Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Webb House Wedding

Greetings friends and family,

Have you ever known someone who has battled cancer?  I have.  There is an entire blog post that will never be published because somehow, in the minds of others, honor is tied to secrecy of problems.  The need to protect ones projection of a perfect life and family is greater than my need to be open and honest.  I'm sorry.

Anyway, let me start by saying happy 80th birthday to Kendra's Grandpa!  He's been my grandpa for 12 years and I appreciate and honor him for the legacy grafted into my family when Kendra and I were married.

Easton and Layla are night and day different in many ways and I love it.  Each morning, if I wake up early enough, I wonder into Easton's room to find him reading a chapter book about the sinking of the Titanic.  He's happy and cuddly and completely awake.  This is my favorite one on one time with him.  Both of our hair is a cock-a-too mess, our breath stinks, and we're shirtless.  The similarities are undeniable.  He gives me big hugs and says, "I love you daddy!"  That's my boy.

At bed time Easton is a zombie who has no interest in interacting with anyone.  Just sing him a song, he pops his thumb in his mouth, and then off to sleep he goes within a few seconds. literally.

On the other hand I have Layla.  At night time she is wound up tighter than a garage door spring.  jumping on her bed, kicking her legs around, and wrestling with me.  She's like a ferret on double espresso.  We sing our songs together and she talks until I pry myself away from her hugging arms.  Even then she grabs my arm and hangs on for dear life begging me to stay and talk (or play).  She played peek-a-book with her fleece blankie, which made it difficult to capture a picture of her laughter.  This is my favorite time of day with Layla.

But when the sun comes up, I know exactly where I'll find Layla... still sleeping.  Her sheets are a wreck, her mouth is wide open and she is motionless except for the fluttering of her eyelashes as she dreams away.  I know this because I stand silently watching her sleep peacefully.  Sometimes I pray over her.  Other times my eyes well up with tears as I realize how blessed I am to have her as my daughter.

As she wakes up, she is squinty-eyed and speaking gibberish while she transitions from completely asleep to awake in a fog and then, after a few minutes, into a mellow sweetheart.  This is the most humorous moment of my day with Layla.  Her actions say something like, "I don't want to be awake... come here and give me a hug".

OK, so now here's the wedding story.  We were happy to host the young couple's wedding ceremony and reception in the greenbelt behind our house.  On Saturday our house turned into a zoo.  One of my many tasks was to install solar path lights so that guests wouldn't fall in the pool or trip over the rocks.  It turned out well!  Now we'll see how long they last before the sun bakes the solar panel right off the top.

Our friend baked the delicious wedding cake.  I have a plate full of the "extra" sunflower medallions because they were so amazing I begged the cake baker for them.  I don't mind being the benefactor of a few fringe benefits as the host!

Here's a picture of the bride and the flower girls just prior to showtime.

Easton gets along really well with Kayla.  When she hangs out he is constantly all up in their business wanting to play with Layla and her.  He makes friends so easily and that is one character trait I'm happy to see blossoming early.  It will serve him well all his life.

The ceremony went well considering the normal bumps along the way with any wedding.  Easton and Layla did a fantastic job of ring bearer and flower girl.  They walked slow, on time, and did their thing with the petals and the pillow.  The ring was in the best man's pocket so Easton was just symbolic, but he knew his role and carried it out very well.

After the ceremony the guests sat at tables and waited as the wedding party did pictures.  I captured the moment with the 4 Webbs because as the hosts we weren't required to do too much other than be little helpers now and then.  This is representative of one of the main reason's we bought this house.  We knew it would be used to bless others and so we do every chance we get.  The fee for the venue was zero and it ended up costing us quite a bit when considering the plants and decorations and preparation, but that's what we are designed to do: bless others.

Layla twirled around waiting patiently for the dancing to start.  She kept asking, "when are we going to dance?"

By "we" she meant everyone, but I took the opportunity to pick her up and dance with her right there in front of everyone.  This is the still shot, which is my favorite pic of the entire weekend.

and the twirling selfie.  as we spun in circles I captured the blur behind us.  I'd say this is the most representative picture of life with Layla.  No matter what is going on around us, there is a clear bond in relationship.  She knows it doesn't matter what else is happening, just stay focused.

