Sunday, June 29, 2014

Honk, Honk, Goose

Greetings friends and family,

Even 785 miles of distance between the 4 Webbs and home can't keep us from being drawn in by the birthday party black holes.  "Did you say swimming, pizza, cupcakes and kids?  Why, yes, we would love to be there for the party."  It's tough to turn down such an offer even with back-to-back days of the same format of a party.  We spent Friday evening at Aunt Joan's house with Ezra for his birthday, then Saturday lunch was with Isa and all the Mommy friends for her birthday.  Here's Ezra doing whatever he wants because it was his birthday.

There were only a few kids, which was nice because it was not so chaotic and the twins had two chances to smash the pinata.

A few parents directed comments towards Kendra and I about how we need to get Easton and Layla both into baseball.  Their stance, swing, and aggression were notable.

I missed Isa's party because I was getting the wart on my thumb blasted with liquid Nitrogen.  I've been to my dermatologist for the same treatment 8 times in the past 14 months with zero success of freezing that sucker off.  So I got a second opinion from a local dermatologist who basically did the same thing with more intensity, longer.  We'll see if the darn thing disappears finally or if my whole thumb falls off this time.

I had a couple of hours of Daddy time with the twins so that Kendra could hang out with Aunt Patty and GG for adult conversation.  Each day this week Easton has asked, "when will not have to go to work so you can play with us?"  They have a good understanding of the calendar and days, but it's still tough for them to understand how I work for five days then have two days off to play.

Anyway, I took them out for an afternoon river adventure.  We've been driving over Rainbow bridge since the twins were born.  We look down below and comment on the people playing in the river along the banks.  I decided it was finally time to stop spectating and start participating.  They strapped on their life jackets and we headed out for the river bank.  It took a van drive, a hike across the bridge, and maneuvering down the narrow, dusty path to the water's edge.  We scampered across the boulders to find a large rock where we could park our stuff.

I knew snack time would pop up while we were at the river.  I packed copious amounts of fruit, nuts, and grains along with some semi-healthy cheetoes.  We started eating and noticed a goose swimming towards us.  Easton and Layla flicked a few morsels of chips his way.  He was not shy at all.  he climbed right up next to us.

Then we noticed a gaggle of geese and some purple headed ducks migrating toward us.  It is tough to see how close they were to us in the pictures, but just to give some perspective, Easton was able to pet one without it even caring!  

Easton and Layla each had a goose eat from their hand.  Both of them had their fingers bit in the process, but the geese weren't being mean they were just trying to snap up the food.  Luckily, neither of them freaked out when it happened. I even had one take a chip hanging out of my mouth!  these were by far the friendliest geese I've ever seen.

The water was really cold.  Even though the air temperature was hot I spent 20 minutes convincing the twins to get in with me.  Once they were in we swam over to the rocks in the picture above.  We climbed out to the edge where the other 'big kids' were jumping off.  Layla wasn't interested in doing it, but Easton was.  He was super courageous and I was a proud dad.  He and I jumped off together and swam gave a primal scream of epic proportions.  Partially as an acknowledgement of our accomplishment and partially because the water was extra chilly.  I consider this to be our favorite memory maker of the week.  I know they will remember this outing for many years.  We had a great time together and it didn't cost a dime.

Just for kicks I'm adding a link to an article I find interesting.

Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD 

It draws a link between parenting methodology and ADHD.  I don't know that I completely believe the findings of the article, but it could provide some explanation.  It could be nature or nurture or a combination of both.  We don't have empirical evidence showing root cause of ADHD and that is what bothers me most.  It's not wrong to discuss a few theories, but to put the blame on the parents is a bit harsh.  Still thought provoking though.

However, in this awesome clip about Changing Education Paradigms it shows how ADHD is not spread evenly across the US.  This tells me it is not a country-wide issue.

Hearing that roughly 10% of all kids are diagnosed with ADHD is a real shocker.  This has absolutely nothing to do with Easton and Layla, but it is one of the things I was concerned about before they were born.  I'm very relieved to know neither of them are affected by it, but I can tell you about a few kids in their classes who I know are!

