Thursday, May 29, 2014

Headed up North

Greetings friends and family,

I'm a little behind on posts lately because of the week of adjustment in Sacramento, but i'll get caught up in the next few days because I have virtually nothing on the agenda.  This will be the first Friday, Saturday, Sunday, together as a family, in months that we have zero scheduled activities.  I've never been so excited to do nothing before.

OK, so back to our space shuttle trip to the California Science Center.  We closed the place down and headed for the Hilton Checkers.  We chose this hotel because it is 10 minutes of the highway and 10 minutes from the space shuttle.  It was also the cheapest hotel we could find with two queen size beds!  I had no idea it would be so difficult to find a room with two queens.  For our purposes it was the only option because Kendra and I can't share a twin and we weren't about to splurge for two rooms and leave the twins in their own separate room.  We had a blast downtown.  We walked to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner and back.  Then the rest of our evening was just a wind-down from the day and getting the twins to go to sleep. Kendra and I were so wiped out that we went straight to sleep after they did.

Guess who woke up at six-o-crack in the morning?  Easton, of course.  We had breakfast delivered by room service.  This was a first for Easton and Layla.  They were blown away by the idea that you can call the hotel and they bring your food right inside your room.  This alone was an experience they'll never forget.

We slowly made our way to the car for the second leg of our trip to Sacramento.  Remind me to never travel on Memorial Day weekend again.  Traffic was stressful, but uneventful.  The battle wagon was roomy, comfortable, and speedy.  We've made this trip about 20 times.  This was the first trip with our minivan.  It was a whole new level of comfort.

The very next day we were at a birthday party of Kendra's friend's kids.  No need to wait around for moss to grow under our feet, right?  The pool was a bit colder than the one we left in Phoenix, but we were lucky to hit an unseasonably hot streak in Sacramento.  The warm day made for a refreshing swim.

The twins jumped right in with their old pals.  I wasn't concerned about them in the social situation, but I was happy to see their friends received them right into the pack of kids.

No.  just....  no.

Kendra is more than welcome to hold a baby anytime she likes.  Neither of us have those feelings of "you know it would be so wonderful to have another baby."  We are perfectly happy with the 4 Webbs and have no desire to expand our family.

On the way home from the birthday party we saw a squirrel, a dear, and 8 wild turkeys.  Easton was shocked.  he kept asking, "are there really wild turkeys in California?"

From the second we walked in the door of Ouma and Oupa's house, it's been all about them for the twins.  That's perfectly fine by us!  One of the things we wanted to quickly jump into was riding bikes.  The ones Oupa got for them are the right size, unlike the bikes for Layla Easton we have at home that are one size too big.  Kendra and Dad took the twins to a local park for some lessons.  Step 1: learn to push your own bike up the hill.

Step 2: have some fun while you're at it!  This isn't supposed to be scary or sad.

Step 3: get up some speed and go, go go!

Since I wasn't there I can't speak to the details of their biking adventures, but they considered it to be a successful first time out.  I'm planning to be there for the weekend lessons to get a first-hand account of their riding.

We also met for a lunch time gathering of Kendra's friends at a local park.  I brought my camera, but was not much in the picture taking mood because I was busy sitting around doing nothing.  Kendra and I mingled with the dozens of friends in this big circle of relationships.  The twins were off playing in the playground and running around.  Every day that goes by is another level of independence.  Kendra and I don't hover over the twins and bark orders about not eating dirt or how to treat a friend.  We're pretty much done with that stage and it feels good.  One parent of a two-year-old had to sprint towards the street as the little one had wandered too close to the edge of the park.  In that moment I realized how far we've come as the twins are getting older.

The most interesting thing that happened was Easton finding a frog.  he showed all the other kids and eventually let one little girl have it.

There are no frogs at the parks in Phoenix.  At least, not the ones we go to and not this time of year.  Well, I'm off to wrap up my work week so I can get back to having fun with the whole family.