I let the camera man do his job the entire night, but as he positioned everyone for this picture I said, "I let you do your thing all night, but just give me this one shot for my own purposes".  I'm happy with the way the wedding turned out and content with how well the twins represented the Webb family.

It's getting really close to Halloween!  and Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Good grief, Charlie Brown. I can't believe how fast the year has gone by.

See you soon!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Wedding at the Webbs

Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs hosted our first wedding ceremony and reception.  The past week was consumed with house cleaning, shopping, decorating, creating, and staying out of the way.  But first i get to catch up on the the stories leading up to the big event.

Easton slept in full pajamas since he was a baby, but now he switched to shirtless.  He had a sleep over at one of the two households we trust.  His friend doesn't sleep with a shirt, or so Easton says.  Ever since then Easton doesn't sleep in a shirt either.  Peer pressure is way too effective on him.  On the positive side he is very observant and nothing gets by him if he is interested.  Notice the clean room?  Every night...  Atta boy.

one of the few disappointments of the past few weeks is that I didn't get any pictures of Ouma with the twins.  Just having her in our house is the greatest blessing, but I wish I would have captured more of the many fun moments with her here.  Kendra and Bree went shopping with her and found the costume aisle. Kendra's owl mask is a hoot!  Bree's love of cats is obvious.  Not sure why Ouma has no mask?

I wonder where Easton gets his interest in owls? Notice the owl shirt...

He proudly wore the owl shirt for his "no uniform" school day on Friday.  Layla was sick for the last week.  There were 5 of her classmates out sick on one the days.  She caught whatever it was and had the normal fever and slight cough.  Some parents described their child's symptoms of diarrhea and projectile vomiting.  Made me grateful for Layla's only symptoms of an elevated temperature.

I picked them up from school on Friday and went by Jamba Juice for a healthy snack and immunity boost.  We were laughing about the noise the straw makes against the lid.  I didn't realize how loud we were until i looked around and noticed the entire store including workers were watching us. I would be concerned if people were annoyed or offended, but everybody was smiling and some laughing with us.  or at us.  either way, we brought some sunshine into the store.

The wedding hosted in our back yard was for a young couple in our church.  Kendra and I watched them grow up over the past 5 years.  They spend time at our house hanging out.  Once they decided to get married they asked to have the ceremony and reception in our greenbelt.  We gladly agreed and it was our pleasure to bless them with a venue and all the help we provided.

One of the other requests the couple had was for Easton and Layla to be one of the two flower girls and the ring bearer.  or as Easton kept calling it, the "bear ringer".  I still laugh about that... Layla is pretending to throw flower pedals out on the pathway.  Both of them were good listeners and well behaved.

As the ceremony rehearsal ended Easton and Layla and Kayla walked back down the aisle together.  I proudly watched Easton show his skills as a gentleman!

The next day was wedding day.  My job was to prepare the back yard and stay out of everyone's way.  The side-job was to keep the three kids out of way too.  I took them out for lunch and shopping for Easton's shoes.  This is what happens when a boy gets stuck in the jewelry section with two girls.  He said, "Is this like uncle Casey?" because Casey had his nose pierced some time ago and Easton remembered.

Lunch was at a mexican restaurant.  What kid doesn't like chips and beans?  These three sure do.

While waiting for our meal we walked around the water features outside.  This night when I tucked Easton into bed he said, "Kayla was really into me today."  Oh my...  it's too early for him to start noticing that.

Layla fought against every desire to touch the water.  I told them they could look but not touch.  the little sprinkles from the waterfall got her feet slightly wet.  I love to see the enjoyment a child gets from the little things like water drops on toes.

She was eager to pose when I asked to get a picture of her with the waterfall as the background.  Yes, i still let Layla wear princess dresses out in public.  There are lots of aspects of parenting with an expiration date.  I have no idea when her desire for this will expire.  Until then, princess it is!

Easton wanted me to be in the picture with him.  He was most interested to know what causes the foam to form in the water and why water makes sound when it flows over the falls.  That's my inquisitive boy!

He told Kendra and I, "I ask a lot of questions now, but I'll stop when I turn 10, ok?"  "No!"  We responded.  "Don't ever stop asking questions.  that is how you learn."  we both told him in unison.  He is aware of his inquisitive nature and I hope he never stops.  His mind is blessed with such greatness that finding answers will be key to his success.