See you soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sprinklers, Hiking, and Biking

Greetings friends and family,

While I was away Kendra and Ouma and Oupa took good care of the twins as expected.  They had plenty of friend time as well as family time.  Kendra and Megan set up the sprinkler in the front yard to water the grass and water the kids.

This pretty much sums up our summer vacation.  Thanks to our expressive bundle of joy and energy, Layla.

Easton has his own way of showing enjoyment.  I'm proud of him for being brave enough to jump through the sprinkler.  Things look different to a six-year-old who has never experienced something before.  After the first time through they made a day of it while staying cool.

The 4 Webbs are reunited in Sacramento for more days of summer fun.  Shortly after I walked in the door from being away from them for 5 nights we went out for bike ride to have some Daddy time.  We rode up a few streets and I heard Easton's brakes lock up.  I turned around to see him standing over his bike motionless and focused.  His eyes lit up and he said, "Ice cream truck, Daddy!  I hear the ice cream truck!"  Layla and I listened hard and starred at each other with a doubtful look.  then the magical music tones faintly came through our ears.  He was right about the ice cream truck songs.  Layla asked, "can we chase it down?"  I didn't want to get his hopes up, but as with many other occasions I answered by saying, "why not?"

We raced up the street like a pack of pregnant turtles.  I stopped our slight progress every few hundred feet to retune our ears.  We adjusted our course a few times which took us through the school yard, across a park, and up over a few yards.  Then...  bingo!  the truck retraced it's path down from the dead end cul-de-sac where it was and drove right by us.  Easton and Layla were jumping around as if they were a couple of marooned cast-aways waving down a ship from their stranded island life.  The ice cream lady stopped and we loaded up on popsicles that we can't get in the stores.

We sat down in the nearby park tree shade and made a big mess.

These are the spontaneous adventures that you can't have unless you go adventuring.  Sometimes these trips end with crying, whining, or bad consequences, but most often our adventures turn out well.  We are always happy we took time to be together no matter how it ends.

This evening I took the twins and their friends home to let Kendra and Megan have some shopping time together before dinner.   After we ran out of crab apples to throw over Oupa's fence I decided to take us for a walk on the bike path.  Easton remembered how we chewed on straw last time like farmers and asked if we could show Isa and Carlo.  "Of course!  Why not?" I said.  We passed by a neighbor's house who is growing a garden behind their back yard.  The prop just happened to be good timing for our four farmers.

Easton asked if we could follow a side trail instead of staying on the bike path.  I said, "yes, if you lead."  So off he went.  here are the troopers behind me asking about snakes and spiders and poison oak.

We were hot and sweaty, but not overheated.  Even after swimming and playing all day and the hike, they were still not worn out by bedtime.  We stayed up a few extra minutes playing Chutes and Ladders (Princess Edition) as a family.  Then I followed up the bedtime routine with extra long songs.  This evening was exactly what I needed as far as reconnecting with the twins was concerned.  The other part of coming home was getting Kendra back in my arms.  There is something rejuvenating about being away and then being reunited with my wife.  It's almost like a reset or a re-focus to appreciate the little things about her how wonderful she is.  Sleeping in my own, perfect bed at home alone was nice, but I'd sleep on the cold, hard ground and be content if she is by my side.

See you soon!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baseball Fans

Greetings friends and family,

The whole family took a trip to Oakland for a major league baseball adventure.  The only newbie for the trip is Layla.  Last year Oupa took Easton and I to an A's game so now it was Layla's turn to experience the magic.  Kendra bought us all hats to show our support.

Our seats were in the upper deck with a great view of the entire field.

Casey and Barbie joined us along with Aunt Susie and Aunt Judy.  We were happy to bundle up in jackets and blankets because it is a rare day in June for the 4 Webbs to be in such a cool place.

