Saturday, August 30, 2014

First Grade School Pictures

Greetings friends and family,

half-years are a big deal for kids until some age.  Easton and Layla introduce themselves to strangers (when we are with them) and it goes something like this:

I'm Layla...  I'm Easton...  We're twins!  and we're six and a HALF.  Can you believe it?  We are growing up!

I chuckle inconspicuously with straight lips and snorting like a bull because they are so exuberant in their social interactions.

I just reread that last sentence to know if it makes sense.  I thought about rewriting it using smaller words, but didn't bother.  This is how the thoughts come through my head and you all are smarter than the average bears.

One morning this past week I heard Kendra getting the kids ready for school. She said something about school pictures I loaded up my DSLR to get some pics before they head off to school.  I never liked yearbook pictures because they rarely represent the student well.  As far as I'm concerned these are their official First Grade pictures regardless of what happened at school this day.

Layla nails the "knee-in, toe-down" pose.

Easton will ask me someday why I let him go to school without a belt on.  It's just a rite of passage, i guess?  He's still a dashing young man even with the top-buttoned shirt and hiked up pants.

Easton asks me every. single. day. about a titantic toy.  I let him browse Amazon with me one day and he came up with this:

He said, "It looks like the real thing and it floats and has battery power."  Apparently those are his criteria.  He is getting a true understanding of what $25 is because every day we talk about it.  He asks if HE has $25 so we count the money in his "spend" container.  I say, "1, 2, 3 dollars.  Dude, you have 3  dolllars.  you need to get to $25."  Then he asks, "Do YOU have $25?"  I respond, "Yes, but I don't want to spend it on a titanic toy."  Then he pulls his best trick in the palybook, which is to say, "Why not?"  because I've taught him that since he was barely old enough to think.

I may end up buying it for him out of persistence.  It would be easy to say no if he was bratty or pestering me, but he's not.  He's just really focused on what he is passionate about and I want to encourage that as much as possible.

Speaking of passions, Layla is back on the ice.  Her ice skating rink finally reopened after the remodel.  She was bouncing in her chair like Tigger all the way there.  She practically ran out onto the ice after I laced up her skates.  Here she is with her new and old friends along with the instructors.

I'll give you one guess who was scrambling to be in the front of every drill and exercise. Of course it's Layla. What she lacks in talent (compared with some other girls) she makes up for in passion.

I took her to the lesson straight after work.  The time together just traveling there and getting ready was a reminder of how important it is to have one on one Daddy time with my girl.  She comes alive even brighter with the slightest smile, clap, and thumbs up as I watch her.  The amount of influence and responsibility I have to call her out as a wonderful young lady is overwhelming at times.  Much like the nervousness I felt on my wedding day with Kendra, it's not so much a matter of being scared.  I'm just intensely aware of the nature of those key moments in life.

Anyway, the tighter rules and increased costs under the new management are not comforting, but we'll let her go as far as she wants to as long as there are funds to make it happen.  She's still set on going to the Olympics, by the way.  The two things she needs now to get on that track are balance and flexibility so that's where we will be working off the ice to improve.

...and in other news, my job change at work is a whole new level of responsibility and leadership.  Unfortunately, my company doesn't increase salary to match the employee's role or position or title.  The employee must function in the new role and prove his worth and THEN be considered for an increase in pay.  I'm just happy to have my job and blessed to have the opportunity to increase my level of influence.

Labor weekend and the great achievement of doing absolutely nothing for a couple of days is on the horizon.  looking forward to some family downtime.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Ice Bucket

Greetings friends and family,

I've been half-heartedly watching the ALS ice bucket challenges on Facebook feed for the past few weeks.  I don't personally know anyone with ALS and it is one of those out of sight, out of mind kind of things.  Then I saw a video of a young guy describing how his grandma had it, his mother has it, and he does too.  I watched the agony of taking care of someone with ALS and the fear in his emotions as he showed the effects of it on his hands and arms.  I didn't really plan to donate to the cause because so many others already were, but then I was challenged by my friend Doug and called me out. I did some research to know the basics such as, "what does ALS stand for?"  The answer is, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  It's a terrible way to die and about 30,000 people are doomed to that end.  I gladly took on the challenge and then called out my two dads: Oupa, Papa, as well as another friend of mine who i thought would come through.

