the railing for the cages.

The whole crew of kids lined up and this is a good picture considering how difficult it is to get even one kid to sit still and look at the camera.

Kendra caught a humorous conversation as Layla and Daniel walked hand-in-hand down the path.  The twins are both excited about telling jokes lately.  As a courtesy translation, Layla says "on my tushy tushy" meaning she fell on her butt.

The carousel is still high on the must-do list of zoo activities.  Easton chose the dragon partly because he's trying to convince us to buy him a Night Fury dragon costume for Halloween...

Aunt Mary is coming into town tomorrow for an over-night stay with us.  She's on her way to California for a visit with her friend and then she'll come back through for a week to tie up the loose ends related to the people living in our house through November 7th.  Sure seems weird to say "our house" but I'm starting to like the sound of it more every day.

Kendra and I still have occasional arguments or disagreements.  When I start one she calls it "being mean", but when she starts one she calls it "being passionate".  :)  99% of the time they are related to unnecessary things like whether the kids should eat peanut butter for dinner or not, but occasionally they are about slightly more meaningful topics such as what couch to buy.

For some reason she has it in her head that we must make a choice between form or function (attractive vs. comfortable).  I try to disagree by pointing out a couch can be both attractive AND comfortable.  The comparison I considered, but didn't make because we both gave up, is this:

There are many attractive girls in this world.  There are many nice girls in this world.  There are many Christian girls in this world.  Even though the odds are minuscule I managed to find Kendra who is ALL of those things and much, much more.   I'm hoping the same scenario plays out in the couch purchase where we both get the attributes we want without sacrificing.  After all...  we only need ONE couch and know there must be at least one on this planet that meets all our desires.

Since Kendra doesn't blog (by her own choice) there will be no rebuttal or flip-side of the story (insert evil laugh) and no one is allowed to ask her about it either because that would make my blog powers useless to persuade people.  As Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz says, "I have an intense, burning indifference."  Whatever couch we get will need to last 10 years.  If I get what I want, what will I complain about?  Just thinking long-term, ya know.

See you soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Potpourri of Excitement

Howdy, friends and family.

The past few days are almost indescribable.  I'll give my best effort to do them justice, but the stories will have to be broken up in separate blog posts because time is limited more than normal lately.  First the bad news...  My great uncle Ronnie passed away today from a heart attack. From what Cousin Bud said he had a bum ticker for the last several years so it isn't a complete surprise, but sad none the less.  I don't even remember the last time I saw him.  Maybe once in the past decade?

He was one of those old guys who was SO old I thought, "He's never going to die and may outlive me even though he's two generations older than me".  Emotionally I'm so disconnected with him that I don't think a grieving process is needed because I have virtually no memory of him whatsoever.  The only connection I have is the compassion towards the family members I had a relationship with many years ago who are affected by his passing.

Now for the good stuff.  We are wearing out the Phil Wickham "Response" album at our house and in the car.  I call it an album even though we play it in digital format exclusively.  What else do you call it?  Anyway, Layla is getting more confident with her voice all the time.  Kendra captured a clip of her singing along with "Heaven Fall Down".  The head bobbing is from me grooving to all kinds of music around the house.  She even closes her eyes a few times which is an obvious parroting of Kendra getting lost in worship regularly.  It's a healthy sign of her growing up with the right influences in her life.

When Layla and I go on "Daddy dates" she requests I sing the Star-Spangled Banner.  Gladly!  I say and give it my best shot.  My rendition is not as epic as what I consider the best performance in the history of the USA.

I just got lost in the Youtube vortex finding that last clip and wasted 35 minutes of sleep time...  Hate it when that happens.  Anyway, Layla and I are developing a singing aspect of our relationship where one or both of us break out in song occasionally.  Every night she begs me to sing three songs.  Then I say one.  Then she says, "Two, pleeeeeeeeese?" and I agree.  She request Amazing Grace then Jesus Loves Me...  In that order.  I put my hand on her cheek during the songs.  If not she will search around for my hand and put it against her face.  If I don't stroke her cheek she will rub her face back and forth across my hand.

Every.  Single.  Night.