We kept feeding Easton and he kept eating more and more.  Just when I thought he couldn't possibly still be hungry he would pipe up with a request for more food.  I grabbed him by the hand and we went down to the concession area.  We waited in line where I put him on top of my shoulders so he could get a good view of the corn dog stand and the process they use to make them.

I ordered the monster size corn dog for him.  He devoured half of it, but finally said the magic words, "I'm full".  Are you sure? I questioned him.  "yes, i'm sure", He said.

Much of the game was spent sitting on Ouma and Oupa's lap.  They made it through 8 innings of the winning game.  I was happy the A's won because there is a very different atmosphere when a home team is smashing the ball over the fence and winning.    

This was the full baseball experience unlike anything they've ever seen.  I'm happy we were able to have this kind of fun with the extended family.

I'm in Phoenix taking advantage of being home alone.  I'm in my house with no wife and no kids.  It's lonely and I miss them, but there is a silver lining.  I get to go check on things in the house and I get this weird option of leaving the house at will.  I was sitting at my computer desk and noticed the time was late for lunch.  I thought, "I should go get something to eat?" so I stood up, walked to the garage, got in the car, and left.  Within 30 seconds of me deciding I want food I was on my way.  It was surreal because any other time it would require telling Kendra where I'm going, asking if she wants anything, seeing what the kids have planned for the next few hours, and on and on.

the other thing I enjoyed is Facetime with Kendra and the twins.  I'm happy they are old enough to hold the phone and hold a conversation with me at the same time.  Layla gave me this face when we were being silly together.

I can't wait to get back to Sacramento.  I miss Kendra and the kids way more than I'm enjoying being away from them.

See you soon.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Photo Shoot

Greetings friends and family,

My posts haven't followed the Throwback Thursday tradition of highlighting adventures from the past, but today is special.  Here's one of Easton and Layla at 2 years and 4 months old.  I don't have too many coherent memories of the first two years, but after age two when we found our footing in parenting I have plenty of memories.  This is one of my favorite because it started one of the greatest traditions around our house of wearing costumes.

And now back to modern day with the 4 Webbs...  Ouma's friend's daughter came into town with her photography skills and a big camera.  She met us for a little photo shoot that developed some real keepers.  This one captures the summer togetherness very well.  We've been functioning like a well oiled machine at Ouma and Oupa's house while having the time of our lives.

I like this one as our 4 Webbs summer picture.  Some time in the past year or so they grew too tall for us to hold them in our pics.  They've officially crossed that threshold of being big kids who have to stand on their own because we can't hold them up for any length of time.

The scenery at the photo shoot location was well used.  I'm happy to have a background of something other than desert landscaping for a change.  I wasn't sure how these would turn out because of the shadows, but the photographer lady knew what she was doing.

Easton and Layla are really good about holding still and taking pictures.  They've had lots of practice!  I am extremely proud of my family for our cohesiveness and genuine enjoyment of each other.  It's a difficult trait to measure, but the only scale that matters is the one we stand on.

If the only thing we get out of summers here is for the twins to spend time with Ouma and Oupa, then I'd make this trip based on that alone.  In the same way my Dad talks fondly of spending summers at the Levisay farm, I believe the twins will have similar stories to tell as they get older.

One more of the 4 Webbs I couldn't pass up posting.  The reason I like this one is because Layla is closest to me.  She'll always be my little girl.

I don't see too many brother sister photos with this much love for each other on full display.  

The dancing will continue with or without music because it is in their heads and in their hearts.

Even though Kendra had a week alone here last month, it is still important for her to spend time with her mom.  They don't get hours at a time often, but I'm happy for them to have such a close bond to nurture on a day to day basis.  Not every daughter has the opportunity to spend weeks at a time with her parents, but we'll keep riding the gravy train as long as it lasts!  

See you soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Birthdays and Celebrations

Greetings friends and family,

We celebrated Barbie's birthday with much fanfare.  The twins sat not-so-patiently by the front window waiting for Casey to bring the birthday girl over for her party.  

