Monday, September 29, 2014

Our House

Greetings friends and family,

I've never had a headache.  ever. I can say that with confidence because today I had a real headache and it was like nothing I've ever experienced in my life.  I woke up this morning and felt a little off balance, but went to work anyway.  throughout the day I had blurred vision, inability to form a sentence, inability to read, sensitivity to light and sound, numbness in my right hand for a few minutes, and a strong desire to sleep the day away.  So I did. I'm almost all better now, but boy it sure sent my day into the toilet quickly.  It's been a long time since I gave up an entire day of productivity in exchange for laying in bed with the pillow over my head.

Wow.  I have a new found sympathy for those who suffer from headaches.  I can't imagine functioning in the world with that kind of nonsense going on in my head, but millions of people do it every day.  I salute you, head-achers.  

I don't get many pictures of Kendra, but I'm posting this one whether she likes it or not.  The 4 Webbs were invited to the 20th birthday for one of the young people from church.  There were about 50 of her friends and family who her mom invited to surprise her for the big dinner together.  At the end there was an opportunity to share about the birthday girl.  Kendra jumped in to give her words of encouragement and show some love.  She is great at making people feel special and always has been.  Now she's getting comfortable speaking in front of people and it makes me smile to see her stepping into more and more leadership.  Even in the small things like taking a risk to speak at a birthday party is still a step.  There is much more in store for her and I as we continue to increase and improve.

Each moth I read at least two books.  One of them this month is called Communication, sex, and money.  It's a practical teaching on exactly what the title indicates.  I posted this to facebook and had an acquaintance send me a message saying, "I wish i would have read this before i screwed up my marriage beyond repair."  I feel bad for the guy, but that's exactly why I'm reading in now instead of wishing I would have read it before trouble starts.  I'll never understand people who think they know it all and there is nothing new they can (or should) learn.  I don't know how my life will turn out because there are no promises or guarantees.  I get that.  But what I can be certain of is that I'll continue to read books and articles that provide valuable insight to grow and mature.

Here are a bunch of random pictures just for fun. I dropped off Easton and Layla at school one morning.  When I get there early I go up to the gates with them.  They introduce me to their friends, give me hugs and kisses, and hold my hand as we walk through the crowd of munchkins.  I know it won't last long, but I'm taking every opportunity to experience these wonderful moments.  I'm happy they are in different classes because at the end of the day they are excited to see each other

The 4 Webbs have a toaster.  It has 4 slots.  I realize there are 8 slice toasters, but we are pretty comfortable with 4.  We talked about "what if Mommy was pregnant" with the twins.  It was a fun conversation about how interesting life would be with a new baby around, but Kendra and I walked away content and relieved with exactly what we have.

Every morning when i sleep in the twins come to give me a hug goodbye.  They usually spend as much time hugging each other as they do hugging me during this goodbye ritual.

We went out for Sunday lunch by ourselves.  I looked across the table to see Kendra and the twins eating away and conversing.  They huddled together and let me take a picture of them.  It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was one of those special moments for me.  I was looking at the three most important people in the world to me.  They are so used to me being there for them and with them that it is completely normal and taken for granted.  I am ok with this.  When I say, "I love you" to them and they respond with "I know..."  Then everything is right on track.

I don't think I ever did before and after pictures of our house.  We moved in almost 3 years ago (can't believe it's been that long) and it's been roughly the same since then.  Here's the picture of our den before we moved in

and here's the after.

Kendra and I are completely content with how the paint, flooring, and furnishings turned out.  The part of our house I am most proud of is not the floor or remodel or furniture.  It's the usefulness.  It is designed for parties, gatherings, fellowship, or whatever you call it.  We are using the house to the full potential by hosing everything from wedding showers to church meetings to going away parties.  The kitchen table seats 10.  We pack it full and overflowing into the great room at least once a month.

The great room in the front used to look like this:

and now it looks like this:

and here is another view of the room with our prayer board on the right wall.  We have lots of years to fill up the walls with decorations and art.

See you soon!

Soccer Season Started

Greetings friends and family,

The sports season for the 4 Webbs is in full swing.  I'm on day 55 of 90 for P90X3 and I found a used mountain bike to buy so my ride season is just getting started.

Easton is golfing, Layla is ice skating, and both of them are playing soccer.  Layla played on the girls-only team last season.  Because of the apathy and too much crying she asked to play on the boys team again.  She is happy about that decision.  Her expressions and smiles show it well.  Here's a team huddle at half time.  Easton is #7 and Layla is #6.

Here's my favorite picture of the day.  Both of them smiling energetically and running full speed towards the ball.