There is something to be said for consistency.  If I'm not able to get home she stays awake up to an hour past bed time just to go through our nightly routine.  Some may consider that to be a bad dependency, but at her age I am perfectly happy to be the one providing the consistency and solid foundation.  I can see more every day how extraordinary her confidence is becoming.  Some small part of that is because she honestly believes me when I say, "Daddy will always be here for you and I love you all the time no matter what."  Day after day I reinforce by saying it like a broken record.

Easton is clearly uninterested in singing or dancing, which is fine with me.   I don't want to force any hobby or personality trait that isn't a passion for him.  His current fascination focus is the human body.  His recent favorite books are all about skeletons, muscles, nerves, and organs.  Easton has a great ability to comprehend complex systems and concepts.  I'm already jealous of his attention to detail and skills in this area.  Today he proclaimed he wants to fly the Concorde aircraft.  I don't have the heart to tell him they are no longer in service.  It's possible by the time he is old enough to fly there will be super sonic transportation again.  The crazy thing is how he believes and I believe he is completely capable of doing it.  Sky is the limit for this kid.

The 4 Webbs were fortunate enough to get 4 free tickets ($124 worth!) to go see Phineas and Ferb Live.  Yet another reason we are happy to have only two adults and two kids in our family.  Here's a short video clip of a country dance set during the show.

And for those of you who don't bother to watch the YouTube clip, here's a good quality of picture of the stage and characters.

The show was well received by Easton and Layla.  Although the choreography and production quality were great I couldn't believe people actually paid the ridiculous face-value of the tickets.  Yikes!  You can see the uncertainty in Easton and Layla's faces.  That was due to the very dark conditions and the Star Wars themed fight scenes with light sabers.  It was tame to say the least, but they are both very sensitive to the "bad guys".

The $7.00 popcorn box was the only expense of the trip so I gladly forked out a few dollars for the hungry kiddos.  Kendra enjoyed the show as much if not more than the twins!  

I'll have to save the rest of the weekend update for tomorrow's blog post.  See you soon!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Puddles and Tips

Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are home owners...  we think.  The title company was supposed to call on Friday to confirm everything is posted, but didn't.  Guess we'll hear for sure on Monday?

We survived the hottest August ever recorded in Phoenix.  I'm not sure if that is good news or bad news, just the facts.  The troublesome part is that the summer just won't go away.  It's mid-October, but lucky for us Kendra didn't pack the swim gear...  yet.  Otherwise, washing the car in the 97 degree heat this evening wouldn't have been nearly as fun.   Easton and Layla were soaked from running back and forth through the hose.

The cul-de-sac was flooded all the way around so they ran laps splashing in the puddles.  It's not like we get rain frequently enough to go play in the puddles.  So we make our own!

Two clean, dry cars resulted in two dirty, wet kids.  It was a fair trade though because I was entertained the whole time.

Don't play with your food!  Most of the time this is part of the broken record spinning during each meal.  However, there are times when it's just irresistible.  Like a hand-full of raspberries with a hole in the top just perfectly sized for a three-year-old's fingers.

I took a few close-up pictures of Layla as she played on her princess computer.  Then she asked if I would take a picture of her WITH the computer.  She arrived at the show-and-tell stage of life over the past few weeks due to the introduction of it in school.

Now every time a new guest arrives at our house we have 5-10 minutes of the twins showing random pictures they drew and toys.  Nothing wrong with that!  By the way, I have a few key learnings to pass along.

1.  interruptions - We learned how to deal with this by observing the teacher-student model at their pre-school.  When a parent is talking to someone via phone or in person there is a protocol implemented to allow the child to interrupt.  Commonly it comes across like this:  "Mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMY, mom.... Mommmmmm...  MOMMY" until finally the mother cuts the conversation and says, "WHAT IS IT!?!?"  Instead, the protocol we are teaching is for the child to quietly place their hand on the adults forearm and wait for acknowledgement.  Then the adult places their other hand on top of the child's.  That way the parent (or teacher) knows the child has something to say and child knows the parent is acknowledges the child's request.  When the conversation is done, then the adult addresses the child with full attention.  This is theory, but also works in practice.  I saw it at school and we are working on it at home.  Is this common practice?  It could be common, but I just wasn't observant over the past few years until it really mattered with my own kids...