I ended up with some funny clips of the twins, but because of the short 24 hour deadline given to me, I wasn't able to do real video producing justice.  Even so, we got the job done.

I captured a couple of fun pics of the twins participating too.

Look at those muscles!  The twins are eating plenty of spinach to get strong.

We invited a young mother from church to spend the afternoon at the Casa de Webb.  She brought her four year old son over to hang out with Easton and Layla.  Layla was kind enough to leave the boys alone.  They played Star Wars and legos and swam for a few hours while Kendra talked with the mother.

Because Easton was busy playing, I took Layla out for a little daddy time.  We ran some errands and sat at a coffee shop discussing school and friends and all the fun we had this past summer.  At the grocery store I saw a dozen roses on sale for $4.00.  They weren't in the best shape, but I grabbed a bundle to give to Kendra.  Layla asked if they were for her and I told her, "No, these are for Mommy because she is my wife and I love her very much.  I want to bring them home to surprise her as a way to show her I was thinking about her."  I could see her mind processing my comment and I waited patiently for her response.  She could have thought, "well, you must not love me because you didn't get any for me!" That might end with a temper tantrum right there in the store for some kids and parents.  Or she could have thought, "I'm glad you love Mommy like that and want to show her."

She responded with the latter comment, to which I bent down and gave her a big hug.  I said, "because you were kind and understanding I will get you a bouquet as well."  Not only that, I gave her the choice of any of the bouquets on display.  She said, "I'm glad you love Mommy and I know you love me too, Daddy.  The flowers are a good way to show it for both of us."

This is a random month-old photo, but I discovered it as I glanced back through our summer fun pics.  This is from Nana and Papa's backyard when they brought out the slip 'n slide.  She is very creative when it comes to posing and strong enough to do it while sliding down the slip 'n slide.  She always has a song in her heart and skip in her step.  I love watching her grow and still keep her happy go lucky personality along the way.

One evening I had the twins for the evening while Kendra did her own thing.  I took the twins out for a cheap dinner.  Layla asked if she could wear one of her princess dresses.  I agreed and she went all out with full Snow White attire.  At a stoplight (no i wasn't doing this while driving) I turned around to see Layla looking so grown up that I had to blink a few times to adjust my mind to what my eyes were seeing.  Somewhere along the way she became the little lady we've been declaring over her life since she was a baby.

As we sat down at the restaurant, Layla kindly asked if I would sit with her.  I gladly agreed.  She snuggled up against my chest as we waited for our food.  I gave Easton the phone to take a picture of us and this is how it turned out.

I'm happy the twins are at the age that they can take pictures too!  I've been the one behind the camera for six years now and it's about time they start carrying the mantle!

Kendra and I decided to go to the local water park for an evening of water slides and lazy river relaxation.  We invited several friends and ended up with ten of us adults willing to run around the park riding water slides like teenagers.  We were among the oldest park visitors, which we expected.  Hanging out with so many youth and young adults was tons of fun.  After the three hours of swimming, standing, running, and sliding we all went for a late night meal.  Staying out late eating greasy burgers was reminiscent of my younger years.  Not that we are trying to recapture our youth, but we are certainly never too old to have some good ole' fashioned, laugh-out-loud fun.

Kendra and I are two weeks into the eight-week class we lead at church.  We have over 40 people going through the class with us and 10 leaders helping us pull it off.  Here's what the class looks like.

This is a big focus of our time right now.  One of the most rewarding things about it is how much of the class content Easton and Layla understand and accept as truth.  They are so open to learn and understand that it is sometimes easier to paint on a blank canvas as opposed to having to chip away some false teachings and misunderstandings.

Up next on the calendar is a week of work and school followed by a long 3-day weekend of family time.

See you soon!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Double Yolk

Greetings friends and family,

I'm not a big fan of how social media leads to many people taking pictures of their McDonald's hamburger or boring taco from the Bell.  Because of that I reserve food pictures for the truly spectacular.  so here it is...  I give you...  the DOUBLE YOLK EGG!