Layla jumped right in the middle of the action and mixed it up with the boys.  This is also a visual of what "bunch ball" looks like.  The whole pack of kids (six per team) roll around the field within inches of each other.

She looks so grown up.  My princess warrior is overflowing with confidence.

Watching Easton and Layla playing together on the same team made me proud.  They were good teammates for each other and the other boys on their team.

One would be assigned to defense and the other to offense, but after a minute or so of playing they all bunched together and played together.  Easton is a little too passive, but a solid player.  He had a few great kicks to keep the ball out of his goal.  Defense looks to be his best position.  He's not very aggressive about taking the ball away from an opponent though.  We'll be working on his level of intensity and get some fight in that boy.

Kendra offered to ref the game.  The coaches normally do it, but the coaches appreciated Kendra stepping in to ref so they could focus on coaching.  I only caught one picture of the three of them in the same frame.  The concept of involved parenting doesn't get much more visual than this.  She did a great job of referee and I was the team camera man.  We all play our role, right?

Layla always has time to pose.  When Easton gets focused on a target nothing can take his eyes off the prize.  Both personality traits are on full display in this next picture.

Layla is back on the ice for weekly group classes.  She is progressing steadily and loving every minute she can skate.  At the end of each class the teachers turn on some horrible pop music song that every girl on the ice adores.  They get 5 minutes of free skate to end the session.  While this is going on, the next class of skaters wait patiently at the edge.  Layla saw an opportunity to perform and show off her skills.  I caught her moves on camera to share the sweetness of watching a warrior princess do her thing on the ice.

See you tomorrow!  lots of pics and stories to post from the weekend...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Prayer Board Complete

Greetings friends and family,

It's been a few weeks since I had a dream and vision of what I can only describe as a "prayer board".  I was meditating on how we, as a family, can agree together in prayer.  I want to involve the twins in our daily activities, but it's easy for kids to just sit in the shadows while their parents do the doing.  Whether it is painting a house, fixing a car engine, or praying there are opportunities to teach kids by example AND inclusion.  If all I do is show the twins something and never involve them to do it for themselves, then I'm setting them up for failure.  Learning doesn't happen by simply observing.  If it did, I would be able to fly a 747 jumbo jet, but I can't because that's not the way teaching, learning, and leading work.

I had a vision of a huge hanging chalk board with an appropriate height for all 4 Webbs to write out what we are praying for.  Now that the twins are in first grade and learning to spell it is the perfect time for them to read and write what we are praying for.  My first thought was, "there must be a lot of these in stores to choose from."  After searching a few department stores and craft stores I realized how rare and expensive a 4' x 5' framed chalk board is.  I told Kendra about my idea and she agreed to take it on as a project.  She is a true DIY wife!

I'd been thinking about what Easton and Layla are learning from us about prayer.  We pray at meals and for healing and in thankfulness, but it is painfully obvious by listening to them pray that they don't understand what is the purpose of prayer.

God is not a cosmic Santa or an AmEx in the sky that we go to when we want something.  He is also not the last resort, hail-Mary pass to the end zone when we get in over our head in a situation.  God is less interested in us having a better human experience than He is in us having a relationship with Him.  Prayer is about talking and listening to the creator of the universe.  We should be finding answers to the two big questions:

Who is God?
Who did He create me to be?

If prayer isn't revealing those two things then that means we are asking the questions, or worse, not asking any questions at all and simply giving God a wish-list of stuff He needs to do for us.

Kendra and I went back and forth refining the ideas and figuring out how to make it happen.  The first decision was agreeing where to hang it.  We decided on the wall in the great room between the front door and the laundry room.  It's been vacant since we ran out of money during the home purchase process.  We pass by this wall many times each day and its prominent location makes it ideal for keeping the family prayer list visible and in the front of our minds.

We taped it off to see how it would look.

Kendra went to many stores, websites, and friends to identify the best material and process for creating such a unique thing.  She used MDF board as the chalkboard and baseboard as the frame.  Our laundry room because a wood working shop for a few days.

She glued the molding onto the MDF board and clamped it down on each corner with wood glue.  I don't know much about the exact supplies she used, I just wanted to capture the progress as it was being built.

She added the molding on the outside edge and wood filler to fill in the cracks from the joints.

The prayer board started to take shape and Kendra was happy for the way it was coming together.

The garage became the paint shop where Kendra sprayed a few coats.

Here's the way it looked before the chalk paint was used to give it the chalkboard surface.  The time required for the paint to cure was a few days because of the requirement of multiple coats.  She taped off the frame and sprayed the chalk paint on the MDF.  