2.  Free coloring pages.  There is no need to ever buy another coloring book.  Easton and Layla love to color and I found the not-so-secret way to go above their expectations virtually for free.  With a coloring book there is a theme and some pages are more interesting than others.  However, if you follow this process the child gets exactly what they request with immediate gratification.  Here's how the amazingly simple process works:

go to
type in "coloring pages" and whatever you want to find
click on the most appropriate link
Find the picture you like
Print it out.  That's it.

for example, I type in "coloring pages airplanes" and get this result, which Easton loves:  

The twins give me very specific requests such as, "Ariel mermaid princess in a shell".  I can do that!

I print off three or four picture requests and have a great time with the three of us coloring the pages together.  It's free and fun.  two things I really like.

Speaking of free, I'm getting free tickets from work for excellent adventures.  The weekend was jam-packed from the dual alarm clocks (Easton and Layla) to the moment I laid my head on the pillow.  I admit it was busy only because we chose to fill it.  Even so I'm looking forward to Monday morning getting back to work so I can rest.  :)

See you soon!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Home Owners Once Again

Pura Vida friends and family,

I'm missing my brother-from-another-mother who lives in Costa Rica.  Kendra is teaching Spanish vocabulary to the twins and I have such a long history with Memo that he is virtually synonymous with Spanish in my mind.  One year from now I'll be on my 90-day paid sabbatical from work.  My dream is to spend a week in Costa Rica with Memo and a week in France with my other international friend, Ryan.  Dreams don't always come true, but I'm at least going to throw it out here because the only difference between a dream and goal is a plan.  Now I just need to start planning and saving.  That brings me to the next topic:  Home Ownership.

Kendra and I are official home owners as of Friday at noon.  Hooray for the 4 Webbs!  We don't move in for 5-6 weeks though.  After more than 4 years of renting (happily) and investing/saving we pulled the trigger on our dream home.  I held onto the down payment check so tightly that the title company lady had to pull extra forcefully to pry it from my miserly hands.  That was a tough one.  The single biggest investment move of my entire life just shifted a substantial amount of liquid assets (cash) into one of the MOST illiquid assets (real estate).  My money still exists I just can't touch it...  ever again.  However, now I get the benefit of living in the investment, which is much more enjoyable than smiling at the .00001% interest the lousy banks pay.  

Kendra's interest in Interior Decorating and DIY is off the charts.  In case you want to see what SHE likes you can check out her Virtual Pinboard here.  In case you are wondering, "what is a Pinboard?"  here's the answer:  "Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.  People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes."

The 4 Webbs are window shopping virtually every day.  The term virtually means both "online" and "almost". Good grief, I'm getting quote happy.  I should take a grammar class at the local Junior College so I can tame the over-quoting beast.  I'll get right on that after Easton and Layla finish college.

Anyway, we are regulars at Lowes. Easton and Layla are both good sports about walking the isles with us.  Sometimes they need a break and this unframed shower worked out well.  It's a little too drab, don't you think?

The Christmas displays are an attention grabber especially for young kids.  Their good consequence for obedience and good choices was 5 minutes roaming the Christmas isle.  They stared at the blinky lights and tried on every hat including the reindeer antlers.

I took Layla on a Daddy date while Kendra took Easton on a Mommy date. Easton experienced the local train museum for the first time.  I've been saving that for a special occasion just like this.  Kendra said he loved it, but unfortunately no pictures from the adventure.  I told Layla we were going on a Daddy date and she could choose to do anything she wishes.  Her immediate response was a list of activities in the exact order she described them:

Look around the Disney Store
Eat a hot pretzel with cheese
Ride the mall train
Look at the jewelry in Claires

I was excited she knew exactly what she wanted and it was something I could easily accommodate.  Off we went doing exactly what she wanted in the order she described.  I want her to feel confident asking me for exactly what she wants so that she will feel confident in prayer asking God for exactly what she wants.  I say to her, "Be specific in both cases!"

The Disney store has an electronic mirror where if you wave some product around it a video plays related to the character whose merchandise was waved.  Here Layla and I are enjoying a brief clip from Tiana.

