Friday, March 29, 2013

Game Night Coming Soon

Greetings friends and family,

Another week closer to the longest vacation of my life and we're sprinting to the finish.  The progress is most notable in our garage.  We've lived here for over a year and until last week we only made enough room in the four-car garage for one car to park.  I know, it's almost silly to think we are that unorganized and lazy to have such a problem months after moving into the house.  No matter, it is what it is and Kendra completed her refinishing job on the filing cabinet which we use as a night stand.  My goal this week is to do a home makeover comparison between the original pictures I took when we moved in and the latest and greatest.  Kendra did several projects to use what we had available to furnish the rooms.  Anyway, just planning and setting the stage for the next few days.

We are eeking out the last bits of spring weather by taking daily trips to the variety of parks nearby.

Easton's measure of my success as a father is based on whether I play with them at the park or not.  Occasionally I'll just let them interact with other kids and only jump in as referee when strange boys throw sand in their hair.  The twins much prefer when I play chase or Star Wars with them on the playground equipment though.

They can read!  The first book they learned to sight read is Hop on Pop.  That's a peculiar coincidence because they regularly  hop on pop for real as we rough-house and wrestle.  I keep trying to capture that in a picture or video, but it's difficult to film or photograph when the two spider monkeys are jumping from the top ropes of the couch and kneeing me in the stomach.  They are both very proud of their accomplishment as readers and we are even more proud because they achieved this (small) milestone so early in life.

Part of the reason they love to read so much is because all do it so often.  By we I mean Kendra, me, and everybody else who hangs out at our house for any length of time.  Matthew came over for an evening to hang out with us for dinner.  As we were preparing the meal he helped calm the twins down for dinner time by reading the next chapter in Peter Pan.

Did you know Wendy get's shot with an arrow and falls to the ground?  The movie doesn't show that, but the book does!

Easton isn't very excited to be on video so it's a rare occasion for him to perform, so to speak.  I captured this short clip of his Hop on Pop reading.

Layla has always been the creative type who loves to be called a great artist.  She beams with pride when I compliment her drawing abilities.  Her face looks a little less excited in the picture than she had in the moment because the sun was in her eyes.  I was impressed with her flower and the colors.  She's already a better artist than me!  I know that's not saying much, but I'm continually surprised by how creative she thinks and how well she's able to put the ideas on paper (or cement).

Unlike Easton, Layla loves to be on video.  She performed an improvisational dance to the Thomas O'Malley Cat song from Aristocats.  I'm absolutely certain this video will show up during her high school years.  She's awesome for so many reasons.  I stopped counting long ago...

Easton's interest in aerospace and flying things continues to increase.  He got introduced to Legos over the past few months and now he's able to follow instructions fairly well and build his own flying machines.

Easter is here and nothing makes Easton's day more than a postal-delivered card and chocolate.  He asked me to read it to him several times.  I could tell he was doing his best to memorize the words so he could sight read it.

I surprised the twins with a new game.  One that shaped almost all of our generation X lives... Uno!  Come to find out, they already knew how to play from the church kids.  We also added Candyland to our repertoire of household games.  The official game night at the 4 Webb's house has yet to be declared, but soon we will have a weekly night dedicated to teaching (appropriate) competition, how to win gracefully (ahem, Layla) and lessons about how life isn't always fair or about winning.  Let the indoor games begin!

My mentoring group of 5 guys is going very well and we are through two month's worth of interactions, Bible memorization, book reading, and communication.  The next book is already loaded into the Kindle and the spine is broken, digitally speaking.

I'm only in the first chapter, but I can already tell this is going to be right up my alley.  My favorite chapter 1 quote is:  to the degree you face and name and deal with your failures as a leader, to that same extent you will create an environment conducive to growing and retaining productive and committed colleagues.

What has two thumbs and a permit to carry a concealed weapon?  This guy.

Yep, the state of Arizona has one less gun-ignorant citizen.  Now I know the laws for, proper handling of, and different types of guns.  I love this state.  Castle Doctrine is awesome.  I had a friend of mine send me a message as a result of my Facebook post about the gun safety class.  He asked, "Do you think Jesus would carry a gun?"  Ummmm...  I don't even know where to begin to address this level of stupidity.  So I didn't.  I learned a while ago that it's not my job to criticize others or change their minds about anything.  I resigned that job and gave it back to the rightful owner in Heaven.