There is a tradition in Ouma's house that whoever's special day it is eats from the "celebrate" plate.  It's been around in the family for a long time and represents a rite of passage into the family.  Hey, it's better than hazing!

The twins gave Barbie homemade cards.  They worked hard on the words and pictures, which means more than probably any other card she received.  

It's difficult to compare gifts, but Ouma's handmade blanket is the clear winner.  She quilted a big blanket for Barbie with stars on the material and star-shaped embroidery.

Her homemade lasagna dinner and homemade funfetti birthday cake were baked and delivered as requested. I didn't take a picture of the lasagna because this isn't a foodie blog, but trust me, it was good.  Kendra pampered Barbie by painting her fingernails a happy pink color.  

It was the most homemade birthday party I've ever seen and also one of the most enjoyable for us and the birthday girl.  

For Father's Day I took Oupa golfing.  I didn't ask for anything because I didn't really want anything, but it was good to spend the morning on the course with him doing what he likes.  My Dad sent me a few boxes of golf balls to go along with the set of clubs he sent.   One of the boxes contained balls stamped with "Roy Boy" because they were designed for my Uncle Roy (Dad's brother).  Not sure how they got from Roy to Aunt Gay to Dad, but they ended up on the receiving end of my driver.  

I had a great day on the course with Dad and my former boss.  A leisurely day of golfing is rare for me, but the extended hours away from work, family, technology, and friends made for a pleasant break from the norm.  I'm used to mountain biking being my "you must focus on what's right in front of your feet" time.  Golf isn't nearly as intense because there is no fear of going face-first into a cactus, but it was still good for clearing my mind.

There is one picture I didn't post from the last post about our trip to the Lake of the Pines.  On the way home Layla fell asleep and Easton was wide awake.  This has never happened as far as I know.  The funniest part was watching Easton staring intently into Layla's face.  He was looking in her mouth and noting her eyes slightly open.  All of his inquisitive nature was on full display.  Kendra and held in the chuckles as we watched Easton take advantage of this rare occasion.

This is the summer of golf camp.  Oupa is taking Easton and Layla to the driving range a couple of times per week for easy-going time at the range.  He isn't instituting a regimen with drills, but is just letting them have fun and take some swings at the ball while working on learning one thing at a time.  Layla's sun visor makes her feel like a part of the golf team.

The most desired photo shoot of the summer is of the four generations.  The ladies graciously agreed to let me take a few pictures of the four of them together.  The rocking chair GG is sitting in goes back to the days when she rocked Ouma to sleep as a baby.  Ouma had the family heirloom re-covered a few years ago.  It made for a good prop because GG was able to sit and relax while the other three moved around to get just the right shot.

I like everyone's bright eyes in this next picture.  I like to see how their features change from one generation to the next.

This is the best one, in my opinion, because it is in order.  Not that it has to be, but when I envisioned the shoot, I had this image in my mind.  I'm really happy with how it turned out and I'm even happier Layla has such a great heritage and quality time with her Ouma and GG this summer.

See you soon!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's Day Again

Happy Father's Day to all the dads who happen to stop by.  This is my sixth time to go through this celebration of fatherhood.  I received exactly what I expected and hoped for on my special day.  The twins told me several times over the past few days about their handmade greeting cards.  At six years old there isn't a single thing they can buy for me that isn't mine already.  The only money they get is what I have already earned.  What they can give me is their creativity, time, and love.  Lucky for me they have an abundance of all three.

As soon as I woke up they were  waiting patiently to give me their cards.  Layla's has colorful flowers on one side with her and I smiling on the other.  Easton drew a shark mouth.  That's his version of a shark attack coming straight at you.

For Father's Day the 4 Webbs, Ouma, and Oupa all drove up north to the "Lake of the Pines".  Kendra's aunt Cindie lives there.  She invited Oupa's extended family up for a BBQ and boating.  We showed up around noon before lunch.  The twins went straight to the water's edge.  There were two other little kids swimming around.  That was enough encouragement for the twins to jump right in.