The only effort I put in for the prayer board was hanging it.  I hung it like a piece of art or a mirror with two hooks on the wall and a wire across the back of the frame.  I added a clear small square bumper on each bottom corner so it would be level against the wall.

We hung it.  It stayed.  Yea we're done!  Here is how it turned out.

I convinced Kendra to let me take a picture with her next to her creation.  The total cost was somewhere around $100 plus several hours of her time.  We are both really happy with how well it turned out.  As soon as it was up we gave each other a big high-five and a hug.  

Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. Ecclesiastes 11:4

I view the prayer board as a success story of how we plant and reap.  We don't just sit around and watch the wind and look at the clouds.  We get 'r done and this accomplishment is proof!

See you soon.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Prayer Board Coming Alive

Greetings friends and family,

Summer is fading fast, which means soaking up the last hours of pool fun and tuning up the mountain bike for time on the trails.  I'm still stuck riding Kendra's bike because I sold mine last May to close out my commitment to the church building fund.  I sold my bike once last year to kick-start our giving towards the new building.  A few months later when we recovered financially I bought a used bike off Craigslist.  It was an excellent bike, but then I decided to sell my new bike so we could close out our commitment early.  I must be the only goofball in history who sold his bike twice for the same building fund campaign.

Anyway, I've been bike-less since May and relegated to ride Kendra's smaller bike.  Even though I adjusted it as much as possible I still hit my knees on the handlebars.  No matter how uncomfortable it is to ride her bike it's still better than sitting at home watching TV.  I rode a solid hour straight with a big smile the whole time.

I don't want just any bike, I want THE bike that will fit my riding style and last me for the next 5-6 years.  Do I need it?  not at all.  Do I want it?  Yes, i'm salivating daily over the idea of tackling trails this winter.  patience is a difficult skill to master.  

Easton and Layla are finally growing tired of swimming.  I wondered when the day would come where they are not jumping for joy when we offer to let them swim.  Today they said, "do we have to?" and that's the turning point.  All it takes is offering to swim with them and their level of excitement shines brightly.  I'm not sure what Easton is doing here, but his smile is consistent since he was a baby. 

Kendra taught Layla the trick where she puts her legs together and straightens them out.  She does a barrel roll kind of motion and spins around quickly, repeatedly like a ballerina until she gets dizzy.

The temperatures are still close to 100 for the day time highs, but we get cold once we go inside.  Layla's desire for cuddling and conversation is as strong as ever.  I'll keep making space in my busy life for her as long as she is willing to spend time with me.  

The four Webbs haven't done much together lately.  Our need to accomplish so much leads to one parent with the twins while the other parents works on something.  We decided to go to Lowe's as a family for backyard plants.  Kendra had the idea of getting them a plant for their room.  It's a good way to start them on the journey of caring for life.  No dogs, thank God.  but they have to start somewhere.  the most immediate problem is over watering because they both ask several times a day if they can water the plant.

During meals we take turns praying.  The twins pray something like this, "... and help us have a good day."  there is nothing wrong with that, but the pattern shows they believe God is here to make our day "good".  That mentality is focused on their environment or "having a better human experience", which is not what God is interested in giving us.  The bottom line is they really don't know what to pray for or how to pray because we don't role model that enough in front of them.

I had a vision several weeks ago.  I was thinking about what Easton and Layla are getting from Kendra and I about prayer.  My vision was of something that apparently doesn't exist.  I want a prayer board.  This is a visible area where each person in our family can write what and who they are praying for.  I asked Kendra to design and build one for us.  She agreed and we've been taking baby steps every few days towards the final product.  First, we sectioned off our wall with tape to determine how large it should be.  This empty wall is in our great room on the way to the garage.  It's highly visible and completely empty since the day we moved in.

Kendra researched the internet and enlisted the help of our friend who does this kind of stuff as a hobby.  The frame and main board are glued together.

this is what the edge looks like where the frame and the board meet. It's sitting flat in our laundry room waiting for the next step of adding a border all the way around to make the edge fancy.

The idea is for the board to be painted with chalkboard paint and split into four quadrants.   That way each of the 4 Webbs will have our own section to write details of what and who we are praying for.  it's just one way I thought of to give the twins a meaningful target and express our values as a family.

See you soon!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Little Miss Muffet

Greetings friends and family,

While school is going on there aren't nearly enough interactions between the twins and I.  Their school and homework end at the same time my work does:  right before dinner.  They have roughly two hours each night to eat dinner and do the bed time routine.  That doesn't leave many minutes to connect with me, but as with all things we make time for what is important.