We arrived back at the house to find organized chaos.  Our bathroom turned into girly central with makeup flying around like flour being tossed by the Swedish Chef.  random Muppets reference.  Anyway, Layla jumped right in with the hair and clothes preparation.

Easton had his first lesson in ironing.  Any guess as to what his favorite part was?  the button that creates steam.  He kept pushing it asking questions about how the water flows, why it creates steam and where did the wrinkles go.  I can tell we will need many more sessions of ironing before he gets beyond the wonder of how the iron works.

During the ceremony we stood in the back holding each other.  It was like looking at a finished piece of artwork and admiring what was created.  I'll have the wedding pics next post.

See you soon!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Soccer Season Kickoff

Greetings friends and family,

The 4 Webbs are focusing our recreational time on soccer for the twins and mountain biking for Daddy.  Every Saturday we gear up and send the twins out onto the soccer field with 10 other kids to kick a ball around.  They are both in the boys league where Layla is the only girl on any team in their league.  Layla requested to be on the boys league because everybody runs, nobody cries, and nobody walks off the field unannounced whenever they get tired.

I haul their two-person camping chair, my chair, soccer gear bag, and camera backpack from the car.  They carried their big water jugs (gotta stay hydrated out here in the AZ sun).

The problem of bunch-ball is still in full effect.  This means all six soccer players within kicking distance of each other.  You might notice there is only one pony tail in the group: Layla.  She isn't what I consider to be a tom-boy, but she is completely comfortable and confident when there are 11 boys and 1 girl on the soccer field.  This is a notable accomplishment because I meet kids every day that can't even pull their eyes up off the ground long enough to greet you with a "hi" because of shyness and/or lack of social skills.  Some people believe social skills = manners.  I've met some well mannered kids that were silent, awkward, or boring.  I don't consider that to be exhibiting good social skills.  I believe social skills = ability to interact with those around you no matter what the circumstance or environment.

Easton doesn't have a mean bone in his body.  That often leads to a lack of aggressiveness, but he's working on it during practice.  He enjoys the rough and running nature of soccer, but not really into the take-the-ball-away or pushing his way through defenders.  at this point in the soccer league it is still about just having fun so we'll keep him in there as long as he wants.

This is by far my favorite picture of the week.  These are genuine championship smiles and postures. After their teammate scored one of his four goals this game (the only four our team scored, by the way) Easton and Layla cheered and jumped.  That's good team spirit!

Layla is always aware when I'm on the sidelines.  I watch intently the whole game and I know they see whether I'm paying attention to them or not.  Layla took the time to leap and pose for me as she headed back down field after a goal.  She sure is comfortable in front of a camera... imagine that.

Easton was in and Layla was out one quarter.  I gave Layla my camera and taught her a little more about how to take pictures.  She catches on quick!

Ouma and Mommy were still gone so we went out for lunch to Firehouse Subs.  I could have pulled something together for lunch at home, but I was too lazy.  The free firefighter hats sparked lots of questions such as: why the brim faces backwards, why they are red, and why there is a dog on the picture.

The twins and I spent a few hours cleaning up the house after the disaster from the BBQ.  I could not believe how much seven kids could destroy a house.  I gave out chores and they jumped right in to help.  Layla was very proud of herself for cleaning the windows.  half a bottle of spray and half a roll of paper towels later...

Easton was given the task of dusting.  I remember having this as one of my chores and I disliked it.  not sure why.  It's not a difficult job or dirty or gross.  just something about it that led me to do it begrudgingly.  This was a momentous day because I happily gave the mantle of dusting responsibility to Easton.  He's now the official duster of the Webb house.  

The 48 hours of Daddy time without Ouma and Kendra was a great success in these ways:

the house didn't burn down
the house was more cleaned after they returned home than before they left
the twins were content with the quality and quantity of Daddy time
nobody was sick, injured, or puking
several memorable moments and lots of laughs shared

See you soon!

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Greeting friends and family,

Kendra and Ouma are gone for 48 hours with 60 women to a retreat up in the mountains.  I invited a few other dads with kids over to my house for a BBQ dinner.  Easton and Layla knew the kids, but hadn't hung out with them outside of church.  The friends came over and that's the last we saw of the twins.  They all headed straight to the hot tub and played for over an hour together.  It was as if they were best friends from birth.