In the cafeteria at my work there is a line of people watching the grill cook up delicious breakfast.  I order two eggs and the chef grabbed two eggs to fill my request.  He broke the first one and the whole line of people gasped and freaked out.  The chef said, "the odds of a double yolk egg are one in a thousand!  what does this sign mean to you?"  I responded with, "I have twins.  that tells me I should be careful because I can only handle one set of twins."  The line of people laughed along with me.

I didn't bother to tell them we had to go through IVF to get our twins or that I have a boy and a girl or that I surgically removed myself from the realm of possibilities. It made for a good chuckle though.  Since this is officially Throwback Thursday I'll post this picture.  one of my favorites from their baby years.

They were such adorable babies.  I miss them being this age, but not enough to have more kids so I can experience it again.  Layla will sit in my lap for hours to look through baby pictures and watch videos of them.  We did that for a little while tonight.  It brings back such great memories.

Layla also wanted to watch ice skating competition videos too.  She saw some amazing Russian ice skaters and commented on how graceful they were.  She started to move her arms around as she watched the video.  She reiterated her desire to go to the Olympics.  I say, "OK, let's do it!  I know you can if you want to."

We are on the verge of starting up fall sports.  Both are playing soccer, Easton is playing golf, and Layla is ice skating.  That's all the extra curricular sports we can handle.  meanwhile, in the off season, we are continuing to swim almost every evening.  They are getting really brave with their jumps and dives lately.  Getting this next picture of them both looking at the camera took about 10 shots.  Part of my ploy was to wear them out getting up and down from the hot tub several times.  muahahahaha!

As for my back injury, it is 100% healed and I am running (literally) at full speed ahead.  I'm on day 18 of 90 with my P90X3 workout schedule.  I don't post shirtless pictures on social media because it's just not appropriate unless i was in body building or under age 30.  I'm neither, so facebook will never see this picture.  However, this is my blog and I try to be as real and open as possible.  I'm only 6 months away from turning 40.  That shocks me and scares me at the same time.  How can I be this old?  Regardless of how unbelievable it seems, the truth is not negotiable.  Anyway, I took this picture a week ago as the "before" picture for the 90 day challenge.  I don't expect to see drastic transformation, but it at least gives me a starting point and a reality check.

So what does a 40 year old father of twins think of seeing a picture of himself?   the only word that comes to mind is "meh", which is the verbal equivalent of a shoulder shrug.  Am I happy with my physique?  not really.  i wish i were more muscular and filled out.  Although I know I should just be happy I'm not overweight or fighting to keep from getting there.

One of my goals is to be in the best shape of my life when I hit 40.  That will take quite an effort on my part, but it is a worthwhile goal.  People have been telling me since i was a boy to watch out for getting fat.

when you get into college....
when you get into the workforce...
when you get married...
when you turn 30...
when you have kids...

well, guess what.  i'm still waiting and it doesn't look like 40 is the magical "spare tire" age for me either.  At least, not if I have anything to say about it.

See you soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

All about a boy

Greetings friends and family, 

Sometimes I look back through my pics and realize they are unevenly focused on one of the twins.  I gave up on being equal and even a long time ago. This post is overwhelmingly about Easton.  I spent plenty of time with Layla but didn't capture the moments as well. 

Easton is loving first grade and his teacher.  She had a reputation for being strict.  Easton said, "yes she is a little strict but if you just obey and follow directions then she is super nice."  I consider that to be a major breakthrough. Or maybe just confirmation that our repetitive parenting style is finally paying off.  

He was given an award last week for best behavior.  His reward was to choose something from the prize box. He chose a pack of stickers and stuck them all over his shirt. I'm proud he is taking care of business at school and staying out of trouble.  

We have an Xbox and a PS3 at our house.  The odd thing is that we have zero games for the PS3 and only xbox games that are linked with the Kinect camera, which means the kids move their body, not a controller.  