Kendra is spending hours each week helping ladies from church.  One evening I had the entire block of evening time to connect.  We went to Arby's for roast beef and then to Bahama Bucks for shaved ice.  I have coupons for both places and proudly cashed in for a half-off daddy date.  I think the treat tasted better because I used a coupon?  Anyway, you can see by Easton's sticker-covered shirt that he was the star pupil in his class.  He is helpful and smart.  Especially when compared to his classmates.

The cloudy weather isn't cooperating with our daily swim plans.  That also means the Titanic remote control is stuck at the port.  As I stood in the backyard monitoring the pool pumps I heard Hootie the owl making his owl noise.  Easton hopped on my back in his pajamas and we headed out through the greenbelt guided by his occasional hoot.  We ended up under the tree where he was, but couldn't see him.  Then he launched out of the middle of the tree and flew directly over our heads towards the neighborhood.  Easton thought that was the coolest experience of his whole week.  And Layla was mad because her bad choice led to a bad consequence of not joining us for the Hootie hunt.  see how that works?

Sunday morning was a rare opportunity to hang with the twins.  I normally go to both services at church, but recently have been re-prioritizing.  Instead of going to first service I took the twins out for Ihop breakfast.  Layla asked to sit with me so I gave Easton the camera to take our picture.  It's about time they start taking the pictures instead of just being in them like they have for the past 6 years.  

My Sunday included breakfast from 8-9, then church from 9am to 9pm.  12 hours for church?  yes.  and that's why i don't feel bad for even one second to skip first service.  I spent my time greeting people, attending service, holding a leadership work session for our ministry, teaching class to 40 people, and finished the night up with a one-on-one meeting with my friend who was delivered from the spirit of rejection.

Saturday started at 8:00 am to open the church for the carpet cleaner and included hours of reading, planning, writing, and ministry time to help our friend make the decision to stay married to her husband.  Not bad for a weekend...  Although I don't know how many more of those weekends I can handle where my "days off" from my normal job are so busy.  Everything works in cycles, thank goodness.

Kendra and I were taking a shower...  Wait, am I allowed to write that?  Oh yeah.  that's right, I almost forgot this is my blog and not an forum to judge my political correctness.  Anyway, as we were showering together I stepped out first and was drying off.  Kendra screamed like someone with a knife was in there with her.  She stepped out of the shower with shampoo suds everywhere and continued to scream.  She said "how did that get in there?" pointing down to the floor.  I opened the door to find this quarter-sized spider sitting there.  

I was laughing and found the time to take a picture before squishing it with a flip-flop.  We had a brief eulogy and funeral before plunging it to its watery grave with a flush.  Kendra didn't think my laughing or the picture or sarcastic eulogy were funny, but she loves me anyway.  :)  and now you know how she earned her new nickname "Little Miss Muffet".

See you soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Titanic Sets Sail

Ahoy friends and family,

The day finally arrived for Easton's relentless dream to own a Titanic.  A few days ago Kendra gave the twins a directive to draw their own picture and color it.  Layla drew something creative and flowery.  Easton drew the sinking of the Titanic.

I don't know what's up with his passion for disasters, but it is amazing to hear his thought process and how his mind works.  It might be a warning sign for a kid going into darkness of his soul if this were taken out of context.  He regularly talks about tornadoes and volcanoes and space shuttles exploding and the sinking of the Titanic knowing they are real, disastrous events.  He isn't focused on the death and destruction.  He is focused on the power displayed and the tragedy.  When he talks about the Titanic he is excited and animated describing details of how big it is and how it works.  When he talks about the people who died he doesn't fully "get it", but he is somber and sad for the loss of life.

Part of my job as his dad is to encourage him to pursue whatever he is passionate about.  He's been asking me for months now to have a Titanic toy that floats.  I've been shopping for one that won't break and sink on the first day of use, but doesn't cost a fortune.  I found one and told he I ordered it.  The count down was on and he marked his calendar accordingly.  The big day came and as I arrived home from work he said, "do you think it's here yet?"  I said, "let's check!"  We opened the front door and the party started.

i let him open the box with his pocket knife, so that was a big deal. When the box came out Easton hit a new level of giddiness like i've never seen before.  his smile says it all.  He was kind enough to let Layla join in the fun.  This is the part I like most about this great unveiling.  Layla was happy for Easton even though the toy wasn't for her.  Easton was willing to let Layla be a part of the action and never had a single selfish comment or posture.  I am more proud of that than anything from the day.

We unpacked all the stuff with great care. When it came time to remove the ship from the box he held his new prize as if it were made of delicate lace.

He begged to have it sit in his room overnight while the battery charged.  of course!  why not?  right?

 The next evening we prepared the ship for her maiden voyage.  Layla became the first mate saying, "Aye aye captain!" several times.