Kendra is scheduled to attend next week's class and I'm looking forward to her feeling more comfortable about having a gun in the house.

See you soon!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why I Chose Mommy

Greetings friends and family,

Disneyland tickets, Disneyland hotel accommodations, and our flight to the mid-west are all purchased!  Even though we've been saving up for 5 years to experience the vacation of a lifetime it was still difficult to pull that many dollar bills out of my miserly hands.  After I grieved parting with such a large chunk of change I slowly came around to be giddy as a school boy for what's on the horizon.  I'm 32 days away from taking my 10 week sabbatical vacation.  My desire to finish strong at work over the next few weeks is devolving quickly into an I don't care anymore attitude.  Pray for my strength and focus to see this work stuff through to the end.

I don't have too many new pictures, but our friend Betty has a bunch to give me from her and her daughter's time with Kendra and the twins.  Betty and her family have become good friends with the 4 Webbs and I'm excited to have them be a part of our lives more.  Betty and her teenage daughter, Mariah, joined the two of us to see Phil Wickham in concert.  He was only on stage for about 45 minutes, but the evening was worth the pricey tickets just to enjoy his music live and be with Kendra.  

I'm taking more video clips lately just for fun.  I captured this two minute clip of my conversation with the twins.  The topic began with Easton asked why I chose Kendra as my wife.  He said, "Why did you pick Mommy?"  aaaaaaand go:

There are so many reasons I chose Kendra as my wife.  Her beliefs and mine are the same in every way.  And by that I mean much more than just we are of the same religion or have the same background.  We literally agree on every point of every scripture in the Bible.  We are in agreement.  That power is one of the biggest boosts to our marriage and to each other individually.  It's very refreshing for us to get beyond petty arguing over convictions or principles to a place where we can link arms and take on the world together.  She is becoming my best friend more day by day and I'm thankful for all of her qualities.

One silly day as we were hanging around at home together I put Layla on my back and spun around in our living room really fast while capturing a selfie.  I am becoming less serious every day thanks to Easton and Layla's fun personalities.

This past week was very long M-F because I had lots of work while Kendra manned the house and taught school.  Even so, she was willing to let me take a trip to Sedona on Saturday to ride with my new friend Bob.  Bob is a guy from church who rides lightening fast.  So fast that it motivates me to ride better.  We rode for two hours and 30 minutes.  My legs and lungs and heart really had a big work out!

Layla is fair skinned as you can tell by the picture.  I think that's because she is part Native American Indian (from me) and part angel...  what.  have you ever seen a dark skinned angel?  just sayin.

Will is fitting into our family well on his two days per week with us.  Kendra seems to be doing a good job of teaching while not losing focus on the twins.  He's a good kid, but it's amazing how much easier it have patience with my own kids more than another.

Easton and Layla decided to do my hair up in bows.  The two of them clipped and poked every bow in Layla's collection to my head.  I sat there patiently waiting for their imaginative work of living art.  Wow, I look old and scary...  One of the many reasons I enjoy being with the twins is that they could care less how I look or what condition I'm in.  Their unconditional love for me is amazingly fulfilling.

I shaved my beard off again (you're welcome, Mom) and got a refill on my contact prescription so I'm on my way to a decent make-over.

See you soon!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tomatoes and Bells

Greetings friends and family,

The video of our "Power of Safety" message is online now so let me know if you want the URL. Our friend Betty and her daughter took several pics of us and I'm really glad she was able to capture the occasion.

When you teach, you learn.  That's the best result from our many hours of preparation and research and quality time together.  The response of people coming forward at the end to receive prayer and talk with us was overwhelming.  We spent the entire next week fielding phone calls, texts, and emails from people who are in the situation we were in.  The short version is that we are a miracle.  Our fulfillment of our marriage and family is only possible because of what God did through us and for us.

OK, so what's this have to do with the adventures with twins?  Well, the main thing the concept of "safe relationships" produced was a safe household.  By safe I mean a place where:

- Basic needs are met
- Love is given and received
- A person can grow towards maturity
- trust is given and received
- freedom to serve others
- emotions can be expressed
- relationships grow strong and healthy

Sounds like a great environment to raise kids for greatness, right?   The best part is that we don't have to be perfect, but we do have to work on this daily and learn from our mistakes.  Speaking of raising, guess who has tomato plants growing?   These two...

