Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Happy Things

Greetings Earthlings,

Easton's room is complete in a "Spaced Out" theme.  He has bedding and posters and coat hooks and toys all geared towards aerospace.  Kendra completed Easton and Layla's room so now we are working on den and great room.  The great room entertainment center will be delivered Saturday and the bath counter top on Monday.  Big area rugs and the sectional are in! Kendra and I are both very happy with the way the interior of the house is coming together.  Still don't have a toilet in the master bath though.  Sure wish I was more of a handy man, but I know when I'm in over my head.  Have no fear experts are on the way! week.

Kendra is getting back into some routines including preschool and play time at home for Easton and Layla.  They each had dye and and a utensil and some other products in a bowl to make cool swirly designs.  So much to learn!

Layla is learning the hard way about being a good sport.  Recently she started bragging inappropriately and Easton is a sensitive guy.  she says things like, "my pan is longer than yours" or "see Dad...  I'm obeying, but Easton isn't".  Those kind of comments set him off, which is very unfortunate.  I'm saddened to see Layla figured out how to push his buttons this early in life.

Easton's only comeback is "You're NOT my friend", but after a few minutes of crying and hurting each other's feelings they are back to playing pet shop kitties.  Such forgiveness is admirable.

I found this picture on the camera, but have no idea where this was taken or why.  I think it was before Thanksgiving at Trader Joe's.  I had a good chuckle after seeing it so hopefully it will do the same for you.

The twins are tired of going into furniture stores.  We've been to every single store within 5 miles of our house...  twice.  or sometimes three or more times.  The twins are so fed up with furniture store shopping we have to bribe them with a reward or treat or other good consequence like time at the park.  Easton knows how to pick a comfortable chair now so that's a good lesson to learn early in life.

We're savoring the last bits of warm weather by playing in the park frequently.  The twins wanted a change of pace so we drove to the lizard park.  Layla wants to wear her summer tops indefinitely, but the season of cool is finally here.  Easton is getting into super heros lately.  Batman is his favorite even though he's never seen a batman cartoon or movie.  He also thinks highly of Spiderman who adorns his hat.  When we play together he wants to be Batman and I play Spiderman.  At least we have our costumes already planned out for next Halloween.  Kendra should be the Progressive insurance lady again.  Her costume was awesome.

Anyway, Easton is earning his bravery badge by following in the footsteps of Layla across the barrier wall.  His showing off is getting to be more overt, but he's a boy so that's to be expected.   My job as a Dad is to continually answer the question for him.  The question is, "Do I have what it takes?" and my answer always, ALWAYS is, "Yes, Easton, you DO have what it takes!"

Layla needs to get into gymnastics soon.  Her core strength and skills are incredible.

The 4 Webbs are taking nightly walks lately.  It was a chilly 61 degrees (wah, wah, right?) so Kendra busted out the full length fur coat and Uggs.  The twins are amazed by all the Christmas lights.  Each house requires a pause and kid-friendly explitives.  Kendra and I are amazed we live in the wonderful neighborhood.  Nightly walks through it are very enjoyable for all of us.

I titled this post "Happy things" because I have a whole other post which will never make it in publication on the 4Webb's blog because it contains the not-so-happy things...

See you soon!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Green in Regulation

Buon giorno friends and family,

That's Italian for hello.  Layla wore her special French outfit and greeted our new friends with a hearty "Bon Jour" when we arrived at the get together.  Brandon knows a few languages and taught Layla how to say hello in Italian to add to her growing language credentials.

We spent an evening with Kendra's cousin's boyfriend's family.  We had high expectations based on her cousin's glowing description.  Impressed is not quite the right word... amazed is probably more appropriate. I've met a lot of great people, but it is something special to find great, classy people.  Here are the 4 Webbs and Ouma and Oupa with Brandon.  We watched the sunset from high up in the foothills overlooking Phoenix.

Here's a view of the residence showing the reverse angle of the balcony from the picture above.  This may be the most awesome home I've ever been in.  I'll have to think back through my memory banks to see if I can remember a nicer place than this one, but I doubt anything will come to mind.

As the sun set, the boys grabbed some golf clubs and wandered down to tackle one fairway before dinner. Oupa crushed a drive and Easton had his first golf experience.  Easton watched intently as Oupa and Brandon worked their golf magic to get a green in regulation.  That was no small feat for Oupa because he worked non-stop for the previous 5 days doing back-breaking manual labor helping us move.

Even Easton thought Brandon was cool because he preferred to hold his hand more than mine as we marched up the fairway.

