Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Silver Dollar City

Greetings friends and family,

One of the days of family vacation in Missouri was spent in Branson at Silver Dollar City.  This place is affectionately known as "Steal Your Dollar Silly" because it's an amusement park with high priced everything.  I choose not to calculate the total cost of these outings because I'd do it all over again even if it were twice as expensive.  There are only a handful of pictures from the last 20 years with my brother, sister, and I all three together.   This is one of my favorites.

That rare moment of isolating the three of us will continue to be rare because we all have families and kids who are included in every other moment besides that one.  For example, the ride on the tram from our car to the park gates was an adventure on its own.

Layla sat right behind me next to Piersyn, her newly grafted cousin.

The hillbilly, last-century nature of the park provides some unique situations.  Easton and Layla are pretending to locked in the stocks.  The sign between them says, "troublemakers, malcontents, and lollygaggers!"  If I had to guess, I'd say the twins were both in the stocks for being lollygaggers.

The day was hot enough to make the water rides enticing.  This ride has laser guns that shoot targets throughout the pretend jailhouse that activate animated objects.  The whole gang of us rode through laughing at all the funny sights.    

Layla's favorite ride was the swing.  It raises up high, then spins around in a big wobbly circle.  The gravitational force was intense for a kid ride.

I misunderstood the minimum height required to ride alone, but luckily Kendra was just around the corner and jumped in to save the day.  Easton rode with her smiling the whole time.  As we talked on the way home he said this was like the scene in Rocketman where he was testing on the g-force simulator.  He said this was his astronaut training.

My favorite part of the experience was walking through Marvel Cave.  The wait wasn't too bad and the 60 degree temperature deep down in the ground was refreshing.

My back is healed enough and strong enough to walk down 500 steps and up 200 steps.  Thank God for health and healing!  The 4 Webbs were at the front of the line, right next to the cave guide, the entire time.  We asked all kinds of questions and learned so much.

There is a waterfall deep in the cave.  It seemed like the most romantic place to take a picture so I grabbed my one and only for a picture of us.

The formation behind the twins is called Blondie's Throne because a blonde haired boy got lost in the cave for several hours way back when.  They found him when the candlelight reflected off his blonde hair.  I told Easton and Layla to look scared as if they were stuck in the cave for hours.

The cave has a train ride from inside the cave back to the top.  We survived!

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I planned, but I'm happy we were able to make memories that were just ours to talk about for years.

The full day at the amusement park was well utilized.  We rode the train, Kendra rode the big kid roller coasters, and we saw a huge fireworks display to cap the night.  The twins were asleep by the time we arrived home, which doesn't happen often.  The 4 Webbs would have had a great time by ourselves at Silver Dollar City, but I'm thankful Nana and my brother and sister's families were all there together.  I know Easton and Layla experienced memories this day that we'll talk about for the rest of their lives.

Next up...  the big 50th wedding anniversary celebration!

See you soon

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Siblings and Cousins

Yeehaw friends and family,

We are burning our candle at both ends having an awesome time with my family.  I have an entire picture roll to go through, but first allow me to critique my own parenting actions.  The sleep schedule I diligently manage for the twins has held solid for the past 4 years or so.  Once in a blue moon I let the twins stay up past bedtime to enjoy a special late-night event.  However, their sleep schedule during this trip was obliterated.  Out of the past 13 nights the twins have been in bed by 8:00 exactly zero times.  That's not the concerning part though.  I'm reasonable.  I'm flexible.  A little shift here and there doesn't create lawless children, but 11:00 pm for a bedtime of a six-year-old is way out of bounds for my comfort zone.  I tolerated a few melt-downs that would never happen under normal circumstances, but these past two weeks were anything but normal.  If I had to do it over again I would spread out the late nights by sprinkling in a few normal bedtimes.  Other than that, I would keep every fun-filled evening exactly as it happened.

OK, i got that confession off my chest and now it's on to adventures.  This year has not included a full 7 days of no-work and all kids until now.  One of the best parts of this trip was waking up late, lazying around our pajamas and just hanging out together.  Layla and I had breakfast on the back yard patio together.  Her cherry lips are the same shade as a real cherry.

My mom fixed a whole turkey, potatoes, and homemade gravy for lunch one afternoon.  It was like Christmas in July.  A classic Webb trait being passed on to Easton was fully displayed as B.J. picked black olives from the bowl before dinner.  Easton came by a minute later and did the same thing!  I caught him red handed, but didn't have much of a case to stand on since B.J. was still munching on his stolen black olive.

My friend from high school, Matt, and I had some memorable times at his cabin on Table Rock Lake.  I was hoping to get our families together while we were in town.  He offered to spend an evening on the lake and I quickly accepted his offer.  After the infamous pontoon incident last month at the Lake of the Pines where Easton and Layla thought they were going to drown, they were willing to get on the boat when they saw it was an open bow Crown Line.  they were a bit skittish every time the throttle would drop the front of the boat downward, but after a few times of not drowning they were happy as clams.