We water every day and just like the instructions said "after 7-10 days" we see the sprouts coming up.  Easton and Layla are amazed each time we go out by how quickly they are growing.  I got the idea from their green-thumb cousin farmer, Silas.

Easton has been chomping at the bit to get on the trail-a-bike with me.  He wanted to go straight to South Mountain to do some serious mountain biking, but I yielded to Kendra's advice and took him for a ride on the dirt path by the canal.  He was expressively cheering and screaming the whole time we rode.  The reward for his good riding skills was to share a frosty at Wendy's.  I told him to give his tough-guy look. After I took the picture he said, "I don't have a tough guy look!"  That's fine with me.

These are special bell flowers that bloom in our backyard. These are Layla's favorite of all the growing things in our yard.  She picks them off one by one, smells them, and gives them to me to put in my pocket.  I have the best smelling pink pockets of anybody thanks to this little girl.

She strolled into the den waiting on me to notice her.  As I looked up from my computer and placed it aside we had a lengthy conversation about here three babies.  That's right, she has triplets.  :)  I tell her regularly how wonderful of a mother she will be some day.  Some day far, far, far in the future because I just can't fathom the idea that Layla will ever not be in our house.

Easton and Layla are the perfect age right now.  My limited view on raising children suggests that probably age 5-7 will be the best years of parenting and then things will get a little more difficult.  Although with the right attitude and perspective every year will be delightful in its own way.

See you soon!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ready to Bike

Greetings friends and family,

I'm a Craigslist fanatic.  Easton and Layla are not interested in riding their bikes without training wheels.  I read somewhere not to force the issue, but I really want to get some more serious riding in with the twins.  The best option I could find was the Adams Trail-a-bike.  Retails for $225, but I'm not about to spend that kind of money for a one-wheel heavy trailer.  I searched on Craigslist for a few weeks and found a deal.  $50 for a used one that was in brand new condition except the hitch was missing.  I bought it and had the $20 part shipped to my house. Ta-da!

Easton was raring to go as soon as I clipped it on my bike.  Layla took some convincing, but once Easton excited screamed about how awesome it is, she was willing to give it a try. She said, "I'm a little nervous so stay on the sidewalk, OK?" 

Easton wanted another turn around the neighborhood.  I think he's a mountain biker in the making. 

I can tell we're going to get plenty of use from the trailer.  I'm relieved we got such a good deal because after a couple of years of use I'll be able to sell it and make a few bucks.  I inherited a little bit of the Webb wheelin' and dealin' gene, but i'll never get to the level of my Dad. 

Easton's first sleep over was a success for him and for the other three Webbs. We slept in on Saturday morning because Easton wasn't there to be our first alarm clock at 7:15.  Talk about a major victory!  I took Layla for a Daddy date first thing after we woke up.  We rode to the local grocer where they have an outdoor eating area.  I brought a backpack full of breakfast and we shared a meal while enjoying the lovely outdoors.  She screamed with joy as we rode quickly down the path.  That was by far the fastest she's ever been on two wheels, but she's brave.

We were singing together and telling jokes back and forth.  A group of snowbird ladies from Kansas stopped by and struck up a conversation with us.  They said she was delightful and they were impressed with how sweet she is.  That's not just a proud Dad saying it!  A group of random ladies thought so much of her that they felt the need to stop by and brag on her themselves.

Easton's sleepover was successful because he didn't get injured and he had a blast.  His friend's dad said they stayed up late and wore each other out all morning playing.

He took a nap this afternoon, which is extremely rare.  Even more odd was that he came into my room as I was posting stuff to sale on Craigslist.  He climbed up into my lap and just laid there comfortably.  I asked if he wanted to have some quiet time in my bed and he immediately walked over and crashed on my bed.

A few nights ago my longing for a fresh Krispy Kreme doughnut became so great that I packed up the twins and Kyle and drove 20 minutes to the closest one.  Easton likes Oreos almost as much as me so he chose the Oreo one straight away.

The hot, fresh light was on so we indulged in the cakey goodness.  Layla asked to wear her bridal veil and princess dress and princess shoes.  Everybody enjoyed her grand entrance to the store.  She won over the hearts of the cashier ladies and they gave us two fresh, free glazed doughnuts.