We approached the green and could barely see the hole because the sun was completely gone. Even so, Oupa took time to show Easton how to find the bottom of the cup with his putting assistance.  It's blurry, but the best i could do considering the lighting conditions.

Brandon and Oupa parred the hole.  Easton loved every minute of the new experience.

One of the key tips I learned while talking to Brandon's family is how Brandon and his two brothers received their drivers license only after becoming an Eagle Scout through the Boy Scouts program.  Kendra and I latched onto that idea instantly.

Ouma and Oupa left (sniff, sniff) and we were back to being just the 4 Webbs.  The thanksgiving weekend weather was excellent so we took full advantage by spending time outdoors.  We took an afternoon to play around at Desert Breeze park.  I gave Layla the choice of riding the carousel or the train.  Since she is into ponies the carousel won.

Big Time was all about the train.  As we drove to the park Kendra asked the twins to name the train since it didn't have one.  Easton said, "Raisin".  Layla said, "Strawberry".  So we named the train, "Strawberry Raisin".  Easton and I rode it together while Kendra and Layla checked out the duck pond.

With all the playground equipment available we had a tough time getting the twins to stop and smell the roses. After a few attempts they laid down next to me to watch the airplanes and birds fly by.  Those are the moments that mean the most to me as a father.  There will come a day when they won't want to lay next to me on the grass, but for now I'm living the dream.

See you soon!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In the Neighborhood

Hello friends and family,

What an unbelievable week, month, and quarter.  My computer and desk are still in boxes so this is a more difficult task because i'm working on my laptop without my photo shop tools.  I'll tell the long version of the story in reverse chronology because that's the way my pictures embedded for some reason.  Whoever said "computers only do what you tell them to do" said that before the internet was invented.

We are fully moved in and partially out of boxes.  I found my deodorant and razor so that is a start.  I crop 90% of all blog pictures so you can see Easton and Layla's happy faces.  The house picture works much better fully zoomed out to get an idea of the homestead.  The huge saguaro cactus is a bonus with purchase of the home.  Desert landscaping is awesome because I don't have to mow any grass.

A large portion of time is spent on the back patio for Arizonians this time of year.  The light-jacket evenings make for comfortable conversations in the great outdoors.  After a smashing success of a Thanksgiving dinner the ladies relaxed outside as the kids swam in the hot tub.  Special thanks to Tam for joining forces with us to produce such a top-notch meal.

The dining room table had enough seats for everyone, but just to be comfortable we sat Easton and Layla at their own special table for our first big meal in the new house.

Our kitchen was like Grand Central Station during prep time for dinner.  I learned a long time ago to stay out the way in these situations.  They had it covered well.  Even though we'd only been in the house for two days all of the cookware and ingredients were in their place.

Ouma spent many hours playing with the twins during their week-long visit.  Her greatest contribution was keeping the them happy and engaged during the move and remodel.  She contributed in such a huge way to the moving, cleaning, and helping, but her bonding time with the twins was what I hoped for more than anything.  One particular afternoon she took them down to the green belt to play.  They met a mother and daughter, Ruby, who are our new neighbors.  Her personality is very similar to Layla.  they were best friends within about 10 minutes of meeting.

Oupa and Ouma joined the twins for some cuddle time one morning in Layla's room.  Oupa is an athletic work house.  I already knew that much. However, I didn't realize he had the strength and will power to do heavy-duty manual labor non-stop for six days straight!  The only regret from their visit is how we didn't have any big (or small) fun outings together.  I'm already looking forward to their next trip here so we can play, relax, and enjoy some vacation time together.  

Here is a picture of our first meal in the new house.  Nothing else was set up yet so we used Easton and Layla's table to break in the kitchen.

No TV for entertainment?  No problem...  We have princess ballerina Layla to entertain us for hours on end.    She even has her own "interpretive dance" like at the Swingle reunion so many years ago when I first met Kendra.

The twins are improving daily at their ability to "play together" without our constant supervision.  Talk about a game changer...  Kendra and I can actually have a conversation or complete a task without interruption or crying.  Who'd have thought?

Kendra set them up for success by providing the two felt boards and ample felt knickknacks.  Layla called for us to come see her work and we found Easton willingly supplanted the felt board.

during the move I tried to capture the twins for their first night in the new house.  Instead I got Easton's silly face and Layla's unnatural stiff-as-a-board expression.  They were both Wiley Coyotes running around through the unfamiliar surroundings all the way up to bed-time every night.