The sandy bottom and pleasantly warm temps made for a great swim time.  We also found a few rocks to have a first lesson in rock skipping.  Easton finessed a rock to get two skips out of it.  Layla had more fun just forcefully splashing the hunks of rock into the lake.

We took a stroll along the lake with aunt Cindie in her pontoon boat.  it was eventful, to say the least.  The scenery and community of houses are amazing.  Kendra kept saying, "I could live there or there... or there, in the three story mansion with a walk out boat dock and deck."

We found a calm cove and dropped anchor.  The three of us jumped in and floated around a while.  Easton and I swam under the pontoon boat.  That was brave of him to follow me.  Layla was content to swim around the outside and meet us on the other end of the boat.

I managed to catch one of the two most important pictures of the summer.  This is the "four generations of men" picture I wanted.  To have Easton, his Dad, his Oupa, and his grandpa all in the same shot is priceless.  This is the heritage or legacy Easton is being handed.  I wasn't born into this family, but I married into it and grafted their bloodline into mine through Kendra.  Every family has good and bad they pass down through the generations.  I'm excited to see how the good ones develop in Easton's life.

My Father's Day was special in many ways. I spent part of it with family, part of it was just quiet time for me to read my book, and part of it was playing with the twins.  I never want Father's Day to be seen as a "break" from Easton and Layla.  It's a day to celebrate being a father and I can't think of a better way to do that than being a father.  I enjoy time away from them just like every father needs, but today I just needed time to reflect on how it's a privilege and a blessing to be Easton and Layla's dad.  Twenty years from now that may be how I'm known and I'm perfectly happy with that.  They have greatness in their future, in whatever way they allow God to use them.

See you soon!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bike Riders All Around

Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are livin' large in Sactown.  I'm working the days away at the salt mine and hanging with family at night and on the weekends.  I have no car, but that's ok because I have no other life right now.  I'm perfectly fine with that too.  No midnight drive to the church to check out the false alarm.  No driving to the coffee shop to meet with the guys in my mentoring group.  No 8:00 pm drive to the gym (I get to do that during the day at work). The lack of activity is exactly what the doctor ordered for us to be refreshed. 

We gave up on pushing the twins to ride without training wheels. Kendra bought some springy ones from target and off we go. 

I took Layla for a ride to GG's house. It was a really long ride for her first outing away from Ouma's cul-de-sac

We greeted GG, drank water, and gave a few hugs before heading back home.  We arrived to the cheers of everyone in the house.  Easton asked to go for the same ride so back out I went into the heat for round two. I told Easton he didn't have to ride all the way to GG's house. His reply made me proud.  He said, "Layla did it so I know I can do this. We're going all the way to GG's house!"  

He didn't even mind riding on Layla's bike either.  His bike needed some work because it is old and rusty and hard to pedal. 

Again we arrived at GG's with more thirst and hugs.  He loves loving on his GG. 

On the trip home we scaled two difficult hills. Layla climbed without stopping. Easton needed a little break and a small push to get going again after his break.  Layla has stronger than average muscles.  There's no doubt about that.  Easton has something Layla doesn't (yet):  perseverance.  When he sets his mind on something he gets it done. 

Ouma set up a photo shoot with her friends daughter.  The photographer had lenses big enough to capture our nose hairs in HD quality from across the park.  I'm sure the set will turn out well and I'm looking forward to seeing the files.  I took this with my crummy iPhone camera as they posed for the photographer.  

Then we went for a late dinner at Chili's.  Speaking of late...  I finally concede that the twin's sleeping pattern is no longer 7:00 pm to 7:00 am.  We had a good run but those days are over.  They either stay up until 8:00pm or they wake up at 6 o'crack in the morning.  It's a struggle of my tiredness every day now.  Do I have an extra hour of daddy time at night when I really would rather be relaxing or writing or reading?  Or do I want to hear them ratting around at 6 the next morning?   

It had to end sometime but I had high hopes of the 12 hour sleep lasting a few more years. 

If that's the worst of my woes then I consider myself happy and blessed.  Yes I am!  

See you soon.