My craving is satisfied for another few months now.  I'm starting to get revved up for Andy's frozen custard in Missouri when we travel there this summer.  mmmm...  my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

See you soon!

Friday, March 15, 2013

The New Kid

Hello friends and family,

Tonight is a big step in our parenting world.  Easton is staying the night at his friends house.  alone.  without me.  I know...  it's not THAT big of a deal, but I'm having the hardest time accepting the fact that Easton is self-sufficient enough to spend the night somewhere else.  His friend's family is one I trust completely since they are good personal friends of ours.  It's not an issue of trust.  It's just me struggling to let go of the bedtime routine and the healthy interdependent relationship we have.

Kendra and I took Layla to the mall for some alone time with just us.  We gave her a few options and said, "we can do anything you want tonight!"  She requested a trip to mall for a cruise through the Disney store, a pretzel with cheese, and swinging from our arms as we gallop down the halls.  During the short drive to the mall Layla had a frown and furrowed brow.  She stared sadly at the seat where Easton's car seat usually stays.  She said, "I miss Easton."  After arrived at the mall everything turned bright and sunny for her attitude.  After dinner she said, "this is the best day EVER!"  My, how quickly her mood changes.  All I do is love her through it and encourage her when she's down.

Will, the part-time student staying at our house, is getting acclimated to the Webb academy of education. Easton is happy to have him around (most of the time) and he's fitting in well.

I mean, really well.  Book time dressed as superheros is extra adventurous when Kendra adds her spirited acting skills while narrating the stories.

Having Will at our house is really good for Layla because she's learning to do her own thing once in a while.  She's such a social butterfly and leader by nature, but it's good for her to sometimes follow and sometimes do her own thing.

During Easton's first year on Earth I took a picture of him wearing my Lakers jersey (Sorry GG).  I didn't plan on it being a yearly thing, but here it is:

He wasn't and isn't the least bit interested in watching basketball, but he's a good cuddle bug even when he was still a one-year-old.  Not yet able to walk masterfully so I had to get this picture just hanging out sitting on my lap.

When he was two he was stable enough to stand and take the picture in the jersey, but still couldn't see his toes under the extra long length.

At three he was starting to get the hang of wearing Daddy's baggy shirt around the house.

By age four he's able to recognize the Lakers logo and knows basketball is a sport.

Now at age 5 he has his own kid's goal in the back yard and likes to make baskets.  I think he may be onto something here, but it's still to early to know if he'll be tall enough to be competitive.  or if he'll even care enough about sports to have a competitive spirit.  Either way, he's growing into my jersey nicely and I'm proud of his progress.

I found another Discovery Kids Fort set (on clearance at Khol's for $12) to make an uber fort in the great room.  I made a sturdy play structure for the twins to play in and it has held up relatively well.  Our friend Matthew came over to have dinner and ended up in the middle of a Star Wars ambush.

He's a good friend and loves to hang out with the 4 Webbs.  He sure knows how to get involved!

Every day Easton and Layla ask me "is this a work day?"  and I give them the count down for the week.  Well, now that the weekend is here it's time to play!

See you soon.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Preachers and Farmers

Greetings friends and family,

For the past two weeks the 4 Webbs were on full isolation lock down from the outside world.  Easton and Layla were still our top priority, but from 8-11 almost every night (and several hours on some days) we were preparing for our first attempt at preaching a full sermon.  OK, maybe not so much preaching as it was teaching and not so much a sermon as it was a testimony of our marriage.  At any rate, we sacrificed TV, household chores, friends, dates, book time, alone time, and gym time. This was the largest collaborative effort Kendra and I have ever undertaken.  An unexpected joy that I received from our message was how great it was to have Kendra's undivided attention for so many minutes at a time.  She was probably tired of me, but I loved every minute of it.

I'm proud to proclaim, "We did it!" and we did it well, with excellence.  The preparation, teamwork, delivery, and results were nothing less than amazing.

The twins survived double church class without any hiccups.  They've never had to be there for two services in a row.  We weren't concerned about it, but they did really well with spending almost 5 hours inside a classroom.  Especially considering the weather is perfect today.

So after the fanfare of our incredible morning, I offered Easton and Layla an option of going to watch our friend's son race on the BMX track or taking a hike.  They chose to head out for the mountains for a hike.

I'm happy to report we made it to the second peak and back to the car without a single injury.  Hooray for coordination and balance!