Our friend Kyle was a big help during the move.  He did everything from demolition of tile to wiring up our entertainment center.  Part of his return on the investment is admiration from Uno and Dos.  When he comes in the door they show him the meaning of the term, "twinpact" by charging towards him with arms wide open ready to give big hugs.  Kyle isn't all that experienced with little kids, but he's earned Easton and Layla's vote of confidence.  They successfully tested the new couch rocker on the back patio.

The body science books Kendra chooses for them from the library result in interested conversations I overhear.   They had an in-depth review of "what is a uvula" including the up-close and personal inspection.

Ouma and Oupa are already gone back to their normal lives in Sacramento.  We are doing well to figure out what is normal now in our new place.  The twins both expressed how much they miss Ouma and Oupa within an hour after they left for the airport.  This is the hard part about family living in other states, but we are managing well in spite of it.

Our Christmas plans are up in the air, but we know we're staying in town.  No tree or decorations this year because there is much more important work to be done like adding a toilet to our master bathroom.  :)

See you soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving friends and family,

I am very thankful for you, my friends and family.  More than any material thing, I cherish the people in my life and appreciate the relationships with those who choose to be a part of our life. 

That being said, we are extremely grateful for the blessing of moving into our dream house this past week.  Here's a not-so-short video clip of a tour through our new place.  We decided to put most of our finances into the house instead of just buying stuff to fill it.  We have a lifetime to fill it up. 

Much more work to do and finally we have a chance to relax with David and Tam and their family on this wonderful Thanksgiving day.

See you soon!

Coming back to life

Greetings friends and family,

My apologies for the lack of posts lately. Our Internet connection is up and running as of yesterday but my computer is still dormant in the garage. Our house is coming together wonderfully! Kendra and I are both very satisfied with the remodeling of flooring, paint colors, and elective upgrades like the bathroom vanity and light fixtures.

For the past 4 days we took breaks for 3 meals per day and a few hours of sleep each night. The rest of the time was spent getting the basics like toilets installed and beds built.

The twins are content with their new rooms and surroundings but as I expected they could care less what house we live in. I can tell they both just want us to stop fixing stuff and play cars/dolls with them.

I have pictures and movies including a walk-through of our house but now I need a computer to post it.

See you soon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 18, 2011

Imaginations in Full Swing

Ohsuhoseyo friends and family,

The 4 Webb's house and kitchen are fully packed including utensils, food, and cookware. As you can imagine we are eating out often right now. Tonight we visited our favorite sushi restaurant as semi-celebration of completing the packing. The usual greeting from the sushi master chef guy is "Ohsuhoseyo" or some nonsense muttering of Korean origin. Layla said, "what did he say?" right in front of the guy. Kendra is used to these kind of awkward situations so she said, "I don't know, let's ask!" The sushi guy repeated his incomprehensible babble and Layla repeated it back to him. Easton jumped in on the action and gave his interpretation as well. The whole row of sushi guys got a good laugh from their attempted response. I was a proud father to see their openness to other cultures and friendliness.

Today was my first official vacation day of my ten days away from work. I'm already counting on it turning into a ten-day move-a-thon.  Easton and Layla are getting more comfortable with the idea of moving to the new house.  They wandered too close to our massive Saguaro cactus so they had a time-out on the driveway.  They laid down to soak in some warmth since the daytime high was a chilly 74 degrees (holding up my sarcasm sign).  The driveway is massive, but somehow the two of them wind up connected at the hip just like the best friends they are.

I have a nerdy tip-of-the-day because many people have misconceptions about computer passwords.  The key point is:  passwords suck, but a pass phrase is great.  If your online account accepts a pass phrase, please USE it!  Here is a cartoon to explain:

The 4 Webbs may be single-handedly saving the US economy.  We are doing more than our fair share of stimulating the economy as a result of our home purchase and insanely expensive remodel...  and we aren't even IN the house yet.  Once we get there on Monday my next sizable purchase will be a new TV for the great room.  Target acquired:

Maybe Black Friday will shave a few hundred more off the current price?  We'll see.

The new iPhone has a reverse camera capability which means the screen and the camera are on the same face of the phone.  Layla and I laughed so hard she was snorting as we took several pictures of us while watching ourselves be silly.  I wouldn't call this cheap fun because the phone is anything but cheap.  However, now that it is purchased the camera capability is free!  This is one example of using our imagination during quality time together.

Because all of Easton and Layla's toys are packed up in boxes we are learning to use our imaginations during our quality (and quantity) time together.  The twins are both still excited about paper airplanes for some reason.  We walked down to the greenbelt and I brought a stack of paper.  The neighbor boys came out again and I made enough paper airplanes for everyone to have two each.  I'm not sure what is the price of 10 sheets of copy paper, but the fun we had was worth a million times more than the cost.