The Titanic set sail in the pool with great success. Everything works perfectly and it didn't sink.  He learned how to steer it and what the rudder does.  it's alive!

I took a short video of the trial run around the pool. i foresee daily ship launching for the next few weeks. the next stop is swimming with the Titanic!

See you soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Goal of Parenting

Greetings friends and family,

A great thing about school uniforms is that once in a while the twins dress like... well... twins.  Other than the blue on Easton's shoes and the pink on Layla's shoes (imagine that) they were Twinkies.  What I noticed most when putting them back to back was the ever-present height difference.  When the twins were born, Easton was one inch taller than Layla.  He remains one inch taller six years later.  The other thing I notice is how different they look.  He looks like me and she looks like Kendra.  surprise, surprise.

Last week I took the twins out for dinner.  As we were leaving an elderly lady said, "are they twins?"  I replied with a happy "yes!".  She explained how her daughter has twins and she can usually spot them.  She said, "they are lovely children.  I'm sure you're proud of them."  I nodded and left.  From the day they were born I've been approached by random strangers, but as they crossed the four year old mark it's been declining more and more.

The aftermath of the great flood was a full green belt behind our house.  I saw video of other greenbelts where guys were riding wave runners!  Our neighbors were swimming in the gross, dirty water, but Kendra was adamant about not allowing the twins to dive in.  I can understand why.  Even so, we were amazed just standing at the edge of the temporary lake because the water has never been that high before and probably will never be that high again.

Easton's tooth is getting loose, but still not ready for blast off. His remote control Titanic is coming in the mail and he's watching the calendar like a hawk.

Layla writes letters to us almost every day.  Sometimes the content will be apologizing for some bad choice and sometimes the content will be love and joy coming straight from her heart.  She gave me this hand-written gem along with a big hug and kiss.  Makes me so satisfied and fulfilled to experience that kind of unconditional love.

I finally found a parenting "teaching" that explains how Kendra and I approach parenting.

It's titled, "Connecting - Freedom in Parenting" (part 8 of the connection series).  This half-hour explanation of how to parent is right on target for our philosophy and in practice.

One of the main points (as paraphrased by me) is:


The goal of parenting is not to teach children to obey, comply with rules, or submit to authority, or peace and quiet or "I'm in control and you do what I say".  The goal is to steward their freedom.  The priority in parenting is connection, not control.  In other words, my priority is not to feel in control.

Most parents would say, if i de-prioritize me being in control, then what is left to motivate the child to make good choices?  If they are not motivated by fear of punishment, what will motivate them?  am i supposed to just abandon my stewardship as a parent with guidance and boundaries?  Yes!  but most people can't even fathom an approach that isn't about control.

if the goal is to teach them to obey or comply with rules by punishing them into that.  the lesson they learn is that in every relationship there is someone who is powerful and someone who is powerless.  they are the ones who are powerless.  they grow up their whole lives and never learn to manage themselves because you, as a parent, manages them.  then when they go off to college into adulthood.  for the first time they no longer have a parent's presence or fear of punishment attached to that.  an entire life history of not stewarding freedom until now.  how does that normally go?

teach kids to steward freedom so when they emerge into adulthood to have had some practice making powerful choices and living with the consequences of their choices and cleaning up the messes they make without me protecting them from that.  allowed to fail with a safety net.  i don't want them to try that for the first time when they are out of my house.


The simplest example I can think of is this:  two sets of parents in our house have children who are complaining about eating their salad for dinner.  The visiting parent says, "If you don't eat your salad you won't get cake."  The home parent (Kendra) says, "When you eat your salad you'll get cake."

Many people will read that last paragraph and see no difference.  However, it is as different as night and day.  The visiting parent focused on the negative and implies powerlessness for the child.  The home parent focused on the positive and empowers the child to make powerful choices.

Much of the previous generation's parenting philosophy is "command and control".  Even so ,it doesn't honor them to continue incorrect parenting methods.  These are the same people who allowed small children to ride cross-country without seat belts.  This is an example of a "revelation".  Nobody will argue that it's unfathomable to allow a child to sleep unsecured in the back window of a car for eight hours of highway travel.  That shift didn't happen over night, but I'm glad society changed for the better to protect children and parents alike.  It doesn't honor our parents to drive without putting seat belts on our kids.  In the same way, it doesn't honor our parents to command and control our kids through fear of punishment.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

The great thing about Easton and Layla is that no one else is responsible to God for their upbringing besides Kendra and I.  I don't claim to have all the answers or this whole parenting thing figured out, but I know what God is like and I'm doing my best to be an Earthly father for the twins in the same was as God is my heavenly father.

See you soon!