See you soon!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Space Shuttle Endeavor

Greetings friends and family,

We are safe in Sacramento and in full vacation mode.  Here's proof.  We are alone on the outdoor patio of Starbucks.  No kids, just the two of us sitting and talking over some coffee.  This is the first vacation moment we've had in a long time.  Date night occasionally is great, but slipping into vacation mode is a whole different mindset.

Let me back up a few days.  Kendra and I drove the twins to their last day of kindergarten on Thursday morning.  It was a much bigger deal for us than for them.  I made them stand outside the car before running towards their group of friends.  I am stunned to think Easton and Layla are first graders.  No matter how we respond to these events, time marches on.

Kendra brought a few new clothes for the kids because they keep growing.  Easton came running up to me and pointed out the man in a space suit.  Of all the careers and hobbies represented, including a pirate, rock star, and skier, Easton was super excited about the space man.  He had no idea at this time what we had in store for him this weekend.

We loaded up the minivan and headed out bright and early Friday morning.  Easton and Layla had their first ipod experience.  They could each listen to their own music and control which song to play.  The experience was freeing for them and provided an hour or two of quiet time in the car for Kendra and I to talk.

layla provided a background vocal track for us as she sang her way through the Frozen soundtrack.  She said, "who put these songs on here?"  I smiled proudly and gave her that loving look as she realized it was me.  Daddy takes care of his princess.

A few months ago i searched the internet to find the final resting place of the existing space shuttles.  I saw this Endeavor was in L.A. only a few minutes off the highway from where we drive by on our trip to Sacramento.

We arrived in Los Angeles at the California Science Center on time and in one piece.  Against all odds of crazy holiday weekend travelers we did well.  The twins were running up and down the sidewalk working out 6 hours of energy.  We passed by a mounted Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.  I asked Easton if he wants to fly one someday.  He said, "No thanks, I'd rather fly a space shuttle."

Our discussions over the past few days were geared towards watching the Imax version of the Hubble 3D.

We were among the first people in the massive theater so we found the premium seats in the middle of the middle row.  The Webbs see things differently than other people.  I wonder why?

The 3D aspect was humorous to watch because the twins kept reaching out to grab the stars and space equipment.  The movie was awesome.  They both said this was their favorite movie experience ever.  The 3D glasses are ridiculous looking, but we know better than to care what people think.

Lunch was uneventful other than the fact we ate our bland sandwiches with real satellites suspended above our heads!  Easton was calling out the names of each one and realizing there are many he has never heard of.

While waiting for the indoor events we played in the outdoor area.  The overcast, cool afternoon was a welcomed reprieve from the hot AZ sun of the past few weeks.  They were a little chilly at one point and we were perfectly happy with that.

The sculptures were all kid-friendly.  Otherwise it would be torture for the hundreds of kids milling around.  We were surrounded by many school groups, but held hands while wading through the waves of kids.  There are many favorite pictures from our fun day together, but this is one of my favorites because it shows their personalities and cuteness even through the sun-induced eye squinting.

and no outdoor fun is complete without playing chase.  Best friends at their best.

The inside of the atrium is filled with gold ornaments hanging down on strings.  We had almost as much fun playing around outside together as we did inside the science center.

After the Imax movie we headed for the real reason for the trip.  to see the space shuttle.  On the way through the cattle lines we passed a flight simulator.  Easton wanted to go, but Layla didn't.  She happily stood outside watching while Easton climbed inside with 5 strangers.  During the 7 minute simulation he experienced a take off, orbit of the Earth, and landing.

Then we walked into the building where the actual space shuttle Endeavor resides.  It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but seeing this massive piece of technology and history was overwhelming.  No matter what else we experience for the rest of our summer, this will be the time-marker we refer to.  We'll say something like, "Oh yeah, you mean the summer saw the space shuttle?" and all of us will nod our heads.

The one moment of the Los Angeles experience I wanted to capture was Easton's first sight of the space shuttle.

After several minutes of Easton looking at the space shuttle I convinced him to let me take a picture of us with the rocket powered bird behind us.