Ouma and Oupa arrived last night.  I greeted them by saying, "Welcome to the chaos!"  They are already being extremely valuable by just being here to spend time with Easton and Layla.  Many rounds of playing chase and drawing have already occurred.  The additional blessing of their willingness to help us move is huge.  I have the best in-laws in the world.  If anyone tries to challenge my ranking I will simply pull out this picture and say, "Ha!  Top THAT!"  notice the custom printed T-shirts...

We are 50% done with the move thanks to them and my friend, Jacob.  Several trailer loads of stuff are already in the house and we will be into the new place by Monday assuming all the friends show up on Sunday who agreed to help us.  We can see the finish line!  The tile and paint are awesome.  I'll capture a video tour guided by Kendra tomorrow before we clutter the place with our belongings.

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Show Offs and Finished Tile

Bon Jour friends and family,

I translated my friend's French comment and relayed the message to Layla.  She lit up like a light when I told her he sent a message to her.  I couldn't get to Babel Fish for the translation because Layla was tugging on my mousing arm screaming, "what did he say? what did he say?"  It made her day and she said to say, "Thank you" for the compliment.

Individual bath time is a huge adjustment.  Easton soaks and plays with his toy shark and cars indefinitely.  I check on him occasionally to make sure he isn't shoveling bucket-loads of water onto the bathroom floor.  25 minutes later I have to sternly ask him to get out the tub.

Then there's Layla.  Miss social butterfly.  Being alone in the bathtub for any length of time feels like a form of  corporal punishment to her.  No sooner than she dips her toe in the water she asks me to sit on the commode and pretend to be Prince Eric so her Ariel water doll isn't lonely.  She has the time of her life as long as Daddy is there to entertain with silly voices.

Even with my comedic talent, three minutes later she is begging to get out of the tub.  Variety is the spice of life and daily sustenance of parenting twins.

Easton discovered what it means to show off.  In a bit of irony Easton and Layla were invited by the neighborhood boys to play in the "kid's cul-de-sac" one street over.  I agreed to chaperon as the twins branched out beyond our court.  We found ten kids under the age of seven running around the kid's cul-de-sac.  The ironic part is that we are moving neighborhoods next week after living in the same court for nice years!  It was like a circus or zoo or something.  bicycles circling like a WWII dog fight, frisbees whizzing by, and parents socializing while the chaos ensues.

Easton tried to show off and occasionally succeeded.  This was his first attempt at riding with no feet on the peddles.      

He fell more than five times and each time would jump up and proclaim, "I'm OK, Dad.  I'm fine."  This is a stark contrast to how he shed's a tear and has a pity party when this kind of thing happens in our house.  After the quick reassurance he'd be back to his feeble attempts to impress the older girls.  Here is one such older girl.  She was nice enough to take the twins on a front yard adventure bug hunt.  They captured several little critters while Easton and Layla crowded around to inspect each one.

For some reason as I looked at Easton sitting on the step ladder later that evening I saw him as a little boy instead of a toddler.  I'm sure it had to do with his maturing and events of the day.  Anyway, he agreed to pose for a picture as long as I promised to let him review it afterwards.

I would have been out of luck with my 35mm film camera if this were 20 years ago, but luckily technology allows the immediate feedback of reviewing pictures the second after they are taken.  He looked at himself in this picture and said, "Look at the rocket on my shirt!"

The house is coming along slower than molasses.  However, the floor and baseboards are almost completely done.  They look incredible so the slow cadence will be worth it.  Kendra and I are both very impressed and happy with the results.  Here is the final wipe-down as the grout dries.  I'm posting this one because it is easier to see the texture of the tile as it is wet.

This is the great room with the front door in the background.  The paint splotches on the wall are Kendra's test colors.  I can't remember which one she picked.  Frankly, I could care less either.  She is happy.  Therefore, I am happy.  It really is that simple.  I gave her 100% freedom to remodel the house exactly as she wants it from floor to ceiling and everything in between.

She trusted me to choose our first house when we were married and she never saw it until after I bought it.  Then she agreed not to spend any money on the rental house we've been in for over 4 years.  She's been very patient and trusting of my housing plans.  She deserves the chance to do things her way now that we are finally settling into our dream home.

The only trouble is that we are dumping so much money into the house itself we may not have much to spend on stuff to fill it like couches and mirrors and furniture.  Not to worry though.  We both understand we have a lifetime to fill it up with stuff.

For some reason I had in my mind Ouma and Oupa were arriving Thursday.  Tonight Kendra informed me they won't be here until Friday night.  My demeanor changed after hearing the truth.  Now it can be described as: sad face, sigh, angry eyes, pouty bottom lip.  Just GET here already, please!?