After we called them in for dinner they all dried off in the patio.  Easton shouted, "group hug!" and they all came together for a hug.

After dinner they sat on the couch to wind down for bed time.  This was a rowdy crew for sure.  All of them were hyped up and laughing and talking loud.  None of us dads did anything to reduce their excitement because they were just kids having fun together.  Our house is not a museum.  We let them roam freely and be as kid-like as they want.  when I think about fun memories of my childhood, not a single one of them is from a time when I sat still and quite (adult-like) with my group of friends.
My proudest moment of the night was watching them play completely colorblind.  They don't see these wonderful friends as "black".  They don't see them as anything other than just friends.  At school they learn along side asians, east indians, blacks, mexicans, and every other nationality you can think of.  I thought back to my own childhood as I proudly observed the colorblindness in action.  My town growing up was not culturally diverse and therefore neither were my church or school or social interactions.  There was no hateful speech about non-whites growing up, but there were also no discussions at all because there were no touch points with any other race or color.  I was able to form my own conclusions and appreciation for people of color once I moved away.  I have no prejudice and I'm extremely happy the twins don't either.  This is what colorblind looks like.

At Kendra's retreat she is responsible for 10 of the ladies in her cabin as the leader and she's speaking to the women at one of the sessions.  The topic she's going to address is marriage.  More specifically how she made it from almost divorcing me to being best friends, lovers, and ministry partners. What a story she has to share...  I'm excited for the breakthroughs for those ladies who are struggling in the same place Kendra was.

Anyway, Kendra and Ouma's trip out of town means Daddy is at the helm.  Easton had a tooth pulled and a square metal spacer inserted where the tooth was so his adult tooth will have room to grown in whenever that happens.  He missed Thursday, but went to school with Layla on Friday.  He's a real trooper when it comes to pain tolerance.  Kendra has some pics and vids of his trip to the dentist, but i haven't seen them yet.

Kendra cut her hair.  She's never had it short in the 14 years I've known her.  I had no idea she was going to cut it until she called me on facetime at work.  Apparently this look and saying "hmmmm..." was NOT the right response.

I really like it.  seriously.  The color is what I prefer and she looks great with shorter hair.  I'll have a better response next time she gets it cut, but for now I'm still digging out of the hole I created when she first showed me.

pray for me.  :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wedding Extravaganza

Greetings friends and family,

Weddings normally last a couple of hours.  We spent the better part of three DAYS celebrating Kendra's cousin's wedding.  Easily the most lavish, expensive wedding I've ever been a part of.  The views were spectacular.  The rehearsal day was a cowboy theme so you know I was all in for that. After the practice run of the ceremony we joined a boat load of people for an outdoor dinner.  The pictures don't do the scenery justice at all, but it's the best we could do without a wide angle lens.

Then we drove to Cave Creek for the weekly rodeo event.  The groom rode a real live bull for the first time on the night before his wedding.  Not a sheep or a cow or a camel...  A real kicking and bucking bull.  We were all holding our breath scared for what could happen but he rode it, bailed off, and walked away unhurt.  Talk about entertainment at all costs!  Plus I got to wear my fancy cowboy hat and spend an evening with my wife and without my kids.  what a winning night.

The next day was wedding day.  Day 3 of the wedding celebration and day 2 without the twins.  Kendra participated in the wedding preparation by lending her creative skills.  She made these two signs from scratch with a frame and a bunch of supplies.  The bride was happy so that is the measure of success.

The ceremony venue reception were nothing short of amazing.  The weather cooperated perfectly. It is nearly impossible for the camera to capture the brilliance of the sunset, but this gives a slight idea of what we were surrounded by.

Spending time with Mom and Dad and the rest of Kendra's family was a special treat.  Especially the rare occasion to do this without the twins around.  I definitely missed them, but the adult conversation and relaxation were enjoyed to the fullest.

Easton's first tooth is out!  A few weeks ago when his tooth was barely loose I hyped up the idea of pulling his tooth with a model rocket.  He was all excited about it.  The thing that got him excited was when I agreed to buy him his remote control Titanic if he would let me do this.  bribery is a powerful tool for persuasion.  We went to the store and bought some rocket engines.  We bought 50 yards of dental floss.  We went to the field and set every up just exactly the way I planned.  All the way down to the part where I looped the floss around his tooth and told him to press the button.