This may be the closest Easton ever gets to space travel.  Or maybe not.  That's not for me to decide, but his passion for space is obvious in every aspect of his thoughts, creativity, desires, and motivation.  He was only inches away from one of the few spacecrafts that did what he dreams about.

The stand-alone engine shows the magnitude of the pieces that make up the gigantic shuttle.  It's tough to see the length at this angle, but I was impressed with the huge size of the rockets.

Easton left with a couple of souvenirs.  I wanted to get him a shirt.  Even though it will deteriorate over time and he'll grow out of it, I still want him to have something to wear as a proof of his experience.  Sometimes I have to tell Easton to smile, but this picture shows a genuine happy smile.  

The one other gift we bought him was a space shuttle toy.  Buying a toy off Amazon and having it shipped to our house is great, but buying a space shuttle at the actual space shuttle is a whole new level of awesomeness.

The oddest thing about the space shuttle was the archaic appearance.  I couldn't believe how ancient the whole thing looked.  I expected something more majestic, but instead I just shook my head in disbelief about how something so old unsophisticated could take astronauts to space and back so many times.  Even though we made this stop for Easton's benefit I enjoyed the whole day.  We all did.

After the space exhibit we wandered through the rest of the science center.  Easton and Layla's school ended the year with learning about ocean life.  Because of that focus, Layla was jazzed about all the ocean exhibits.  this sea bass came right up to the window to see us.

The tank full of touchable animals was Layla's highlight of the day.  She touched hermit crabs, anemone, sea cucumbers, and some other lively creatures.  

And of course, the starfish.  We spent several minutes watching the starfish slowly crawl around the tank.  easton asked, "what do you think they are thinking?"

Easton's favorite animal was the shark seen here stalking us through the glass.

The space capsules encased in plastic allowed us to get up close and see a high level of detail.  These things fell through Earth's atmosphere at 2,000 mph and safely delivered astronauts home.  I have a new appreciation for those crazy men and women who strapped themselves to rockets and then crammed themselves into these tiny capsules to get home.  that's crazy.

The viking lander caught Easton's attention because he is convinced he is going to Mars.  The Mars background is appealing to him for some reason.  Should I tell him he probably won't go Mars?  No!  I would never throw water on his dreams even if his odds of going are one in a billion.  I've thought about my responsibility as a parent and believe it is my job to help him get where he wants to go in life even if that destination is Mars.  Going to the moon is not what he dreams about.  That's already been done and he believes that is easy.  His sights are set a few million miles further...  Maybe he will go to Mars one day and maybe he won't but I would never want my words to discourage his ambitions.

What an incredibly memorable and fantastic day!  

See you soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Great Grandparents are Grand

Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are in a mad dash to the end of this week so we can get the summer started.  Before I get to the week's excitement, I want to give a summary of Easton and Layla's family tree.  They have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, and 4 great grandparents.  The grandparents are well known here on the blog, but I want to explain the additional generation of their lineage.

Kendra's mom, Ouma, is the daughter of Pudge and Ellie Swingle. Ellie is known as GG to us and the twins.  We are grateful she has been a part of their lives since they were born.  This is a picture from last summer of GG watching intently as the twins show off their pool jumping skills.  We are all giddy waiting for the next few days to go by so we can all hang out again together.

Kendra's Dad's parents, Avon and Don are both alive and well.  I found this picture on another family member's page and chose it because it's recent and shows the two of them together.  The other pictures I have of them are from Bree and Logan's wedding, but I didn't get a picture of the two of them together.  Anyway, we are very blessed to spend time with Kendra's grandparents and I'm happy the twins know them.  It's rare to have 4 generations of lineage and I recognize the value of the twins spending time with the blood relatives they came from.

On my side of the family, my Dad's parents have both passed away.  The twins never knew either of them, but then again I didn't know them very well either.  The first funeral I ever remember attending was my grandfather's.