Matt's daughter, Claire, was... boisterous.  OK, she was extremely loud.  Not obnoxious, but she knew how to use her outside voice very well.  It made for an extra fun time because I could hear Easton and Layla testing the boundaries of their own crazy loudness as they tried to keep up with her.  We were going very fast on the water as you can see by the hair and smiles and wake in this picture.

There were moments of serenity as we tucked back into a calm cove for some swimming and sun-soaking.  the mid-week trip made for an extra smooth evening on the lake because there were very few boats with us.

Kendra stayed in the boat because the only reason she is willing to get her feet in the lake is if there are skis or a wake board attached to them.  The rest of us floated around like corks.  I have a life jacket strapped on backwards so i can sit and float like a pro.  Easton and Layla had the old-school style of life jackets that worked just fine.

We skipped across the water towards the sunset as the trip wound down.  Kendra on a boat in the lake is one of her many "happy places".  Seeing her enjoy herself and holding my sweet Layla was picture worthy even without the great sunset.

After leaving the lake we realized it was really late and we were really hungry.  tired and hungry is not a good combination for me or the twins.  We drove a few miles out of the way through Reed Springs to eat at Pop's Dari Dell.  I don't even know what that means, but that's the way they spell it.  the hole-in-the-wall diner is where Matt and I would go for grub when we spent time at the lake house when we were in high school.  As we pulled up to the old-school place I had a flood of memories flash through my mind.  Kendra and the twins loved it.

and I got a good picture of my buddy Matt and I in front of the store.  The only thing missing from this picture is my friend Ryan.  One of the only disappointments of this trip is my lack of connecting with Ryan.  He was the third amigo for our adventures and it wasn't the same without him.  

The lake trip resulted in yet another late night for the twins to slump into bed around 11:00 or so.  Totally worth it though.

I've only had sibling-only time with my brother and sister (no kids or parents or cousins) a couple of times in the past decade.  Once last year and then...  I can't even remember about the time before that.  This time we included our spouses, which created a whole new dynamic with B.J.'s girlfriend/fiance/wife Lindsey.  She's swell.  I'm happy for B.J. because he's happy.  I've never seen him have the freedom to be affectionate and loving before so it took some getting used to.  I did a double-take several times watching him hold her hand or steal a kiss while walking through a crowd.  It's refreshing to see my brother being himself with Lindsey, who encourages him.  Our time together during these few hours is a highlight of my trip!

The 4 Webbs were introduced to Mom and Dad's dog, Molly.  She is the 14th dog of their marriage.  We have a betting pool on how long she'll last in the Webb house.  Easton and Layla like her very much.  She licks them on the mouth and they don't care.

We spent a few afternoons at various aquatic centers as a way to beat the heat during these dog days of summer.  Kendra had the opportunity to hold Beckham.  I'm always happy for her to hold other people's babies because I she gets her baby fix.  As adorable as he is, she still said, "I don't want another one so don't worry."

Layla loves to swim and be social with her cousins.  When she's not talking she's holding her breath while swimming across the pool.

Kendra would probably rather sit around in the lounge chairs instead of braving the chilly water, but she is what I call an involved parent who takes an active role in being interested in what Layla likes.  sometimes it requires getting wet.

Easton tries so hard to be one of the boys.  Sometimes he's just too young to keep up with the older cousins, but sometimes they let him fit in and shine like a star.

Layla is between Daphne and Trinity in age so she fits in well with their mentality and coolness.  Occasionally they allow Easton to fit in too.

But not for the princess play times.  This picture is from one of the visits to Aunt Joanie's house.  They always return with amazing stories and toys as if they had been at camp for a week.

Easton learned to drive this week.  Papa taught him well and sent him on his way up and down the street.  He smiled and laughed all the way back and forth as the engine howled.  He is very cautious and calculating, but willing to try something new like this and practice over and over again.  That's a winning combination and I'm excited to see how Easton applies himself to opportunities as he gets older.  Cousins Silas and Eli have driven this gocart around Papa's house for years and now Easton is finally old enough and brave enough to give it a go.  I cheered him on and praised him for the bravery.

I'm still about 4 days behind in adventures, but will catch up as time permits.  I'm so busy with the 4 Webbs making memories that's I haven't been taking time to post them.

See you soon!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Missouri Family Adventures

Greetings friends and family,

The summer that seems like it will never end is marching on like a parade rolling through town.  These past few days have been real vacation for me where I'm officially taking off days from work in a row.  Being disconnected leads me to a whole new tranquil place of "i don't care about anything" land.  I'm just having fun going along with whatever everyone wants to do.  There aren't many scheduled events, but that is exactly what the doctor ordered.  Today Dad and I had our haircut appoints.  That is the only thing I had scheduled for the whole day.  I consider the absence of a minute-by-minute plan to be one measure of success this week.

The twins are playing outside as much and as often as possible.  we are both happy for them to go in the back yard and not worry about their safety.   They only come in to inform us about a bug they found or an accomplishment.  For example, Easton learned how to swing all by himself.  He had no interest in it before, but for whatever reason he had a desire to learn.