They were great hikers.  We talked with each and every person we passed or who passed us.  Who'd have thought hiking was a social event?  These two do...

Layla decided she wasn't interested in going to Home Depot for a tomato plant.  Easton and I dropped her off at home and went searching for the necessary components to produce our own tomatoes.  We had the pot already.  The only three things we needed were seeds, soil, and a cage.

Layla joined us two farmers in her princess gear and promised me she wouldn't get them dirty.  We added the rocks in the bottom, soil, and seeds one at a time.

Layla brought the watering can and we made the shift from pretend, imaginary gardening to "the real deal"!  We'll know in seven days whether we have green thumbs or just another pot of useless dirt.

Another shift from imagination to reality is makeup.  Layla rediscovered her cell phone makeup kit when I rescued it from the Pilot center console during a recent trip to the car wash.

I watched as she gently applied the gooey, brown chunk of mascara onto her half-closed eyelid.  Here she is squinting and asking if she looks good.  As always, I know how to respond...  Yes!  She's always asking, "Am I lovely?" and these are the moments when I have a chance to be her inner voice that will carry throughout her life.     

Kendra and I took a lunch break during our on-stage practice run.  We don't get many babysitting dates and it was difficult to consider that we could spend our entire window of opportunity on the stage at church.  We cashed in our Groupon for sushi with delicious raw fish.  yum.  We sat quietly a few minutes with our heads resting against each other and our eyes closed.  We were both so glad to have a few minutes of public alone time without the kids.

Another week in the books and another week closer to my sabbatical in less than 8 weeks!

See you soon.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Breakfast Boys

Greetings friends and family,

The twins have a new twice-weekly playmate.  We decided to take Will, their old class mate, into our house during the day for the next few months.  His Mom knows us well and wants will to be in a loving environment with schooling discipline.  Kendra believes she can maintain the same level of learning growth for the twins and bring Will up to speed as well.  The extra few hundred dollars per month will offset some of Obama's tax increase and help us stay above water between now and my sabbatical.

I told Easton and Layla we get 10 million pennies per year (just for round numbers sake) and they were blown away.  They must think we're the richest people in the world now.  It's extra entertaining to watch them divide up change from my pocket.  all coins are equal in their eyes and the ones with ridges must be worth more, right?

Easton made a special request to have some boy's time with just us two.  I told him if he woke me up early the next morning that we'd go to breakfast together.  Just like clockwork he gave me the nose-to-nose wake up at 7:15.  We loaded up the car still wearing our morning breath and drove to the local breakfast greasy spoon.  He wanted pancakes.  I wanted him to learn to use a knife.  We both won.

I've been stepping up the responsibility and risk taking slowly over the past few weeks.  I say something like, "You are five now and I know you can do it!"  They always prove me right and then act confidently proud as if they knew all along they could do it.

We ventured out beyond the greenbelt to the canal.  We saw big carp swimming, a couple of ducks landed in the water and seashells litter the edge for a few hundred yards.  We trotted along finding new things to investigate while joggers and bikers went by.  I put on Layla's Disney princess cape because they wanted me to be Darth Vader.  I also took the cap gun along because they wanted me to be Han Solo later.

The scene reenactments didn't take any audience into consideration.  The family that walked their dogs, the jogger, and the group of teenage boys all smiled and watched as they went by.  I don't mind wearing a pink cape or pretending to shoot the bad guys.

Having so much fun with Easton and Layla is worth way more than any pride I may feel to be "cool" to a bunch of strangers.  It's taken a long time for my imagination and play skills to come back, but luckily kids take a while to get to this stage of life. 

Kendra and I are still spending every single spare second working on our message for Sunday.  As I reflected last night on other collaborative efforts I realized this is the most intense team work we've ever shared in our history.  Spending one or two nights together on a home project or something is about the extent of our collaboration.  I'm enjoying this way more than I (or Kendra) thought I would.  It's nice to pull towards a common goal and work hard on something together.  

Only three more days until we get to share our story.  I'm not nervous about Kendra or how it will go.  My small amount of anxiety is because I understand the responsibility and magnitude of what we're taking on by standing in front of the church.   We're turning our marriage and struggles into an open book.  Vulnerability is scary, but without risk there is no reward.  

The greatest compliment we could receive is for someone to say they were encouraged and hopeful about their own life after hearing about ours.  

See you soon!