My mom's mom passed away 13 years ago so the twins didn't know her.  Mom's dad, John, is still alive at age 96 in a nursing home.  He suffers from memory loss and has for the past few years.  I would have liked for the twins to meet him, but that is just not meant to be.

This summer is going to be filled with quality and quantity of time with Easton and Layla's grandparents.  The entire summer...  We've been waiting for tomorrow since January 1 of this year.  The reason is because we know school is over, our vacation will begin, and we get to disconnect from the church world and all responsibilities of life in AZ.  I am more excited to go to Sacramento than any year in our 12 years of marriage.

This week flew by because I've had my nose to the grindstone for work and also coordinating the pool plumbing repair ($600) and installation of all-new sprinkler lines in our front and back yard.  Another $3,500 thrown into the moneypit.  I'm almost convinced we'll have a brand new house except for the studs in the wall by next year because of all the home repair and replacement.  Even with all the extra costs I'm still grateful to have such a functional house.  It is a blessing, for sure.  We are using the house to its full potential as an entertainment party pad.  That makes it worthwhile.  We've been having families over for dinner, church leadership meetings, and lots of single young adults pass through our "house of healing" as we call it.

Kendra and Layla were in the kitchen baking something delicious.  I couldn't help but notice the cute aprons and similarity of smiles.  The twins are at that in-between stage where they are getting too big to hold like toddlers, but they are too short stand  eye-to-eye.  So we use a chair!

This week has been all work and no play because of the ridiculous amount of work required to get ready to travel.  I was able to squeeze in a trip to the duck park between work and dinner.  It's already hot, but the ducks don't care.  they still eat our stale bread.  layla's highlight was seeing the baby ducks.  She goes ga-ga over little baby anythings.  especially furry little ducks.  They ate well, thanks to layla.

Easton was more impressed with the little fish that swirled the water as they ate the bread.  He was out over his tippy toes a couple of times at the edge of the water and almost fell in.  He was so intrigued by the fish.

Friday will probably be the best day of Easton's life.   We have a huge surprise in store for him and can't wait to have some serious adventures he'll never forget.

See you soon!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

4 Days of Kindergarten Left!

Greetings friends and family,

And the countdown is on...  4 more school days left in kindergarten.  That blows my mind to think i'll never go through kindergarten again with my child.  There are two sides to every coin and the blessing of only having to go through each stage once is also the realization that I only get to go through each stage once!

during conversations with Easton or Layla, Kendra and I look at each other daily and giggle.  We are both thinking, without saying a word, "can you believe the grown up mannerisms and deep sentences coming out of our kid's mouth?"  They are so much fun and I am humbled daily when I think of the pleasure it is to parent these two.

Their friend Kayla came over because her parents wanted to go see a non-animated movie.  We've asked them to watch the twins a few times before as well so this give and take "free" baby sitting is working out very well.  I've been wanting to do this for years, but it takes a while to develop strong enough friendships that you can just dump your kid(s) off at their house and go do something.

Anyway, I walked with them to the playground during the hot, twilight hour.  It was toasty, but they didn't care.  As you can see they are all smiles just having a ball being kids.  I'm relieved at their social skills and kind-hearted nature.

Kendra took the twins to the mall while I facilitated a men's mentoring group at our house.  Kendra had her purse ready to go and Layla strapped hers on the same way.  kendra told Layla her bag was too big, but I giggled when I noticed it was the pot calling the kettle black.  The apple doesn't fall far from the fashion tree, does it.

When I took Layla out for a daddy date she let me help her pick out the outfit.  We found a dress that matches her bag along with the headband and even shoes.  She was stylin' and proud of it.  Pink all the things!

Kendra and I both noticed the same list of chores on a friend's facebook post.  It caught my attention because I'm always interested in seeing process laid out.  This seems like a good list of chores for kids of each age.  I know it isn't perfect or a complete list, but it's nice to have this as a template to modify and put into  practice.