Layla will be Cinderella (again) this Halloween because the dress still fits her great and since we were in Sacramento last year no one in Phoenix saw her most wonderful costume.  Kendra wanted to dress her up as Minnie Mouse, but I talked her out of buying a new costume by referring to the insane amount of money we are going to spend on decorating the new house and moving.  Cinderella it is!

Layla has a nose like Toucan Sam.  As soon as the tasty scent of Auntie Anne's was in air Layla took off and stood quickly in line to wait patiently for our turn.  The lady in front of us had torn up fashion jeans. Layla thought she would be kind by fixing the perceived problem.  I had to apologize for her poking the young lady in the butt trying to get the hanging strings (awkward).  After my face turned from beet red back to normal tones we sat on a bench sharing a hot pretzel and cheesy sauce.  

Then to the train for a never-ending ride around the lower level.  Layla waved like a home coming queen in a parade screaming, "Hiiiiiiiiiiiii" and smiling brightly for all to see.

Lastly, we wandered around Claire's where she found a years-worth of gifts in the jewelry and make-up sections.

She zero'd in on a lip gloss kit with a pop-up mirror.  I chose the container with a blot in one of the colors because the clerk agreed to give me a discount.  Layla didn't care and I'm always lookin' for a bargain.  Layla took less than 10 steps out of the store before excitedly asking me to see her lip gloss.  I agreed, but not before preparing the camera so i could capture the moment.

I give you one of my finest works ever:  Lip Gloss Layla

Hmmm... Does that look familiar?  Why yes it does!  Double points for the time lapse photography win.  This is Layla discovering herself in the mirror for the first time when she was 8 months old.  

Watching our twins grow is one of the most rewarding things I've ever experienced.  Knowing they are experiencing unconditional love and a happy childhood is priceless.

See you soon!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pride and Selfishness

Top o' the mornin' to you, friends and family. Irish blood is in my genes along with German, Indian (slot not dot), and several other unknown blood lines of infamy. I think somewhere in my family tree is the care-taker for Belle Starr's horses. She was known as the Bandit Queen. We all have a history and as one of my mentors says, "Your past is either an anchor or a rudder, but it's your choice". It's hard to believe my life is approaching the half-way mark, but I'm highly confident I won't be in the same class of remembrance as Belle Starr. Thank God.

Aunt Susie's trip came to an end today after two weeks of full immersion into the 4 Webb's lifestyle. She was a joy to have in our home.  I hope she comes again soon and often.  Especially during the times of year when the sunny warmth of Phoenix looks more appealing than the rainy, cold NorCal weather. The only thing as sad as saying good-bye was realizing we did a terrible job of picture taking during her stay. Part of the problem is the unpredictable quality of the Canon SD1300 camera Kendra carries around. 75% of the images are too blurry to use. I miss my S90 terribly.

In 5 days we'll close on the house as we sign our name to the largest amount of debt in the history (or future) of our lives. We start the move to our new house in T-30 days.   We kicked off the 4 Webb's economic stimulus package for the US economy by laying down a few thousand on a truckload of walnut-stained ceramic tile.  When it's laid with a thin layer of dark grout it will look like a hardwood floor.  Looks great and cleans easily, but no hassle of maintaining a hardwood floor.  sweeeeeeet.  From what I experienced in the stores all a person needs to do for riches is start a tile factory in Italy and sell to the US.  Every time we saw a tile that costs three times the normal amount, the sales person said, "but THIS tile was made in Italy!" Whatever.  I don't know or care where our tile was produced.  It is exactly the color and texture of what Kendra is looking for and if she's happy then I'm happy.

Kendra regularly window shops online and at the brick-n-mortar stores for many other household items.  We have a spreadsheet broken out by room with the items in it and cost for each item.  Susie joined Kendra and the twins to check out a flea market somewhere. There happened to be an all-you-can-bounce bounce house in the middle of the wheeling and dealing.  Two bucks and 30 minutes later Easton and Layla were worn out and covered in germs.

The cool weather brought duck park smiles since it is open for business once again this fall.  Kendra's friend Susanna and her two little ones accompanied Kendra and the twins.  Easton and Coleson are the same age and he needs that boy time since we don't have any other close friends with a boy his age.  Oddly enough the best picture from the duck adventures shows the twins standing virtually on top of each other while Coleson feeds the ducks alone.