I don't want them to turn into game zombies who don't move their bodies. Even so, I thought it was time to introduce them to video games with a controller.  Easton was first to jump on the chance to play.  Layla was unsure until Easton and I started playing Halo 3.  They were amazed by the graphics and how we played at the same time on the same team.  

We limit their time on the video games, but Easton has been begging me ever since the day we played together.  

I took the twins for the library for a new infusion of books.  Easton requested we go to the Titanic section.  We went directly to the info center and had her point me to the section.  We raided the entire shelf of all titanic related books !  When we checked out up front this is what the book list looked like.  

Layla picked out a few spider books (I know... Yucky, right?) and butterfly books.  We scanned the treasure chest full of goodies and loaded up our bag.  They gladly carried the heaviness to the car.  

Kendra and I had an 8am - 8pm day of church and ministry on Sunday.  It's amazing how much fun we have serving together and separately.  Although we are wiped out tired there is a huge amount of peace and fulfillment. 

The 8 week class we teach kicked off tonight. There are 35 attendees, 10 leaders we are building and many many hours put in to make it happen. We are thriving and seeing lives changed.  That's the measure of our efforts: lives changed. 

See you soon!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

route 66 part 2

Howdy friends and family,

The second half of our 48 hour trip to Northern Arizona was on the other end of the adventure scale. The first 24 hours were spent relaxing and playing in the dirt. The wonderfully cool temperatures required light jackets in the mornings and evenings. We happily dug out our long sleeved shirts and winter gear before leaving.  We opened our windows and played outside almost the entire time.

By the second day Layla was doing standing ballet moves on the swing and Easton joined in for double swing.

The second 24 were spent touring and spelunking.  The whole crew went downtown (one short street) Williams Arizona for a tour.  We ate delicious pizza at some local joint and then walked to the trains.  Both sets of twins were enthralled with the size and magnitude of the steam engine resting on the tracks.

We posed for a shot together for a point of reference for how large the wheels and engine are.

Easton and Layla are the perfect size for a picture with the railroad crossing sign.  All of the railroad sights were the real deal, not models or replicas.

and here's the whole crew of people who joined together to make the weekend a success.  All of these guys are in my mentoring group.  There are two others who weren't able to make it, but we had a great time with who showed up.  I'm really happy we went and even happier to be back in my own comfy bed.

While waiting for pizza I took the twins for a walk down the street.  We stopped into a tourist trap.  I bought Layla a few pieces of salt water taffy.  Easton had his bag ready to buy, but then he saw a sucker with a scorpion in it. yes, it's real.  no, it doesn't have the stinger on the end.  yes he licked it down to the scorpion!  He spit out the little chunks of the despicable, mummified pest inside.  completely gross, but very brave.  Why not?

 We arrived early and waited patiently at the designated spot for the shoot out.

The cowboys started showing up and the show started.

This next picture is hilarious to me because anyone who knows Layla can imagine her saying, "It's not real.  they are just pretending."  She was saying it to calm our concerns, but in reality she was confirming it to be true.

Afterwards the humorous cowboy was kind enough to pose with the twins for a memory.  

The town where portions of the Disney movie Cars is modeled after is called Peach Springs, which is just a few minutes away from where we were.  We saw some amazing rock formations along the drive, but this little town feels so much like the Cars movie I half expected Mater to come roaring around the corner.

The next morning we packed up and headed home.  Along the way we took a 20 minute detour for an adventurous journey into a wild cave.  Easton and Layla experienced Marvel Caverns and Fantastic Caverns.  Those were awesome tours and i'm happy we started there to get them used to the idea of caving.  This time we went deep into a lava tube with no guide and no lighting except what's on our heads.  I captured the 4 Webbs in a selfie as proof we were all here together and to make sure we all four come out together.

Easton enjoyed seeing the map to know what to expect.  We discussed the legend and all the little nuances along the journey.  

We showed up with three big flashlights, but as we approached the entrance a guy gave us two headlamps.  They weren't super high quality, but I'm really grateful because the twins had their own lights that allowed them have their hands free for scrambling up and down boulders inside.  Layla's hair didn't cooperate with the headlamp, but nobody cared including Layla.