I shouldn't be bothered, but I am, when people post things on Facebook that are great ideas or meaningful quotes, but then... nothing.  i see their life, their kitchen, their reactions, and it doesn't line up with what they gleefully cheered on their posts.  I'm just not like that, which seems to be abnormal.  I'm OK with abnormal.  I want to see a list like this and not only think it's a great idea, but actually do something with it.  Even if doing something is just giving it the ole' college try to see how it plays out.  what's the worst that could happen?

I noticed things were too quiet, if you know what I mean.  Instead of yelling through the house I decided to go see what uno and dos were up to.  I heard their voices and found them sitting on top of the library book bag by the front door.  They were squeezed into this little spot taking turns reading.  This brotherly and sisterly love makes my heart happy because I didn't have to tell them what to do.  they just naturally play with each other and include one another in whatever playtime they have.  Layla plays legos with Easton and Easton plays kitchen and puppies with Layla.

At bedtime Layla asked if she could carry her baby to bed when i carry her to bed.  As we prepared her bed for sleepy time Layla put her twins in their bassinet right by her pillow.  She's going to make a wonderful mother someday and I hope she gets to experience having twins.  :)

We are all giddy like kids on Christmas eve because school is almost over and that means summer fun is almost here.  Our entire summer is planned out with 4 days between the time our adventures are over and the first day of first grade for the twins.  It'll be a whirlwind, but I can't wait to have big stretches of family time with the 4 Webbs and our family.

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

She's Home

Greetings friends and family,

Peace is restored to the kingdom.  Of all the pictures from my Daddy week with the twins, this one is my favorite of all.  See that white circle hovering over the airport?

That is Kendra's phone responding with location information indicating she landed at the Phoenix airport.  Her anticipated arrival time of 6:20 PM was close... She was only late by FIVE hours.  Thanks, Southwest airlines.  Thanks a lot.  Her flight was cancelled, then she arrived in San Diego to find out she missed her connecting flight and then her next flight was delayed.  more drama, blah, blah and then...  She's home!

We are seriously limiting the twin's dessert times and sugar intake, but once in a while we splurge.  After eating healthy turkey sandwiches at Firehouse Subs (again this week) we walked next door to Culver's where Easton made a complete mess of his mint oreo ice cream cookie.  I'm considering this for his high school year book picture.  The chocolate smile...

Before Kendra arrived home we had one last day of the "work and school" routine.  I picked them up and went straight to the library because I received an overdue notice.  Do you know how much a single day overdue is for 35 books?  $17.50.  Ouch.  I paid the fine and we headed off to the books. I said, "you can get whatever books you want as long as they fit in the book bag."  Layla went to the I Can Read book section and chose several level 2 books to fit her current reading level.  Easton walked past the kids section straight to the adult science section.  He came to me with this massive book about the universe and asked kindly if he can get it.  Why, yes.  Yes you can.      

He also grabbed everything about planets he could get his hands on until I called it quits because the library bag was screaming at the seams for mercy.  On our way out the door Layla said, in a not-so-quiet voice, "why are people in the library so quiet?  This place could use some sunshine and dancing!"  people close by did their best to hold in the laughter, but I heard a few chuckles.

At home they did the bed time routine before dinner so we could have plenty of playtime all the way up until the last minute.  I allowed them to make dinner with me.  They came alive in the kitchen as chefs.

We made mini-pizzas from biscuits, pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni.  I even let them roll out their own dough.

We learned that coconut flour is NOT the same as regular flour.  I also used too much of it so the pizzas were close to disgusting, but at least they were almost tolerable.  I took a picture of the three of us as we trashed the kitchen one last time before Kendra came home.

Overall the Daddy week was as successful as I'd hoped.  No lives were lost.  I wouldn't call it "epic", but we had many bonding moments together and lots of quality time doing normal day to day life.  They said they missed Mommy several times per day and I agreed.  I'm just as happy for Kendra to have the time away from the day to day as I am about the chance to have real one-on-two time with them.  Kendra was content with the cleanliness of the house even though the floors were a little crunchy and dirty.  She can never leave us for 7 days in a row again.  Just kidding.  kind of.

See you soon!