Layla's dancing is getting more creative every day.  The two of us danced until I couldn't lift and twirl her around anymore.  Easton joined in briefly (by coercion) as we did a ring-around-the-rosie kind of thing, but his interest in dancing is almost zero.  He would rather read books about the human body and shout out, "Daddy your gallbladder is green just like the man on this page".  Layla provides hours of performance quality entertainment.

I was happy to take a break from dancing to wrench on Easton's Tonka truck for a few minutes.  Task switching is the name of the game and I'm a master at it with these two around.

During the past month with Neill and Jenny then Aunt Susie around, the twins' quiet time was in Easton's room on the trundle bed.  However, after Susie left, Layla was moved to her own big girl bed again.  I heard talking during quiet time and discovered "quiet time" without his best friend was not fun at all.  He went to Layla's room and read books with her until I guided him back to his own room..

I hear about other twins or siblings who fought and hate each other all through life.  What a shame.  We established early on Easton and Layla would have a good relationship.  We regularly declare, "You are best friends"!  It's obviously working because they live it out day after day and grow closer all the time.

I picked a flower off a tree in the green belt then gave it to her in "prince charming" style.  She said, "Why thank you, prince Daddy.  I love it!"  Those moments are the ones I hope she remembers when she chooses a husband some day.

It's midnight and Kendra fell asleep a long time ago. I'm alone in the dark with nothing but the warm glow of three monitors filling the front room. There are seven interesting books piled up on my desk. I stare briefly, but I don't feel like reading right now. I have an open internet connection with nothing standing between me and an unimaginable wealth of information, videos, and music about relevant topics.

Instead of searching for news or reading Facebook about some obscure acquaintance's nap I open the folder on my computer where the most recent pictures of Easton and Layla are kept.  I reflect on the moments from their birth to now then relive the past few days with vivid coloring.  Then my mind wonders off into the future thinking about the amazing lives they have in front of them.  Some day Layla will get married.  Even though I have several years to work through that process I'm already well aware that I MUST work through it.  It's painfully obvious because I seek and find songs like this:

And I cry like a baby at the thought of watching her experience one of the happiest days of her life.  The song is about a father giving his daughter away in marriage.  Here is a portion of the lyrics in case the you can't watch the Youtube clip:

But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But its still hard to give her away
I loved her first

We pray for Layla's husband randomly during the day.  out loud.  in front of her.  The decision of who a person marries is so crucial.  There will never be a man good enough for Layla, but I want her to know what kind of man to find.   Ultimately she will choose a man based on how I treat her and how she sees me treat Kendra.  That's not a weight around my neck.  On the contrary, it's a relief and a blessing.  All I need to do is keep loving Layla and Kendra unconditionally and do my best as a husband and father to meet their three most important needs (Attention, Affection, Approval).

I've heard innumerable stories of people (men and women) whose father didn't love them unconditionally.  The ironic part is that every father is given the responsibility AND the ability to love, but some choose not to do it.  That gets me to the title of my post...  The reason father's fail in anything worth mentioning is due to pride and selfishness.

Getting married exposed those two strongholds in my life.  Having Easton and Layla provided the catalyst to break free from these two death traps.  Daily I uncover more and more areas of my life where pride and selfishness rule.  For this reason I can't point to a single day of change.  It's more like an onion peeling layer after layer.  I refuse to reference Shrek in any philosophical discussion, but you get the point.  This next picture provides the best example I found to show what it feels like to be free:

I have no idea where the sculpture exists or who created it, but I identify with it. One of the craziest aspects of my journey is how I didn't even realize I was bound up like the first image in the picture. How can anyone be bound and not know it? That's a simple answer... Anything can seem normal if enough lies are believed and one persists long enough. How bizarre.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Hello friends and family,

Two nights ago I took a group of guys to see Courageous, the movie.  What an outstanding example of defining what is a great father.  If you are a father, please go see it.  now.  Don't read the blog, just get your shoes on and go the the theater.  Seriously.  just go.