Easton was banzai crazy to lead the charge down into the dark hole in the ground.  As we waited for a couple of groups to go in and out he was begging me to let him go in.

There were no bats or any living creatures anywhere in the entire cave.  That was fine with Kendra, but not as exciting for the twins.  There were sections where the boulders on the ground were piled high enough for the twins to touch the ceiling. That was truly exciting for them.

We spent about an hour in the cave from start to finish.  They asked to go deeper into the cave, but we spent plenty of time there to enjoy it and explore.  The battle wagon (our minivan) did great on the dirt road.  There were some rough spots, but we didn't leave any screws or car parts behind.

Our summer travels are finally over!  Next stop:  ministry, work, and school.

See you soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Route 66

Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are road weary from self-induced crazy traveling this summer.  I wouldn't change a thing about our summer tour other than my back pain that is a distant memory.  All of us enjoyed every minute of family time with Ouma, Oupa, Nana, Papa, and Aunt Mary.  We decided a few weeks ago to take one last weekend trip up to Northern Arizona.  This time with friends.  I mentor a group of six men and those who were able to make it joined together for a trip to hang out and build friendships.  One of the men has a virtual compound with cabins, land, and an recreation center with a kitchen.  The three-day trip cost us $40 plus food and gas.  There's no way we could turn that down.
Easton and Layla were not excited about the weekend because they've never done this before.  However, as soon as we arrived and they realized we were in the woods it was a whole new ball game.  One of the most frequented areas in the compound was the swing.  The rope wrapped around the branch, which made the friction incredibly difficult to really swing, but they didn't care.  Here is a genuine smile of enjoyment from my one and only boy.

I wish this next picture turned out better of Layla, but it's kind of artsy in a way.  Her smile is almost as bright as the sunlight behind her.

The ladies made some great meals through a group effort.  homemade refried beans from a true Hispanic family is delicious on a whole new scale.  

We spent the entire 3 days outside.  There was a huge dirt pile made of red, pulverized lava rock.  It was perfect for getting extremely dirty.  Layla is always willing to strike a pose for me though.  She recognizes beauty in such a refined manner.  She commented on the "amazing meadow" behind her where the deer wandered.

One of the men had a birthday during the trip.  And of course, any occasion to have cake is well worth the effort.  The only kids were Easton, Layla, and another set of twins who are 3 years old.  Easton and Layla experienced what it is like to play with kids younger than them.  I am thrilled they were put into that position and expected to play nicely with kids less capable than them.

I took my twins and Scott took his twin boys up the mountain for a hike.  He brought a BB gun and gave Easton and Layla a lesson on shooting a rifle.

Layla is not afraid to hang out in nature.  She doesn't like spider, but dirt and leaves and trees are an invitation to play.  Even so, she is still 100% princess and her joyfulness is visible in almost every picture she takes.

Easton is developing his personality rapidly.  it comes with a bit of sarcasm and occasional disrespect, but I'm happy he is learning what is appropriate and not.  It took him a while longer than Layla to attempt to express himself by testing boundaries of what is acceptable behavior, but that time has come.  He is learning well though.  We are carefully navigating these moments so we provide guidance without crushing his personality.

Easton took his turn to shoot the rifle at the plastic bottle.  He's got a steady hand and good shot!

and I taught him how to properly carry a rifle so we got that going for us, which is nice.

Scott and his boys headed down the mountain, but Easton and Layla asked if we go higher.  Why not?  We pointed our feet up the mountain and found some interesting trees to climb.  The twins discovered sap.  There may still be some stuck in their clothes or on their hands.  That stuff was sticky.

The three of us traversed the mountain and were temporarily lost.  I knew the cabin and road were somewhere around if we just kept walking down the mountain.  We ended up on some stranger's property.  I took this humorous picture of us tresspassing.  I didn't realize we were on private property until we passed the sign from the back side so it wasn't intentional.

The days were extremely relaxed and unplanned.  Exactly what we needed.  The last 24 hours of the trip was the most eventful, but I haven't loaded those pictures to the blog yet.

See you soon!