That's when things went South.  Bottom line is that he didn't trust me when I told him there is no pain involved.  He couldn't comprehend how pulling a tooth wouldn't hurt.  I told him it's the same as clipping a fingernail, but that didn't calm him.  Then I said, "you can either be scared and brave or just scared".

He lost his nerve and didn't do it.  The tough part was that we ran out of time.  I was patient, but ran out of time because I had to be at church to facilitate the class Kendra and teach.  I clipped off the floss now tightly wound around his tooth and just left it hanging out of his mouth.  There was no going back.  Any attempt to remove the floss would have pulled the dangling tooth right out!  The next morning before school I convinced him to let me just pull it out and he finally allowed me to do it.   He finally lost his tooth!

I think "lost" is the wrong word.  I don't even know why we use that expression because it's not lost.  He has it in his hand.  Either way it is no longer dangling and the hole in his gums is already healing nicely. 

See you soon!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hanging with the Fancy Crew

Greetings friends and family,

Easton's tooth is still hanging in there too tightly to take it out with a rocket. i'm hopeful Sunday will be the day to do it!

The twins slept in the same room on Easton's trundle bed so that GG and Ouma and Oupa could have their own room.  I heard Layla's voice at six o' crack in the morning.  My first thought was to put in ear plugs and go back to sleep, but I felt well rested enough to get up and take care of them.  I quietly crept out the garage door and drove the three of us to Dunkin Doughnuts for breakfast.

Kendra and the rest of the family at home slept in a little longer.  I had some quality and quantity of time with the twins.  This was a win-win situation!  After breakfast there were still sleepy heads at home.  I rode bikes to the neighborhood park where we dug around in the playground.  Layla enjoys digging as much as Easton and she isn't afraid to get messy.  Here's a big ball of dirty sand.  Watch what happens when I squish it with my hands!

One of the many things Easton was looking forward to is golf lessons with Oupa.  He is following in Oupa's footsteps as closely as possible.  This is a much more meaningful picture than most would realize.  Easton is literally following in Oupa's footsteps.  It makes me happy to see Oupa is passing on a love of golf along with the many other great character traits and passions.

We hit a hundred balls and Easton hung right there with the boys.  His distance wasn't great, but he is getting the fundamentals down well.  How about this pic of a great side-by-side swing with matching gaze out to the horizon.

The last three days were one continuous party leading up to the most epic wedding we've ever been invited to.  We started out adventures with a drive up North to Cave Creek.  We met the whole family on both sides.  The twins went with us, but had no idea how awesome the experience was.  Here's the hot tub they played in with the most amazing view.

The two of them play together very well even at a stranger's house.  They had a blast playing around together while the adults mingled.  Being the only elementary school aged kids worked out just fine.  We received a few compliments about how well behaved they are.

I took more pictures these past few days than Kendra would like, but I wanted to capture these rare moments.  watching the sun set over the valley was romantic and relaxing at the same time.

this is a panorama of the view from their balcony, but it doesn't do it justice.

Here is a little perspective on the size and grandeur of the mansion / palace / estate or whatever.  Easton and Layla kicked back to relax on those monster over-sized chairs.

Off to one side of the yard I saw a rock surrounded by flowers.  I thought it would make a great surrounding for layla and I was right.   Wow, what a big girl.

I think we took a similar picture from this exact location two years ago.  I was wearing the exact same shirt.  :)  Easton and Layla are growing so fast there is no chance for them to wear the same clothes they had on last time.

Kendra's cousins and aunts took a silly picture on this same location and I think it turned out great.  they are all laugh-out-loud fun to be around.

Kendra and Ouma hit their social butterfly limit, as she regularly does.  that when they sat down by the fire pit and just hung out for a while away from the crowds.

And guess who else joined them for their break from the party?  Layla.  I know, you're completely shocked, right?  She is fitting in with the grown ups more and more every day.

We had two more days of wedding related fun so i'll get those adventures posted ASAP.  Sunday (tomorrow) will be a full day of teaching and speaking at church, but it's our last Sunday of class for a while.

See you soon!