It's taken a couple of days for me to process the story, but I think I have a good enough handle on it to share.  My favorite quote is: "Some men will hear this and believe it but have no resolve to live it out." What an awesome call to actions for all fathers and husbands.  Even though that is sadly true that many won't be any different than when they went into the theater I'm grateful for fathers who catch this as a call to action and then do something about it.  I must get my hands on one of those "resolution" documents...

I received the concepts in the movie as a measuring stick to honestly identify where I am on the scale of fatherhood.  The situations were incredibly real and raw, but I didn't relate specifically with any of the five fathers.  Even though I didn't see a "you are here" star on a map, the concepts apply all the same.

Oddly enough I just talked with Kendra and Aunt Susie the day before about how I don't want to measure myself against my father in an attempt to be 1 tick-mark better than him.  On the contrary, I want to be the absolute best father I can by pouring 110% into Easton and Layla especially during these impactful early years.  The movie called out this specific point.  I leaned over to the guys during the movie and whispered, "I JUST said that yesterday!"  The movie wasn't a pat on the back for me, but it did give some confidence I'm moving in the right direction and some areas I need to work on.

Courageous was unlike any movie I've ever seen because I spent the entire 2 hours trying not to cry like a baby.  The thought of losing a child or missing my kid growing up or even if I passed away what it would do to the twins being fatherless really hit me hard.  One specific scene when a father denied his 9-year-old daughter's request to dance with her on a public lawn.  He said something like, "no that's ok.  you dance and I'll watch."  I hate to spoil the movie, but it became obvious the father wished he would have danced with her.

I don't have a fear of regrets.  That's not what motivates me to be as interactive with the twins as I am.  What motivates me is knowing I am there for them and TAKE the opportunity to cherish these moments which already feel like they are slipping away as they grow up.  I won't ever have to say, "I wish I would have danced with her" and whether Easton and Layla ever recognize the time and effort I'm pouring into their lives I'll die knowing this is my best effort.  They are my finest creation and no job or tangible thing or accomplishment will ever be more important than taking care of my family.  Every day is game day as a father and I don't treat anything like a casual practice.

I caught an example of this on video to illustrate what I'm describing.  I could easily have told Layla when she asked me to be the chef, "No that's ok.  you play restaurant by yourself and I'll watch", but Layla doesn't need a spectator.  She needs an interactive father.  I even wore my apron, just so you know.

I do my best to treat Easton and Layla equally with equal time.  I play 5-10 minutes doing whatever one wants, then 5-10 minutes doing what the other wants.  Easton is starting to understand boy time where the two of us do things alone.  I announced my intention to visit the hobby shop to fix my RC helicopter.  Easton immediately jumped up and said, "I want to go, but NOT Layla...  just boy time" so we hung out in the hobby shop together and had the best time talking about the airplanes.

I've thought long and hard about what developed my sense of normal when it comes to kids.  I attribute whatever success I find to two things:  having an open heart and mind to realize maybe I don't know everything.  secondly, reading articles and books.  Kids don't come with an owners manual, but there is more information out there than I could ever consume regarding child rearing.

As Mark Twain once said, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

Some part of success comes from my parents.  I acknowledge that.  However, my father wasn't shown a good example of fatherhood from his and he did much better than his father.  Just like my dad, I determined in my heart to be the best I can be.  That means taking the necessary steps to consider what was modeled for me and improve as much as possible based on the "good books" I read and the input I receive from other great fathers.  By the way, the Bible doesn't have all the answers otherwise there would never be a "Christian book store".    Just thought I'd throw that in there...

I'm off chasing rabbit trails because I'm writing unfiltered as the thoughts are running through my head.  The reason I write on the blog instead of doing a video is because I take lots of time to revise the content to avoid rabbit trails.  maybe I'll try a video blog once just to show how much better my (normally) cleaned up post is than my rambling thoughts.

See you soon!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Swimming in October

Greetings friends and family,

I'm not a big fan of labels or titles, but I discovered the term to describe Easton's primary area of interest: Earth Science.  The broad category contains an all-inclusive look into his idea of awesome.  The close second area of interest is aerospace. Those two cover 95% of his choice in books, toys, imagination, and movies.  Our friend Jacob spent an evening hanging out with the 4 Webbs and he joined the fun by piloting our remote control helicopter as Easton sat amazed.