See you soon!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Time Allocation Defined

Moving is very similar to a spring cleaning. So far we found Aunt Susie's watch (deep in Layla's jewelry box) and Neill's yellow and black sunglasses. Easton is modeling as proof we still have them.

We may very well lose them again as we move this coming weekend.  My apologies in advance to Susie and Neill if their accessories don't make it safely across the street.  I'm not sure why people (especially FaceBook users) have such a hard time with the words lose and loose.  Here's your grammar tip-of-the-week:

If it has a voiced Z sound, then it’s “lose.” If it has a hissy S sound, then it’s “loose.” Here are examples of correct usage: “He tends to lose his keys.” “She lets her dog run loose.” Note that when “lose” turns into “losing” it loses its “E.”  Loose is an adjective.  Lose is a verb.

I know some of you think this is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black when it comes to my own grammar mistakes.  It's just so much easier to point out the faults in others than ourselves.

Anyway, the oddities of raising twins grow daily.  Now my quality time is scheduled according to the microwave oven timer. Easton begs me to play cars and build his train tracks.  Layla begs me to watch her practice ballet and play Go Fish.  Guess who wins?  All three of us!  I set the timer for 20 minutes and play princess Go Fish with my beautiful princess

Then another 20 minute timer for Easton and I to roll cars and trucks down the slide and make crash noises as they crunch together at the bottom.  Maximum breakage and destruction of vehicles appears to be the goal.

After 40 minutes of one-on-one time we sit and read together: one Layla-picked book, then one Easton-picked book.  That's a full hour round trip and everyone is happy.  Especially Kendra who takes advantage by packing, cleaning, moving, arranging, etc.

Kendra's time with Layla yielded a French braid

to match her French outfit, which says, "Love from Paris" with a glittery stencil of the Eiffel Tower.  All she lacks is holding some French fries or French toast and she'll be ready to visit my best friend in France.  Kendra taught her how to say hello and good-bye in French.  Layla spent the entire day greeting every Costco patron and church-goer with the traditional French salutation.

A new development for the twins is their new-found funny bone.  They tell jokes to each other that make no sense, but still elicits a chuckle or snot from the listener.  They make funny noises until the other acknowledges the sound by laughing.  Mealtimes have all but lost their structure because they spend so much time making silly faces at one another while their taters get cold.    Our parenting skills are being tested because it's so difficult to discipline when the parents are using every bit of our will power to keep from laughing with them.  I have to tell myself "stop laughing this is NOT funny", but their laughter makes it even more humorous.

I'm not complaining one bit though.  These challenges are minuscule and petty compared to what other parents have to face.  We are blessed beyond belief to have such happy and healthy kids adding joy daily to our lives.  I'm grateful every day.  Part of my blogging desires come from my core belief of never taking these blessings for granted and wanting to share them with you.

See you soon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Limbo... Still.

Hello friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are spending more and more time in our new neighborhood with each passing day.  We are approaching the "big switch" day targeted for November 21st where we stay the night for the first time.  Easton and Layla are feeling more and more comfortable with the idea of moving.  We walked through the gate in our backyard to the greenbelt.  This is where the twins will play because our yard is entirely rocks and cacti.

It's the best of both worlds!  We don't have to mow the yard, but still get the benefits of playing in a big open field of grass.  I can't wait...

From the picture above of the greenbelt if I turn around, the view I see of the neighborhood park is this:

Even though it isn't as elaborate as our old neighborhood park at least it is close enough we can walk to it.  This is also the same park where Easton took The Big Fall exactly two years ago today.  Life sure has a funny way of working out and I never would have guessed back then we would live in this neighborhood.  This is how I know God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us.

Layla has a Disney princess coat with pink buttons and Easton has a blue Lightening McQueen coat.  Their preferences in colors haven't changed since birth.  Although I will say Easton has taken a liking to red because Lightening McQueen is red.

The 4 Webbs dined on the outdoor patio of P.F. Chang's in T-shirts .  Well, except Layla who wore her princess attire.  They both shine so brightly that we constantly get smiles attention even though they are 3 years old and not babies anymore.  They shine in spite of the chocolate covered faces.

Layla dropped her fork so I gave her mine and used the handy chopsticks.  Hey, it was a Chinese bistro! I wouldn't let a lack of utensils stand between me and cake!

Christmas is coming quickly.  All I want for Christmas is...  to finish the remodel and get into our house.  Possibly a gift card to Lowe's or something since we go there DAILY.  :)

See you soon!