Then, as these twins often do, they find a way to make something a team effort.  They swing back and forth towards each other saying "tick" "tock" as they moved in time together.

This was my first chance to meet five-month-old Beckham.  He is my brother's first born son and the only other Webb boy to carry on our family name besides Easton.  Beckham is calm and happy.  Brings back a few memories of the twins when I was working through this stage with them.

Nana and Papa have a trundle bed with camouflage bedding.  As long as Easton has his Nunu it doesn't matter what he sleeps on or in even a cool set of sheets like these.  The sleepover at Aunt Joanie's house last night led to a long nap by Easton.  Imagine that...  nap time for once.

Layla did not take a nap.  I know... big surprise.  I walked in to find her listening to her iPod.  That was a first for me.  I know she has her own taste in music and it's great to see her choosing what to listen to and sing along with.

The 4 Webbs joined my brother's family and sister's family at the aquatic center for some sun and water fun.  Easton and Layla are Phoenix wimps!  The water was chillier than our 94 degree pool, but there is no way the temperature warranted shrieks and a timid attitude.

Easton was the first to jump in and said, "let's go Dad!"  I gladly joined him and we had bunches of fun swimming between the people together.  I don't know how many more years I have left of being cool enough for him to want to swim with me in public.  Gotta make the most of it while it lasts.

And then there's this girl who will always be young because of her fun personality.

Layla's favorite part of the aquatic center was this obstacle course where you have to balance on the floating, moving pads while hanging onto the rope netting above.  She conquered this at least 8 times during the few hours we were here.

Easton did it a couple of times, but wasn't as excited about doing it over and over again.

The aquatic center has this simulated wave area called the "Huna" where you can ride on a boogie board for 45 seconds at a time.  We watched cousins ride it and I asked Easton if he wanted to do it.  He said yes so we paid the $2 for his pass to do it.  The first time he lasted about 2 seconds and wiped out up top as the water jetted him up and over the edge above.  I asked a little later if he wanted to try again and he agreed.  I was surprised, but proud of him for tackling it again.  He rode it well and stayed on longer than I expected.

He has an adventurous spirit to try new things and a tenacity to go back after defeat and give it another try.  These are very welcomed traits starting to flow out of him little by little.  I wonder where he gets that from?  Oh yeah...  Kendra.  

She jumped off the high dive as we proudly cheered below.  I would have joined her if my back were fully recovered.  I'm happy Kendra will never get too old for fun and adventure.  I enjoy the ride with us as the 4 Webbs and look forward to closing out the summer with a bang.

See you soon!

Friday, July 18, 2014

It's Progress!

Greetings friends and family,

One week without Kendra and the twins is rough.  Ouma and Oupa are home safe and back to just the two of them for the first time in EIGHT WEEKS.  I'm considering writing a new post titled, "How to live with your in-laws for eight weeks." They are having a blast in Missouri, but I'm missing them as much as I'm missing the fun they are having. Back at the ranch, I've been working while laying in bed.  I was able to sit at my desk at work for a few hours these past two days, but the amount of time I can spend sitting is limited still because my back is healing.  Progress is slow, but still progress!  I spent a few of those precious sitting minutes playing around on my guitar and singing.  The songs I sing are 10 times slower than they were designed to be played because I have to look up the finger position of every chord.  I'm excited to get reacquainted with a guitar, progress is slow, but still progress!

Layla and Daphne are fawning over the newest member of our cousin clan, Beckham.  This type of encounter possibly kept their attention longer than any other entertainment.

Easton is fitting in well as one of the boys.  I'm always happy to see him around older boys who are well mannered, well behaved, and inclusive of my little guy.  Good grief, they look old.

I'll have to ask Easton when I see him what kind of games they were playing to get a piggy back ride from cousin Eli.  I know the twins went to a baseball game or two of his.  It's good to have a cousin to look up to.

Here are all of Nana and Papa's granddaughters except Lexi.  That's a lot of smiles with varying degrees of expression.  I see my princess is dressed appropriately as expected.  I want so badly to know the stories behind these pictures, but I get a smile from seeing theirs because it's the best I have for now.

Papa gave Easton the chance to drive Silas' gocart around the neighborhood.  From the report I heard he didn't crash and is looking forward to lesson number 2 tomorrow which will undoubtedly involve more speed.  Acceleration solves almost any problem, right?

Layla had her maiden voyage with driving lessons too.  Predictably she was a little more cautious than Easton, but I'm proud of her for trying!  Only 10 more years before her driving test so we gotta get started now.  Progress!

Nana holding Beckham and sharing the love with Layla.  Someday Layla will be able to say, "Beckham, I held you when you were still in diapers!"

I've been getting a regular diet of text messages with pictures over the past few days.  I can tell Kendra and the twins are cramming every possible moment with family time.  I'm grateful my family is open enough to put their lives on hold for them to be there.

Can't wait to see my family again soon.  There will be a lot of hugging going on!