When I ask Easton, "what do you want to play together?" he sometimes answer, "cars and trucks!" He plays with the Mac diesel truck, but since the grocery store had a super sale on the Cars 2 movie toys I picked up a second truck so we can each drive around. I'm working hard to develop his leadership skills because Layla tends to railroad him into submission if given the chance. I help by being a good follower and encouraging him to lead us through trucking adventures on the car mat.

For the first time in the history of our twins Layla is taller than Easton. OK, so maybe it is a little cheating since she's wearing Kendra's high heels. Easton has maintained an official one inch height advantage since the day they were born. People still easily identity them as twins because their height and features are very close. I see other sets of twins were one is completely different in skin tone or hair color or size. Those are harder to spot, but Easton and Layla get smiles and comments every time we take them out because of their happy demeanor and twin allure.

Kendra dressed the twins for church and I couldn't help but grab the photo opportunity. They both look so perfect dressed like little angels.

I know they aren't really perfect because I'm reminded every single day. Even so I can't help but see them as whole, complete, healthy, and perfect for me. Layla gives me multiple chances per day to speak truth into her life. With each question presented I know the real question I'm answering is, "Am I lovely?" That's always, always in the front of my mind.

Today she took some markers and a coloring book to her bed for quiet time. Why Kendra agreed to such an obvious setup to go wrong is beyond me, but it doesn't do any good to cry over spilled milk or marker covered children. Layla used the pink marker on her hands, face, sheets, pillow case, bed rail netting, and several other places I have yet to discover.

I walked in and responded calmly and appropriately.  My standard response is, "I love you no matter what, all the time."  She immediately started sniffling because she knew it was wrong and bad consequences would follow.  I laid down on the bed next to her and held her close.  We talked for a few minutes about the mishap and then she said, "Does God still love me?"

Finally!  the opening I've been waiting for...  I started with a simple, "yes, God still loves you no matter what, all the time." Then we dove into a deep conversation about how God loves her even more than I do and how there is nothing she could ever do to change how much God loves her nor I.  She's a smart cookie and her accepting this as truth was the first time I ever experienced what is "child like faith".  As a kid I'm sure I had that because it is the nature of all kids.  However, as an adult it is tough to grasp the concept until I experienced Layla's acceptance of the truth regarding how much her father loves her.

How could I ever be mad at my beautiful princess?

On a different day the same sweet girl wearing her ballerina tutu rode through the kitchen on her horse named Lucky.  She took my heart and gave me joy then rode off into the sunset.  Seems like a fair trade.

The silver lining to abhorrent, unrelenting heat in Phoenix is the excellent swimming conditions which last for months on end. I can tell this is the last hoo-rah for swimming this year.   The idea of and afternoon swim elicited shrieks of cheering, but when it came time to actually do it, the shrieks were accompanied with whining about how cold it is.  84 degrees in the water is COLD for these two Phoenix-acclimated weenies 

The twins were much more excited to lay on the warm pavement and pose for my unrelenting picture taking than to continue dog paddling through the chilly waters diving for rings.

Kendra and Aunt Susie experienced the West Side Story play with floor level seats.  I'm really glad Susie agreed to accompany Kendra.  Not because I disliked the idea of seeing the play, but because the two of them enjoyed and appreciated it much more than I ever could.

I had the privilege of hanging with the twins for an evening at home.  We played our hearts out and the only productive thing we accomplished was painting Layla's finger nails.  She sat in my lap and held very still so I could double-coat her nails with pretty pink polish.

I did a horrendous job.  Layla would have done better by herself, but I loved sharing that experience with her anyway. It looks like I strapped a paint brush to a dogs tail and scratched his belly while the tail wagging produced the brush strokes across her finger nails.  It's that bad...  The beauty of dealing with three year olds is that they don't even notice or care!  She is happy, I'm happy, Mommy probably won't be so happy, but it's my first try so I'm sure Kendra will extend me some grace as I learn a new skill!

My work week begins shortly and the extra curricular activities going on will ensure no moss grows under our feet.

See you soon!